The Government of Canada announced Thursday that as of April 1, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to provide a pre-entry COVID-19 test result to enter Canada by air, land or water. Although travellers arriving in the country may still be required to take molecular test on arrival if selected for mandatory random testing, the change marks a significant reduction in the complication and cost of international travel.
It is important to note that testing requirements are not being changed for those who do not qualify as fully vaccinated. To qualify, a traveller must have received at least two doses of a vaccine accepted for travel, a mix of 2 accepted vaccines or at least 1 dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The second dose (in the case of two-dose vaccines) must have been at least 14 calendar days before entry to Canada.
The provincial government, meanwhile, announced that the Paxlovid antiviral treatment for COVID-19 will now be available to a broader range of people. Under the new guidelines, Paxlovid will be distributed in all Quebec pharmacies to certain targeted populations upon the presentation of a positive result for a screening test and a prescription from a doctor or a nurse practitioner. The eligible groups include people with moderate to severely impaired immune systems, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people who are 60 or older or those who are 18 or older with one of a set of specific pre-existing medical conditions, adolescents who weigh at least 40 kg (and have additional risk factors) and pregnant women (with additional risk factors)
The ministry of health notes that Paxlovid treatment should be started within five days of the onset of symptoms and could, if taken properly, reduce the probability of hospitalization by nearly 89 per cent in vulnerable patients.
There were 1,034 in hospital with COVID-19 across Quebec on Thursday, a decline of 39 from Wednesday. The number of people in intensive care, meanwhile, went down by six to reach 50.
The province recorded 19 new deaths on Thursday, bringing the provincial total since the start of the pandemic to 14,232.
There were 68 people in hospital with Covid across the Eastern Townships on Thursday with three in ICU. No new Covid-related deaths were recorded, keeping that total at 546.