By Gordon Lambie
Quebec’s provincial institute of public health published its analysis of the new Omicron variant on Monday, stating that there is no indication that the new virus strain is experiencing community transmission in the province at this time. Despite the detection of a first case in a returning traveller last week, the INSPQ data shows no sign of any additional spread so far.
Omicron is considered to be a variant of concern because of the number of mutations it has compared to the original strain of the virus that was detected, some of which have been associated with an increased likelihood of infection and increased resistance to immune response. The INSPQ report notes, however, that there is not yet enough reliable data on the new variant to confirm either of these possibilities.
There were 502 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the Eastern Townships over the weekend, bringing the total number of cases in the region since the start of the pandemic to 21,128, with 1,399 active cases. Close to half of those new cases were in Sherbrooke, where the rate of transmission remained high compared to the provincial average, but well below that of the Des Sources region.
There were 17 people hospitalised in the region on Monday, eight of whom were in intensive care.
According to breakdown of new cases by age group for the week of Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, there were 1,122 new cases reported overall, at an average of about 160 new cases per day. Of that total, 377 were in children aged 5-11, which is more than twice the number in any other single category.
Reflecting the ongoing concentration of cases in the younger population, the closure of the Desranleau School in Sherbrooke that was announced last week was extended on Monday, with the local school service centre indicating that more time is needed to help control the spread of the virus within the school community. A return to class is now expected at the school for Dec 13.
There were 76 schools in the Eastern Townships on the province’s list of schools with at least one case of Covid within the last 14 days, as of last Friday.
The Province of Québec reported 1,189 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of people infected to 455,825, with 10,272 active cases.
There were two new deaths recorded, for a total of 11,589 since the start of the pandemic. The number of hospitalizations increased to 226, an increase of seven compared to the previous day. The number of people in intensive care also increased, reaching 62.
Just over 25 per cent of children 5-11 in the Townships had received a first dose of vaccine as of Monday, just slightly behind the provincial rate of 28 per cent.