Public health adopting “unified approach” to controlling variant spread

Public health adopting “unified approach” to controlling variant spread

By Gordon Lambie

A new “unified approach” to contact tracing and infection control in the Eastern Townships will likely see more people going into preventative isolation in the coming weeks, according to Dr. Geneviève Petit, Medical Coordinator for COVID-19 response in the Estrie Region. Speaking at a briefing on the situation regarding COVID-19 variants in the region, Petit said that the response on the part of follow up teams has become more intense in order to account for the rising number of cases across the province.
“The unified approach means that we intervene from the start like (each case) is a variant,” Petit said. “We consider that the presence of variants is significant enough that we can no longer afford to respond to situations differently.”
Although the situation in the region is currently considered to be better than that of areas like Gatineau and Quebec City, the doctor said that intensive measures are needed if there is any desire to keep things that way. As a result, follow-up teams working on contact tracing will be asking more detailed questions and using different criteria do determine who is considered a medium or high-risk contact with a confirmed case. Those people who are contacted and told to isolate will now be followed more closely by public health over the 14 days after their supposed contact and will be required to complete a second test at the end of their two weeks to determine whether or not they are negative. Representatives of the public health department will also follow up during the isolate period to ensure that targeted individuals are staying home. Those who live with a person who has been told to self-isolate must also follow isolation procedures until such time as the primary individual received their first negative test.
According to Petit, more than 50 per cent of positive test results in the province now show a covid variant. As of last week, that figure was closer to 33 per cent in the Eastern Townships, but more current information was not available for comparison.
Due to the vaccine prioritization so far, the doctor said that variants are more likely to impact younger people as they move into the area. She noted that the data already point to this trend, with variant cases being most common in the region among 20–29-year-olds. Despite that expected result, however, Petit said that she does not foresee any changes to the vaccine rollout in the near future.
The province of Quebec reported 1,271 new cases, bringing the total number of people infected to 312,362 and the total number of active cases to 9,038.
There were nine new deaths, for a total of 10,676, and hospitalizations increased by two, to 487. The Number of people in intensive care decreased by one, meanwhile, to 119.
The Eastern Townships also saw a significant increase, with 32 new cases reported across six out of the area’s nine sub-sectors. This brought the regional total to 12,041, and the number of active cases to 162.
No new deaths were reported, keeping the regional total at 322, and the number of people in Intensive care remained unchanged at four, but the number of general hospitalizations increased by two, to eight.
The number of variant cases confirmed across the province increased by 625 to 8,100 on Thursday. There have been 110 variant cases confirmed to date in the Eastern Townships.

A total of 1,391,649 doses of vaccine have been administered to people in Quebec so far out of 1,652,905 doses received in total. As of Thursday’s numbers, 16.4 per cent of the province’s population had been vaccinated. In the Eastern Townships 64,529 people have received a vaccination, accounting for 12.1 per cent of the total population.

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