By Gordon Lambie
Speaking at a press conference in Montreal on Monday morning, Health Minister Christian Dubé said that a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is now an inescapable fact in the province.
“We don’t need to ask whether we are in a third wave or not. We are in a third wave,” Dubé said, emphasizing the importance of continuing to control spread as long as possible while vaccination moves ahead.
The health minister added that a rise in cases was a known risk in opening up more services to the population and said that another shutdown was not impossible if things start to seem out of control.
“We question ourselves every day,” he said.
On the subject of vaccination, Quebec opted to suspend delivery of the AstraZeneca (Covishield) vaccine for people under the age of 55 until further notice on Monday following a recommendation from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). According to the advisory issued by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the decision was based on concerns from the European Medicines Agency that there may be a link between the vaccine and certain health complications in people under the age of 55, notably the formation of blood clots.
The suspension is meant to be temporary, pending the results of further investigation. The announcement included an acknowledgement that the news may have an impact on the current vaccination schedule, although it stopped short of offering specific information about what delays can be expected.
To date, 111,000 doses of the vaccine in question have been administered in Quebec with no incidence of abnormal clotting observed.
The Province of Quebec reported 891 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of people infected to 309,202 and the total number of active cases to 7,987.
There were five new deaths recorded across the province, but the total only increased by four to 10,651, due to the withdrawal of one death not attributable to COVID-19.
The number of hospitalizations decreased by three, reaching 477, but 120 people were in intensive care, an increase of six over the previous day.
The Eastern Townships reported 16 new cases, but the withdrawal of one case that was previously reported from the count meant that the total number of cases only increased by 15, to 11,983. The number of active cases in the region increased by one to 129.
The Manoir Jeffery in Val-des-Sources (formerly Asbestos) reported another death, bringing the regional total to 321.
The number of hospitalizations and people in intensive care remained unchanged at eight and three respectively.
53,459 doses of vaccine have been given in the Estrie region, accounting for 10.9 per cent of the overall population. Vaccine coverage in long term care homes (CHSLDs) is at 86.9 per cent, and in private residences (RPAs) at 84.2 per cent.
Across the province, 1,261,855 doses have been administered so far, making up 14.9 per cent of the population.