By Gordon Lambie
While stating that there are only “a limited number” of Omicron cases in Quebec at the moment, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced an immediate return to the recommendation that employers favour work from home and the requirement that people in private seniors residences wear a mask in common spaces.
“The fewer contacts we have, the less we are at risk,” Dube said, sharing that the increase in cases and hospitalizations observed recently is projected to continue until at least after the holiday period.
Dubé emphasized, again, the importance of vaccination and called on anyone available to help with the vaccination campaign to sign up for the cause through the ‘Je contribue’ website at https://jecontribuecovid19.gouv.qc.ca/Inscription.aspx. Noting that Tuesday marked the first anniversary of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Quebec, the health minister urged the public not to gather with others unless they are vaccinated and encouraged those who have chosen not to receive the shot to reconsider.
Tuesday also brought the news that rapid testing kits should soon be made available to the public. As of the week of Dec. 20, the kits should be made available to the population through local pharmacies, although the distribution of the kits to schoolchildren in the province has already proven to be slower in practice than expected. Each person will be permitted up to five free test kits per 30-day period until the end of March, which can be used to help check infection status over the holiday period. Anyone who receives a positive result on a rapid test is required to confirm that result at a local testing centre.
The province reported 1,747 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 469,356, with 14,617 active cases. There were seven new deaths, for a total of 11,618 since the start of the pandemic.
The number of hospitalizations across the province increased by 25 to 293, 75 of whom were in intensive care.
The number of active cases reported by the provincial institute of public health in the Eastern Townships was close to 100 lower on Tuesday, at 1,498, than it had been on Monday. The rate of infection in relation to the regional population remained higher than in any other region of the province, however.
The number of hospitalizations increased by one, rising to 33, eight of whom were in intensive care.