By Gordon Lambie
Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced that the Outaouais, Capitale Nationale, Bas Saint Laurent, and Chaudiere Appalaches regions, which had previously been downgraded to orange alert status, will move back to red as of Thursday at 8 p.m. in light of their increasingly worrying increase in cases. This new status will remain in place for at least 10 days.
Speaking late Wednesday afternoon, Legault said that the situation is particularly troubling in Quebec City, Levis and Gatineau.
At the Eastern Townships’ weekly update on the local vaccination campaign, Dr. Alex Carignan, medical microbiologist and infectious disease consultant with the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS, warned that even if the situation appears to be more stable in the region at the moment, there is nothing to prevent the same backwards progress to take place here if people are not careful.
“Throughout Quebec we see an increase, and the Estrie is not immune,” he said.
On the subject of vaccination, local campaign director Jean Delisle shared that only 200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were given to people under the age of 55 in the Eastern Townships before its delivery was suspended, and there are currently no more available in the region. Although he and Carignan repeated the information that no one in Quebec or Canada has yet been confirmed to have the blood clotting symptoms associated with a possible risk from the vaccine, they also encouraged anyone in the 55 and under group who received a AstraZeneca dose who experiences unusual symptoms within the week after their shot to consult a doctor. In particular, Carignan said that a severe and persistent headache is a clear sign to go and get checked out.
Despite that warning, however, Carignan stood by the effectiveness of the vaccine and the temporary nature of the hold on administering it.
In other vaccine news, Delisle said that even if the region is still waiting to be able to open up new appointment slots and age categories, second dose vaccinations will begin within the next two weeks for those healthcare workers who received their first shot around the Christmas season.
The number of new cases of COVID-19 provincewide was back over 1,000 on Wedensday, with 1,025 being reported across the Province of Quebec. This brought the total number of infections to 311,091 and the number of active cases to 8,518.
There were nine new deaths recorded, for a total of 10,667.
The number of hospitalizations, decreased by two to 485 and the number of people in intensive care decrease by six, to 120.
In the Eastern Townships the total number of people who have contracted the virus surpassed the 12,000 mark as 14 new cases were added on Wednesday. The total number of active cases also increased to 134. One additional death was recorded from the Manoir Jeffrey in Val-des-Sources. The outbreak at that residence is now considered to have ended.
The number of hospitalizations in the region decreased by two, reaching six in total, but the number of people in intensive care increased by one, to four.
The number of variant cases being tracked in the province increased by 527, to 7,475, and the number of variant cases in the Eastern Townships increased to 101.
The total number of vaccine doses administered province wide reached 1,349,326, or 15.9 per cent of the total population. In the Townships 60,582 doses have been given so far, covering 11.4 per cent of the population.