By Gordon Lambie
Speaking alongside Premier Francois Legault on Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Christian Dubé said that Quebec will require all health and social services workers in the private and public systems, even those with limited or no contact with patients, to be vaccinated by Oct. 15.
“We cannot accept that workers put vulnerable people at risk,” Dubé said, explaining that although the original plan had been to impose the requirement only on those who deal with patients for more than 15 minutes, public health ultimately determined that anyone in a facility could be considered a contact. Failure to meet the new requirement in time could result in suspension without pay.
In that same vein, proof of vaccination is also being required for those visiting patients, and volunteer caregivers, except when visiting patients in palliative care.
“The virus is here to stay, and we’ll have to learn to live with it,” Legault said, adding that the measures are part of an increased effort to protect the healthcare system at a time when it is already under stress. He acknowledged that there will continue to be “a certain number of hospitalized people,” as the pandemic continues, but argued that strict measures are important to ensure that an increase doesn’t overwhelm things further.
“There are 900,000 people who could be vaccinated who are not,” Dubé said, noting that an unvaccinated person is 30 times more likely to be hospitalized than someone who is fully vaccinated, according to the most recent data.
The province of Quebec reported 515 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, (2,489 since the last update on Friday), bringing the total number of people infected to 393,852 with 5,460 active cases. There were two new deaths due to the virus over the weekend for a total of 11,293. The number of hospitalizations increased by 24 to 171, with 68 in intensive care.
In the Eastern Townships the total number of active cases climbed to 200 following the addition of 83 over the long weekend. Of those cases, 78 were in Sherbrooke, 46 were in the Haute Yamaska, 20 were in the Val-Saint-François, 17 were in Memphremagog, 16 were in Granit, 15 were in the Pommeraie, three were in Des Sources, two were in the Haute-Yamaska, and three were not assigned to a particular area. There were no active cases of COVID-19 attributed to the Coaticook region in Tuesday’s report.
There were no new deaths, locally, and four in hospital for reasons linked to the virus, one of whom was in intensive care.
There were 13 active outbreaks across the territory as of Tuesday’s report, although the CIUSSS de l’Estrie CHUS is not providing details on the locations of those outbreaks except in the case where a public call for testing is deemed necessary.
Vaccination rates across the province have reached 87.8 per cent for a first dose among people 12 and up, and 82.1 per cent for adequate vaccination. In the Townships those rates are at 84.3 per cent for a first dose and 79 per cent for a second.