COVID-19: Experts optimistic that Quebec will be able to avoid blockades this winter – Montreal | The Canadian News

Almost a year after Quebec placed its largest cities under partial lockdown in an effort to curb the rise in COVID-19 infections, experts say there is reason for optimism this fall.

On September 28, 2020, Prime Minister François Legault announced that as of October 1, a large part of the province’s population would live under the highest alert level for 28 days. The restrictions would end up lasting much longer, and Montreal restaurants wouldn’t be able to reopen their dining rooms until June.

Today, there are signs that the province may have passed the peak of the fourth wave of the pandemic, as the number of new daily cases of COVID-19 declines.

On Monday, the Department of Health reported 519 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest number of new daily cases in nearly three weeks and well below the average of 680 new daily cases reported during the previous seven days.

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The second wave of the pandemic began in late September 2020, before peaking in January. But the fourth wave started earlier in the year and may now have peaked, said Dr. Donald Sheppard, director of the McGill interdisciplinary initiative on infections and immunity.

“There are optimistic signs, when you look at the numbers, that we are at the top, that we flatten the curve, if you will, this time with vaccines, rather than public health measures,” Sheppard said in an interview Monday.

More than 85 percent of Quebecers aged 12 and over consider themselves fully vaccinated, according to the province’s institute of public health.

During the second wave, the number of new daily cases in Quebec peaked at more than 3,000 in January. Since the number of new cases began to rise again this summer, they have remained below 900 a day, according to data from the Health Department.

On Monday, the Health Department said the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations had risen by two, to 299, and 95 people were in intensive care, an increase of five from the previous day.

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Sheppard said Quebec’s hospitalization figures are in line with expectations: vaccination has resulted in fewer new cases and a lower percentage of cases leading to hospitalization. However, he added that the percentage of those hospitalizations that require intensive care is higher, because the Delta variant is more virulent.

While Sheppard said he is optimistic, he said he is also concerned that the level of immunity provided by COVID-19 vaccines may decline over time.

Studies in Israel have shown a significant decrease in immunity after six months. But because Quebec waited longer to give people their second dose of vaccine, residents may have a higher level of immunity than those in Israel who received their second dose after 21 days.

As long as third doses are delivered quickly if people face waning immunity, and unless a new “catastrophic” variant emerges, Sheppard said he believes there will be no need for shutdowns this winter.

“If we continue to deal with what we are seeing now, then we should be able to avoid lockdowns in the winter,” he said. “We will see cases, absolutely. We can even see what we are seeing now, which is an increase in hospitalizations to a number that is uncomfortable but manageable, that falls short of that level of disruption to the health care system that justifies the disruption of society. “

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COVID-19: Quebec Passes Law to Restrict Anti-Vaccine Protests

COVID-19: Quebec Passes Law to Restrict Anti-Vaccine Protests

Dr. Catherine Hankins, Co-Chair of Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, said that while the situation is different from a year ago, it might be too early to say that Quebec has passed the peak of the fourth wave. .

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“I think we have to give ourselves a little more time to see how this goes,” he said in an interview Monday. “It looks good, but we’ve just started going back to congregation settings, we haven’t addressed a lot of ventilation issues. I think it is premature to call the rhythm of the fourth wave. “

Hankins said he does not expect another lockdown, due to the provincial government’s vaccine passport and mask mandates, which he said will help prevent superprocessor events. People who work from home in winter will also help, he added.

“I think everyone wants to avoid a lockdown,” Hankins said. “We know what the impact has been on the mental health and well-being of our children, adolescents and adults, in the entire population; we don’t want to go back there. “

However, their fear is that the virus will continue to spread in other parts of the world that have lower vaccination rates, leading to the emergence of new variants.

“We haven’t gotten out of this yet,” he said. “We haven’t reached the end of the game yet.”

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