Quebec trusts people to do the right thing despite COVID surge, experts say

Experts suggest that Quebec may be right to appeal to the common sense of the people rather than add measures that are likely to be disregarded.

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After announcing some new restrictions on Wednesday even as COVID-19 cases surpassed record levels, the Quebec government is now counting on people to understand the seriousness of the situation and do whatever is necessary, experts believe.


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And, almost two years after the pandemic, they feel that the shift in focus may bring better results than trying to impose even more stringent measures during the holiday period.

“They explained the consequences and the risks, they told people what to do to stay safe, and now it’s up to people to do their part,” said Dr. Nathalie Grandvaux of the CHUM Research Center on Wednesday.

“I think it’s a reasonable approach because, for the most part, Quebecers have done what is asked of them. And now that’s what the government is betting on. “

Despite warning that the province would announce “very difficult elections” on Wednesday night, the Quebec government chose to stick mainly to the measures that were already in place for the holidays.


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During a press conference, Prime Minister François Legault announced that the 10-person limit on holiday gatherings will remain in effect until December 26, at which point it will be reduced to six people or two households.

The prime minister also asked Quebecers to cancel their vacation plans if possible or at least keep them in a single meeting on the 24th or 25th.

For Dr. André Veillette, an immunologist at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute, the different approach is likely to be the right one, but one that the government should have taken earlier.

“They appealed to the common sense of the people, and I think that is reasonable, because they know that they are not going to control people,” Veillette said. “But it’s not when you are in an emergency situation that you should expect people to suddenly switch to automatic management mode.”


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Quebec had already tightened the measures before Wednesday’s announcement.

Last week, the province cut home gatherings to 10 people from 20 during the holidays, and ordered restaurants and stores to operate at 50 percent capacity. On Monday, he went one step further, shutting down all bars and schools and announcing a work-from-home order across the province.

On Wednesday, Legault said he believes the measures put in place will be enough to keep the situation under control in Quebec hospitals, but added that the province will not hesitate to add more restrictions if necessary.

“It’s important that everyone understands that,” Legault said.

The prime minister’s announcement came at a time when the province is facing a record number of cases and an increase in hospitalizations. After reporting 6,361 new infections on Wednesday, Legault announced that Quebec expects to register at least 9,000 new cases on Thursday. Meanwhile, hospitalizations are at 55 percent of current network capacity.


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In an interview before the government announcement, Dr. Ash Gursahaney, associate director of intensive care at McGill University Health Center, said he understands that people are tired of the measures, but believes the situation calls for more restrictions. .

“Even if the disease may not be as severe as with other variants,” Gursahaney said, “the transmission rate (of the Omicron variant) is so great that if we don’t break the chain, things will be problematic and health – the system attention will be invaded. There is no question at this time. “

In addition to the worrying increase in cases, Gursahaney said the biggest problem right now is the number of healthcare workers missing work, either because they tested positive or because they were exposed to someone who did. As a result, he said, the past few days have been a struggle to find available staff to keep ICU beds open or add more.


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“That is the true balance now,” he said. “It is not only the number of admissions to the hospital that is increasing that is happening, but also the maintenance of our staff. And obviously it’s a skill set that not everyone at the hospital has, so the resource pool is quite limited. “

While understanding that people are tired and exhausted for two years from the pandemic, Gursahaney urged Quebecers to be as careful as possible while on vacation, regardless of what measures are taken.

“We really are at a crucial moment,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the moment is just before the Christmas period, but it is absolutely necessary.”

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