A leading infectious disease specialist in Quebec says there is a disconnect between government inaction and the severity of the growing number of hospitalizations and deaths.
Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at Montreal’s CHUM, says the province’s health care system could soon be overwhelmed – again – with 10,000 health care workers already off work amid the coronavirus pandemic. sixth pandemic wave of infections.
In two weeks, the province is expected to lift nearly all masking requirements.
Although the acting director of public health, Dr Luc Boileau, said he would advise the government on whether to keep the mask mandates and reimpose the restrictions next week, the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé said that so far those plans are not changing.
Boileau said he’s counting on Quebecers to use common sense, exercise caution and reduce contact.
But Tremblay said that would not be enough to protect hospital capacity. The Omicron BA.2 variant is even more contagious than the previous one – up to 70% more by some estimates, she said.
“I don’t think the [government] message is appropriate to the current situation,” Tremblay said, noting that he leaves at-risk populations to fend for themselves.
“Ten to 12 people a day are dying from COVID. You know, that’s a lot of people dying,” she said. “Is this what it means to live with the virus? Not for me. I do not accept this.
Tremblay said she was not in favor of another complete shutdown, but she is calling on the government to maintain masking restrictions and reduce capacity in certain businesses where there is a higher risk of infection, such as restaurants.
“The pandemic is not over and this sixth wave will probably be as bad as the fifth. We should at least have the same sense of urgency,” Tremblay said.
On Thursday, the province reported 1,238 people hospitalized, 3,319 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths.
“It is time to act as responsible citizens”
Myrna Lashley, a psychologist and associate professor at McGill University, said it was clear the government was reluctant to reimpose restrictions because it feared the backlash and economic fallout.
Therefore, Lashley advises Quebecers to exercise caution in order to protect themselves and others.
“A lot of people complained about being treated like children and being taken away from their agency and being told what to do,” Lashley said.
“Well, now is the time to show that sense of responsibility. Now is the time to really act as responsible citizens.”
News that a sixth wave was underway came as Dubé launched consultations on Thursday on his bill to end the health emergency.
Responding to opposition criticism that he was trying to retain too many emergency powers, Dubé on Thursday tabled amendments and a new title to the bill, to reflect the ‘temporary and transitional’ measures the government wants. to keep.
One of the amendments would explicitly extend measures such as allowing medical professionals like dental hygienists and veterinarians to administer COVID-19 vaccines, and allow distance education in schools, among other measures. .
It would also allow the government to maintain the masking provisions until December 31 at the latest. However, a spokesperson for the Minister specified that the measure would be maintained until “Dr. Boileau has a new recommendation on this subject”.