Four new regions of Quebec were placed in “early warning” Tuesday (yellow zone) and some could soon reach the level of “moderate alert”. Deeming the situation “critical”, the Legault government once again called on citizens to be more responsible, by limiting private gatherings and respecting public health measures.
“There is a real risk of a second wave, a wave strong enough for us to be forced to start confining Quebecers again. We don’t want that ”, declared the Prime Minister, Francois Legault, at a press conference in Quebec on Tuesday, alongside the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, and the national director of public health, Horacio Arruda.
Deeming the situation “critical and worrying”, the Prime Minister launched a “call for solidarity” and asked Quebecers to limit ” parties family or parties friends ”, responsible for the community transmission which has accelerated in recent weeks. “If the virus continues to spread at this rate, we risk having people who will occupy hospital beds, people who will eventually die. There is also a risk of overcrowding hospitals, and people will have their surgery postponed, ”said Mr. Legault.
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Nearly 300 new cases were recorded on Tuesday – a record since the month of June -, pushing the government to place the regions of Montreal, Montérégie, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Chaudière-Appalaches in yellow “pre-alert” zone , level 2 of the four-level regional alert system adopted by Quebec.
These regions are in addition to those of the Capitale-Nationale, Estrie, Outaouais and Laval, which were already on “early warning” since last week. In total, eight out of 18 regions have now reached this level, which represents 75% of the population.
Citizens in the yellow zone should expect more inspections and heightened vigilance from police officers to enforce public health guidelines, such as wearing masks, physical distancing and limiting people in gatherings.
If no region has passed in the orange zone, ie “moderate alert”, some could reach it very soon, believes the government, which says it is closely monitoring the regions of Quebec and Bas-Saint-Laurent.
“We will definitely have some orange soon,” said Dr Horacio Arruda, begging Quebeckers to respect the measures in order to flatten the contaminations curve again. “It is the life and economy of a people that would still risk being damaged. We don’t want to play in that film. “
At this alert level, the restrictions will increase. We are talking about closing bars and dining rooms in restaurants, which will have to be limited to take out orders. The number of people allowed in public gatherings will increase from 250 to 50 and from 10 to 6 in private residences.
” The parties private sector is our biggest problem, ”said Mr. Dubé. He gave as an example a gathering of 17 people in a restaurant in Montérégie which is at the origin of at least 31 cases. “We will have to screen 330 customers who are registered in the register of that restaurant. So, imagine the workload for the people from Public Health to contact all these people. And unfortunately, there are people who do not even answer calls, ”he laments.
The Minister of Health thus announced the ban on the sale of food after midnight in bars, a tactic used in certain establishments to continue the sale of alcohol, conducive to reconciliations.
In the Bas-Saint-Laurent, several private parties and groupings in bars also led to an explosion of contaminations. In the past 48 hours, the region has registered 40 new cases, including 30 linked to private gatherings.
Several people also did not respect their isolation, which worsened the situation, according to the director of public health of Bas-Saint-Laurent, Sylvain Leduc, who commented on the situation later in the day. He did not rule out resorting to legal measures to curb the spread of the virus. “If ever legal orders are needed to enforce isolation, we will do it. “
In Montreal, private gatherings are also causing headaches for authorities, who recently saw outbreaks following two weddings and a teenage party. The metropolis has registered 96 new cases in the last 24 hours, against 36 the day before.
In addition, Mr. Dubé announced that wearing a mask will now be compulsory in common areas, corridors and elevators in retirement homes. Several outbreaks have been declared in this type of establishment recently, particularly in the Chaudière-Appalaches region, where an infected hairdresser without knowing it went to six different settings to do hair for seniors. Once the virus entered the walls, it spread at great speed.
However, for the Regroupement québécois des residences privées pour seniors, this is a “disproportionate” measure, which does not take into account the level of alert in each region. “It is not modulated, notes its Chairman and CEO, Yves Desjardins. We have green areas, yellow areas. We ask a lot of seniors. “
He wonders above all how this measure can be rigorously applied when the staff is lacking. “We don’t have an employee every 20 feet to check if the elders are wearing it,” he says. People with cognitive impairment find it extremely difficult to get them to understand the measurements. “