Quebec is introducing a novel coronavirus alert and intervention system aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 and preventing a possible second wave as fall looms.
The colour-coded system developed by public health has four progressive levels for each region: green, yellow, orange and red. Green calls for vigilance while red, the highest level, means that maximum restrictions will be applied in that part of the province.
The levels are based on three criteria: the epidemiological situation, the control of transmission and the state of the health-care system.
“Those levels will be reviewed each week by public health authorities,” Health Minister Christian Dubé told reporters on Tuesday.
The levels carry different measures to be enacted depending on the status of an outbreak, including reducing the number of people in private gatherings, restricting travel between regions and curtailing commercial activities.
Dubé said the new tool will help the public navigate the new reality of living with the pandemic and adapt to an evolving situation.
“The virus is really there. It’s very much still present,” he said, adding that transmission in the province is community-based.
The new alert system comes as health authorities reported 163 new cases on Tuesday — a decrease in cases for the first time in about a week.
The majority of regions remain in the green zone, including Montreal. However, the regions of Quebec City, Laval, Estrie, Outaouais are currently in yellow level, according to Dubé.
He also stressed that approaches will be different for each region and that “temporary measures” could be enacted in specific areas, depending on transmission.
Over the past week, a surge in new cases led to officials to call on Quebecers to be vigilant and abide by public health directives to limit the spread of the virus.
The government has not tightened restrictions as a result, but Premier François Legault has said any new measures would be implemented region by region.
The province also reported no new deaths on Tuesday. The number of hospitalizations related to the virus remains at 105, while the number of patients in intensive care has dropped to 15 from 18.
Quebec remains the hardest hit by the COVID-19 health crisis, with more than 63,700 cases and 5,770 deaths to date.
— With files from the Canadian Press