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Montreal ‘flirting’ with orange but not out of COVID-19 red zone yet: public health

People gather next to the Lachine Canal on a warm spring day in Montreal, Saturday, May 15, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Montreal is on the “right track” but the city is not out of the COVID-19 red zone yet, according to the the director of the public health department.

Mylène Drouin told reporters Wednesday that the plan to aggressively screen and isolate emerging cases has paid off in keeping the pandemic’s third wave at bay. Targeted vaccination campaigns and the province’s strict health orders also played a role, she said.

She also thanked Montrealers for being patient and abiding by the rules, but she urged them to stay vigilant as restrictions ease and sectors reopen in the coming weeks.

“The pandemic is not over,” she said. “We still have a bit of a way to go.”

The seven-day rolling average shows that there are about 215 new infections reported each day. Cases are quickly dropping this week, but Drouin said testing is significantly low in the past few days — probably due to the long holiday weekend.

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READ MORE: Montreal, Laval to stay as COVID-19 red zones as Quebec begins to reopen

As a result, she said the city is hovering between its current red-zone designation and the lower orange level on Quebec’s colour-coded pandemic system.

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“We are flirting with the orange zone,” she said.

Drouin’s comments come one day after the province announced Montreal and neighbouring Laval will remain on maximum alert until at least June 7. But the nightly curfew will be lifted, outdoor dining spaces can reopen and small backyard gatherings will be allowed as planned starting this Friday.

“If it’s not (June) 7th then it will be soon,” she said about being downgraded to orange.

The positivity rate in the city stands around three per cent, she said. But some neighbourhoods are hit harder than others, including Parc-Extension and Bordeaux-Cartierville.

Nine outbreaks linked to parks

There are currently 216 outbreaks in Montreal, including 68 in workplaces and 64 in schools. Where public health authorities are seeing a small increase in outbreaks is in communities.

Nine of 16 outbreaks are associated with parks — though each involved fewer than 10 cases. With private gatherings banned, Drouin chalked up those outbreaks to more people spending time together outside as the warm weather set in.

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The risk of spreading COVID-19 is not as high outdoors, but caution is still needed, she said.

READ MORE: Excessive drinking dips in Quebec but boredom, stress from COVID-19 remain factors: poll

“We have to maintain distancing and, of course, do not share glasses, cigarettes or whatever, food, with friends or people that are not in your family,” Drouin said.

She also urged Montrealers to be careful even as vaccination ramps up. A single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t mean full protection either, she added.

“Not all of the population is immune,” she said.

There is also a rise in cases among young adults who are between the ages of 18 and 24, she added. Anyone who has symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus should go get tested.

Click to play video: 'Legault says Montreal, Laval to stay as COVID-19 red zones until at least June 7'
Legault says Montreal, Laval to stay as COVID-19 red zones until at least June 7

With files from The Canadian Press

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