Quebec’s Côte-Nord region recovering despite high COVID-19 transmission rate: health officials

A nurse prepares a swab at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson. pch

Quebec’s Côte-Nord region has the highest COVID-19 transmission rate in the province, but health officials in the area 500 kilometres north of Quebec City say the situation is improving.

There are 500 cases per 100,000 people in the northern region, which has a population of about 90,000. Provincewide, there are 171 active cases per 100,000 people.

Health authorities on Tuesday said there were 47 COVID-19 patients in the region’s hospitals, down six from last week. They reported three more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, which occurred within the previous seven days.

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Marlène Joseph-Blais, spokesperson for the local health authority, said Tuesday that despite the high transmission rate — compared with previous waves of the virus — the situation is under control.

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“We are noting a downward trend in the number of cases and hospitalizations in the last three weeks,” Joseph-Blais said in an interview.

Officials reported 448 active cases in the region on Tuesday, a drop of about 100 from last week. Joseph-Blais said the high transmission rate can be explained, in part, by the fact many Indigenous communities are located in the region and they are part of the high-risk groups that still have access to PCR testing.

Most Quebecers are only able to get diagnoses through take-home rapid tests, and those results are not included in the province’s official case count.

Read more: Quebec logs 14 new COVID-19 deaths as hospitalizations remain on downswing

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Meanwhile, Quebec reported 14 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus on Tuesday and a seven-patient drop in hospitalizations related to the disease. The Health Department said there were 1,439 people hospitalized with COVID-19, after 86 patients were admitted in the past 24 hours and 93 were discharged.

Officials reported 698 new cases detected through PCR testing.

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