Quebec remains in a “fragile situation” amid the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic even as normal life gradually resumes, the province’s interim public health director said Friday.
“We can’t forget the virus is present and the pandemic isn’t over,” Dr. Luc Boileau said during a news conference Friday.
“We’re seeing it. We all know someone who has recently contracted COVID-19 and some have even contracted COVID-19 again.”
He urged caution among Quebecers as recent projections show hospitalizations related to the virus will continue to rise over the next two weeks. The province’s health-care research institute predicts there could be up to 265 new admissions per day by that time.
Boileau said that hospitalizations, while high, shouldn’t overwhelm the health network. But the absence of more than 13,000 heath-care workers due to COVID-19 could be particularly tough for health-care centres and long-term care homes in regions with lower capacity compared to big cities.
“We expect it to still be difficult for the next few days, or a couple of weeks,” he said, adding that he’s “quite confident” the system will hold “and be able to sustain the services that are needed.”
Quebecers who haven’t received the third dose of the novel coronavirus vaccine should do so as soon as possible, Boileau said. As pandemic indicators remain high, people should also keep an eye out for symptoms and isolate when necessary, he added.
The call for vigilance comes as the province reported 30 new deaths linked to the disease and a 55-patient rise Friday.
Pandemic-related hospitalizations totalled 1,637 after people 230 were admitted and 175 were discharged in the last day. Health authorities say intensive care unit cases dropped by two to 62.
The daily tally included 3,572 new novel coronavirus cases, though it’s not a full picture of the situation since PCR testing is only open to select groups.
The province also reported the results of 1,412 rapid tests, which are self-declared by Quebecers. Of those tests, 1,199 were positive for the virus.
The vaccination campaign doled out 35,199 doses in a 24-hour period for more than 18.7 million shots to date.
Quebec’s death toll has reached 14,512 while the official caseload stood at 992,649 in the latest roundup. Recoveries from the virus, meanwhile, surpassed 947,000.
New recommendations for rapid tests
The province has also issued new guidelines on how to perform rapid tests at home. It is the screening tool used by the majority of Quebecers since access to government-run testing sites is limited to at-risk groups.
The latest recommendation includes swabbing both the mouth and throat before the nose.
Boileau said recent studies have shown that the Omicron BA.2 subvariant affects the upper respiratory tract. As a result, swabbing the mouth and throat are more likely to give accurate test results.
— with files from The Canadian Press