La santé

COVID live updates: Quebec schools saw 75% jump in pandemic-related absences this week – Montreal Gazette

After administering more than 1 million doses, Olympic Stadium vaccination clinic will close next week.

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Updated throughout the day on Friday, April 1. Questions/comments: ariga@postmedia.com

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Top updates

  • Opinion: Other CAQ policies stand in the way of health reforms
  • 1M doses later, Olympic Stadium vaccination clinic will close next week.
  • Document: Hospitalization trends could rise in coming weeks given recent hike in cases
  • Ontario monitoring long-term-care situation as cases rise, minister says
  • Future waves of COVID-19 likely as Canada undergoes ‘period of transition’ – Tam
  • Quebec schools saw 75% jump in pandemic-related absences this week
  • Quebec reports 17 more deaths as hospitalizations hit three-week high
  • Video: Federal officials release updated COVID-19 modelling
  • Quebec pharmacists can now prescribe Paxlovid treatment for COVID
  • Province urged to expand testing, strengthen messaging as sixth wave begins
  • Montreal employers set to bring staff back two days a week after Easter
  • Deliberate infection trial finds COVID symptoms don’t indicate viral shedding
  • Italy ends COVID-19 state of emergency, curbs to be lifted gradually
  • With carrot and stick, China presses ahead with COVID vaccinations for elderly
  • Quebec COVID guide: Vaccinations, testing
  • Sign up for our free nightly coronavirus newsletter

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4 p.m.

Thanks for reading

I’ll be back tomorrow with another live blog.

In the meantime, you can follow all our coverage via the coronavirus page.

My previous COVID-19 live blogs are available here.


3:15 p.m.

Opinion: Other CAQ policies stand in the way of health reforms

“Attracting and accommodating newcomers to the province, to inject the necessary personnel into the system, is essential to the success of the Quebec government’s health reform plan.”

Read Robert Libman’s latest column.


3:10 p.m.

1M doses later, Olympic Stadium vaccination clinic will close next week.

The mass vaccination clinic at the Olympic Stadium will close its doors on Thursday, April 7, the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal regional health authority announced today.

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“After more than a year of activity, we are proud to report that the Olympic Stadium vaccination teams will have administered more than 1 million doses of vaccine against COVID-19,” the authority said in a press release.

People seeking vaccinations can go to clinics at one of eight community health clinics  CLSCs) in eastern Montreal, with or without an appointment.

Appointments are available at the Clic Santé booking site or by phone at 1-877-644-4545.


2:45 p.m.

Document: Hospitalization trends could rise in coming weeks given recent hike in cases

This document, published today by the Public Health Agency of Canada, provides an overview of the current epidemiological situation:


2 p.m.

Recent studies: Vaccination after COVID improves immunity; ivermectin fails in major trial

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Although people who recover from COVID-19 usually gain some immune defences against reinfection, they get additional protection from vaccines, especially against severe disease, according to two studies published on Thursday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Read our full story.


1:05 p.m.

Ontario monitoring long-term-care situation as cases rise: minister

From The Canadian Press:

Ontario’s long-term care minister says the province is monitoring the situation in long-term care homes as COVID-19 cases rise and 10 per cent of homes report outbreaks.

Paul Calandra says the province expected cases to increase when Ontario lifted most public health measures, but noted that rules like mandatory masks still remain in long-term care.

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He says people in Ontario had to move on and live with COVID-19, including residents in long-term care who last month saw restrictions on visits and other social activities loosen.

The province also recently removed virtually all general public health measures like mandatory masks in most public spaces, crowd capacity limits and proof-of-vaccination rules.

Cases and hospitalizations are now ticking upwards again, including in long-term care homes, but the province’s health minister has said the government isn’t considering bringing in new measures.

Calandra says vaccinations have made long-term care safer and the province will keep providing resources to protect residents.


12:15 p.m.

Future waves of COVID-19 likely as Canada undergoes ‘period of transition’ – Tam

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From The Canadian Press:

Canada’s chief public health officer warned Friday the country is in a period of pandemic transition that might see further waves of COVID-19 cases this year.

“We anticipate that progress will not be linear, and there will likely be more bumps along the way, including a resurgence in cases this spring, and likely also in the fall and winter,” said Dr. Theresa Tam.

COVID-19 is still circulating widely and the risk of re-emergence remains, Tam said during a news briefing.

Tam advised Canadians to keep wearing masks and ensure vaccinations are up to date due to the risk of a rise in cases and in light of reduced public health measures.

Canada is observing a steady increase in the BA.2 variant of COVID-19, and ongoing genomic surveillance will remain crucial for monitoring variants of concern, she said.

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Keeping an eye on wastewater trends can also be a helpful tool for monitoring COVID-19 transmission in communities, Tam said.

An increase in in-person activities, the presence of the BA.2 variant and waning immunity might have played a part in the increase in transmission.

Tam said that as of Thursday, daily average case counts had increased by 28 per cent nationally, suggesting a resurgence is underway.

A rise in hospitalizations could therefore be seen in the country, Tam said, noting that these trends may vary by region.

But she added Canadians are now in a better position to live with the virus, and the overall effect on the health-care system might be more manageable due to high immunity in the population from vaccination and recent infection.

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11:55 a.m.

Quebec schools saw 75% jump in pandemic-related absences this week

The surge in the number of Quebec students absent due to COVID-19, which began last week, continues.

Seventy-five per cent more students were absent on Tuesday compared to a week earlier, according to an analysis of data supplied by the Education Department.

A total of 24,489 students were absent, compared to 14,015 a week earlier.

The numbers include children who tested positive as well as those who were self-isolating without a positive test.

Of the 24,489 absent on Tuesday, 13,618 were elementary school students, with 10,098 from high schools and 773 in adult education.

A week earlier, 7,882 elementary school students were absent, with 5,716 from high schools and 417 in adult education.

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The number of teachers absent because of COVID is also increasing.

On Tuesday, 1,621 were absent.

That compares with 936 last week.

The change represents a 73-per-cent increase.


11:50 a.m.

Chart: Current situation vs. one year ago


11:50 a.m.

Charts: Quebec cases, deaths


11:50 a.m.

Charts: Quebec’s vaccination campaign


11:05 a.m.

Quebec reports 17 more deaths as hospitalizations hit three-week high

Quebec has recorded 3,182 new cases of COVID-19, the provincial government announced this morning.

The case tally only includes people who received PCR tests at government screening clinics. It does not accurately reflect the number of cases since it does not include the results of home rapid tests.

In addition, 17 new deaths were reported, bringing the cumulative total to 14,382.

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Hospitalizations continue to rise and have not been this high in more than three weeks.

Some other key statistics from Quebec’s latest COVID-19 update:

  • Montreal Island: 638 cases, zero deaths.
  • Net increase in hospitalizations: 37, for total of 1,275 (177 entered hospital, 140 discharged).
  • Net decrease in intensive care patients: 4, for total of 62 (9 entered ICUs, 13 discharged).
  • 21,139 PCR tests conducted Wednesday.
  • 20,898 vaccine doses administered over previous 24 hours

11 a.m.

Video: Federal officials release updated COVID-19 modelling

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

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10:10 a.m.

Quebec pharmacists can now prescribe Paxlovid treatment for COVID

As of today, Quebecers who have COVID-19 can turn to pharmacists for prescriptions for Paxlovid, an oral treatment that reduces the severity of symptoms and the risk of hospitalization or death.

The drug is reserved for people at risk of developing serious complications, the provincial government says. They include people who are severely immunocompromised or who have chronic illnesses and are inadequately vaccinated.

The Order of Pharmacists of Quebec is urging people interested in Paxlovid not to physically go to pharmacies if they have tested positive.

“In these situations, if you are one of the target clientele, contact your pharmacy instead for a telephone consultation,” the order said in a statement.

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It noted that the drug should be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms.

Pharmacists “will carry out an assessment,” the order said. “Following this, (he or she) will judge whether a prescription is possible. They could decide, for example, not to prescribe the medication or to refer you to another professional.”

Here’s what the Quebec government’s COVID website says about eligibility for Paxlovid:

According to the recommendations issued by the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS), Paxlovid is intended for people with COVID-19 who are at high risk of complications and meet the following criteria:

  • Adults who are moderately to severely immunocompromised owing to an underlying condition or the treatment they are receiving for this condition (regardless of their vaccination status);
  • People aged 60 or older, not adequately vaccinated (fewer than two doses) or not protected against COVID-19;
  • People aged 18 or older, not adequately vaccinated (fewer than two doses) or not protected against COVID-19, and presenting with one of the following health conditions:
    • hemoglobinopathy,
    • obesity with a body mass index greater than or equal to 35,
    • diabetes,
    • chronic kidney disease,
    • liver failure,
    • high blood pressure,
    • cardiovascular and atherosclerotic disease,
    • chronic respiratory disease (for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or moderate to severe asthma);
  • Adolescents weighing at least 40 kg and pregnant women, who present with at least one of the conditions listed above and who are not adequately vaccinated (fewer than two doses) or not protected against COVID-19, after discussion with a medical specialist or an experienced health professional;
  • Exceptionally, adults who are adequately protected or vaccinated presenting with a very high risk of COVID-19 complications (for example, very old age, several co-existing medical conditions among those listed above, especially if uncontrolled, and with poor protection against the circulating variant despite a complete vaccination series), after discussion with a medical specialist or an experienced health professional.

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9:30 a.m.

Quebec urged to expand testing, strengthen messaging as sixth wave begins

With Quebec now in the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health experts are calling on the province to increase its testing capacity and strengthen messaging around the virus.

Read our full story.


9:30 a.m.

Montreal employers set to bring staff back two days a week after Easter

Many local employers are drawing up firm plans to bring staff back to the office at least two days a week after Easter, according to the city’s biggest business lobby group.

“The end of voluntary return protocols is coming,” Michel Leblanc, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, said in an interview.

Read our full story.


9:30 a.m.

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Deliberate infection trial finds COVID symptoms don’t indicate viral shedding

The world’s first “human challenge” trial in which volunteers were deliberately exposed to the coronavirus has found that symptoms did not affect how likely an infected person is to pass the disease on to others.

Read our full story.


9:30 a.m.

Italy ends COVID-19 state of emergency, curbs to be lifted gradually

Italy on Friday began to phase out its COVID-19 restrictions, ending a state of emergency public authorities declared more than two years ago that allowed it to bypass bureaucracy and swiftly impose rules via decrees.

Read our full story.


9:30 a.m.

With carrot and stick, China presses ahead with COVID vaccinations for elderly

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In China’s southern Guangdong province, a teacher was told by her school that she must somehow find four unvaccinated individuals aged 60 or older and get them to take COVID shots to help boost the district’s elderly inoculation rate.

Read our full story.


9:15 a.m.

Quebec COVID guide: Vaccinations, testing

Vaccinations

Testing

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8:30 a.m.

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ariga@postmedia.com

Read my previous live blogs here.


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  2. Paramedics transport a patient suspected of having COVID-19 to the special COVID section of the emergency room at the Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal on Jan. 13, 2022.

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  3. Louis Fequiere Zama receives his first shot of COVID-19 vaccine by nurse Chad Gherbaz at Olympic Stadium in 2021.

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  4. Senior citizens sit in the waiting area after receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations at Decarie Square in Montreal on Monday, March 1, 2021.

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