COVID-19: Quebec has “all the elements” for a seventh wave

COVID-19: Quebec has “all the elements” for a seventh wave

Quebec could well be at the start of a seventh wave of COVID-19, according to public health officials. In a press briefing this morning, the national director of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, expressed concern about the increase in transmission in the community and the number of outbreaks, while the number of absent workers remains high in the health network.

The three variants BA.2.12.1, BA4 and BA5 would be the cause of more than three quarters of the infections identified in Quebec. Public health recalls, however, that these are not more virulent than the previous strains. Even if the transmissibility of these variants would be greater.

Dr. Jean Longtin, microbiologist and clinical expert in support of the scientific management of the pandemic of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), points out that the declaration of the presence of a new wave is generally made a posteriori. He says, however, that “all the elements suggest a wave” currently in Quebec.

It’s still too early to tell today […] It is the magnitude of the wave and the duration that remains to be determined.

Dr. Jean Longtin, microbiologist and clinical expert supporting the scientific management of the MSSS pandemic

As of June 29, Quebec has identified 1,716 new cases and deplores four new deaths. The province recorded 1,260 hospitalizations, an increase of 64 hospitalizations.

“The situation is not exactly what it was a few months or two weeks ago,” explained Dr. Luc Boileau.

On Wednesday, the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) unveiled the most recent results of the sampling of wastewater. The most recent data show a new peak in the presence of COVID-19 in Montreal and Laval wastewater. The downward trend is also reversed in other municipalities.

However, according to Dr. Boileau, recent wastewater data are “encouraging” and some indices would show a likely decline.

A situation that should last several weeks

This increase in cases is expected to continue over the next few days and weeks. Public health predicts a decrease over the next few weeks. Dr Longtin gave the example of European countries that had a similar situation for eight weeks, such as Portugal.

The National Institute for Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESS) estimates that the number of hospitalizations could climb to 1,600 over the next two weeks. These estimates are far from the number of hospitalizations during the sixth wave, which was 2,350 hospitalizations.

Dr. Boileau affirmed that the health network can cope with this increase despite the absence of workers. A total of 6,285 workers are absent for reasons related to COVID-19.

“The network is always ready to respond to whatever comes its way, but it’s not necessarily happy […] The number of absences related to COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks,” explained Dr. Boileau.

No new restrictions, but a call for vigilance

Public health does not plan to recommend stronger restrictive measures. It invites the population to be vigilant and people at risk to wear a mask if they wish.

Public health, however, recommends that people at risk get a second booster dose three months after their last dose or a COVID-19 infection.

It is recommended that symptomatic people bring rapid tests and isolate themselves in the event of a positive result.

People at risk who have contracted the virus are advised to consult their pharmacist to receive the drug Paxlovid. The latter prevents the development of medical complications.

A new vaccination campaign is expected at the end of the summer. The deployment of these vaccines better adapted to the variants will depend on their date of arrival and the number of doses available. The use of these vaccines will be a priority for populations at risk.

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