A first case of COVID-19 has been detected in Mauricie, the ministry of health and social services (MSSS) said on Wednesday.
T he CIUSSS of Mauricie and Center-du-Québec indicates that it is a woman who was returning from a trip to France. “She went to consult in a public institution in the region and is currently in voluntary isolation at home,” said Guillaume Cliche, information officer at the CIUSSS MCQ.
Mr. Cliche did not specify to which institution this person went, to avoid being identified and potentially stigmatized, as was the case last weekend for students from Val-Mauricie school returning from a trip to Italy and Greece. The CIUSSS MCQ indicated last weekend that the 48 students were all asymptomatic and had exceeded the COVID-19 incubation period. The confirmed case on Wednesday has no connection with the trip organized by the Val-Mauricie school.
Mr. Cliche also said that he did not know whether the hospital center that received the lady infected with the coronavirus had been notified before her arrival. The CIUSSS MCQ recommends that people who think they have symptoms of COVID-19 contact the Info-santé service at 811. They will then make sure to notify the establishment where they intend to go, in order to that measures be taken to protect the public and employees of the health care network upon arrival, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We confirm that the procedures (at the establishment visited by the lady) have been properly applied,” he said, however.
A few hours after announcing the existence of a case in Mauricie, the MSSS indicated via Twitter the confirmation of a ninth case, in Estrie. Returning from Italy, this person placed himself in segregation at home.
More business trips
The concern around the coronavirus escalated on Wednesday in the capital, as the Legault government announced a series of measures, some voluntary others mandatory, intended to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in Quebec.
A government directive to hospital staff now enjoins them to give up traveling abroad, whether professional or personal. However, this is a voluntary measure, unlike the one targeting state employees.
The CIUSSS MCQ confirms that all of its employees’ travel for professional reasons has been canceled. However, it simply invites its employees to take into account the risks before leaving for a personal trip.
“If you make this decision, be vigilant and be aware that the situation can change quickly, some countries may become at risk. If you are not ready to lose 14 days of work (due to voluntary isolation on return), it’s a good idea, ”says Guillaume Cliche.
Nathalie Perron, President of the Mauricie and Center-du-Québec Care Professionals Union, deplores the alarmist tone used by Premier Legault.
“Our members are worried about the trips already planned. Professionals are trained and already apply basic prevention measures. I am more worried about people who do not have the knowledge or who are careless, ”she says.
In addition, until further notice, all employees of the Québec public service will be prohibited from making business trips abroad.
The government also recommends that students who have returned from a school trip to a country at risk of having a two-week quarantine, whether or not they have symptoms.
School administrators will also be invited to cancel school trips planned for countries at risk.
Hosting large gatherings has become another concern in Quebec. For the moment, we are not targeting local events, but major international events will now be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they should be canceled or not.
The virus has already claimed its first victim: the holding of the world figure skating championships, scheduled for next week in Montreal, has been canceled.
Each person experiencing symptoms of the disease (cough, breathing difficulties) should call 811, advised for his part Prime Minister François Legault in a scrum of press, recalling the basic hygiene measures that are required, namely wash your hands frequently and avoid shaking hands with anyone. In the restaurant, it is suggested to ignore the buffets.
Except that, already, the line 811 overflows and the waiting time for information can reach an hour, or even more, an “exponential” increase, noted the Minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann.
But the worst, apparently, remains to come. “Sure, given what is going on in the world, we are expecting an increase (in the number) of cases,” said National Director of Public Health Horacio Arruda. The opposite would be “unthinkable”, according to the expert, who expects to deplore deaths in the coming months in Quebec.
In the best of cases, there could be a lull in the spring, but the virus could come back in force in the fall, he predicted, saying that at this stage it was very difficult to specify which will be the scale of the epidemic among us.
In the coming months, we should also expect to see educational institutions, schools and universities, close their doors for a time, if we evaluate that they have become “hotbeds of transmission,” said Mr. Arruda.
On the other hand, he should not expect to see a vaccine appear before the end of the year.
Under these circumstances, anyone returning from travel, regardless of country, should be alert to the appearance of any symptoms and not hesitate to consult, hopes Arruda.
Particular attention must be paid to the most vulnerable, such as the elderly who live in shelters “and who are at risk,” added Premier Legault.
“I ask Quebecers to be careful,” he said, adopting a more alarmist tone than in the past to address this public health issue.
The minister responsible for seniors, Marguerite Blais, added, to urge Quebecers with elderly relatives to be “extremely careful” in their contact with vulnerable seniors.
“If you have traveled during the past 14 days, abstain” from going to visit an elderly person, especially if they live in a residential center, insisted Ms. Blais, in a message to the population.
Prime Minister Legault was also satisfied with the $ 1 billion federal plan proposed that morning by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and intended to better support the provinces struggling with the epidemic, now called “global pandemic” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Minister McCann said that the health network was ready to consider any eventuality: hospitals have stockpiled protective equipment, negative pressure rooms will be available, elective surgeries will be postponed if necessary to free up additional beds. “We are preparing for the worst scenarios,” she said, being reassuring on the issue of money.
Because the financial resources required will be available in all cases, according to the minister, by resuming the speech given the day before by the Minister of Finance, Éric Girard.
Prime Minister Legault also said that if things went wrong and Quebec was hit head-on by COVID-19, his government could count on a stabilization reserve valued at $ 14 billion.