At the time when a first case of COVID-19 was detected in Quebec, the Dr Horacio Arruda was making jokes about the pandemic and challenged its dangers to the participants of a congress of pharmacists africans in Morocco.
“I told my people to wait until I return before we have our first case of coronavirus in Quebec. Well, they didn’t expected”, launched the national director of public health at the end of February, in a presentation available on YouTube.
“Then, in return, the evaluations of my assistant managers will be very bad,” he added, causing laughter in the audience.
Dr. Arruda said that he had learned, taking part in a phone call the night before, a first case of the disease had been recorded in Quebec. It will be recalled that it was a woman from Montreal who had contracted the virus during a trip in Iran.
Mr. Arruda was part of the congress Officine Expo 2020 at the Palais des congrès of Marrakech. He had been invited to make a presentation on the profession of chemist in Quebec and another on the medical use of cannabis.
In his presentation, he continues by challenging the scope of the pandemic.
“I want to tell you that this is an important issue [coronavirus], but that takes a lot of space in the media. But there are several public health issues, in my opinion, that is not put in place, with diseases that kill even more than that: social inequalities in health, etc”
It also speaks of her position at public health in terms that are surprising.
“I am a man who works in a ministry. Yes, where I would never have wanted to end my career, and I am,” he confides to the participants.
Another odd item of his presentation, the PowerPoint slides that he uses to describe the profession of pharmacist in Quebec displayed in the lower-left corner, the old slogan of the Quebec liberal Party: “Together, we move Quebec”.
Mr. Arruda was absent from the province of Quebec at the end of the month of February and at the beginning of the month of march, while the pandemic coronavirus took off. His participation in the congress of Marrakech, spread out over two days, on 28 and 29 February. Then, depending on what the media reported, he would have taken a holiday in Morocco. He was back in Quebec march 8.
During this time, other directors of public health in Canada, as Bonnie Henry, British Columbia, were working hard to put in place successful measures to combat the pandemic.