Has Quebec succeeded in flattening the curve?

Quebec stayed above the 1,000 new daily COVID-19 case mark this weekend, a level around which it has hovered for more than two weeks. While a plateau appears to be emerging, it is still too early to assess the real effect of the measures adopted by the government, experts say.

Some 1,279 new infections were reported on Saturday and 1,094 on Sunday, bringing the total to 93,391 since the virus first appeared on Quebec soil. No deaths have occurred in the last 24 hours, according to the most recent data from the Ministry of Health, but 6 deaths were added to the toll on Sunday, of which 3 occurred between October 11 and 16, 1 other before 11 October and 2 of which took place on an unknown date. In all, 6,038 people have died from COVID-19 in the province.

The number of hospitalizations continues to increase, with 10 more patients than the previous day, bringing the total to 527 hospitalizations. There are 88 patients in intensive care, including 3 new ones in the last 24 hours.

“Despite the stabilization of cases in the last two weeks, hospitalizations continue [d’augmenter]. We must break the wave to slow this down [hausse] and thus protect the most vulnerable and our health network ”, wrote the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, on his Twitter account on Sunday. Quebecers must therefore continue their efforts to flatten the curve, which currently varies from one region to another.

In Montérégie and Mauricie – Center-du-Québec, the number of new contaminations has been increasing day by day for the past two weeks. Conversely, the situation in Montreal has stabilized, with the number of new daily cases remaining below 300 for a week. A figure that was growing visibly in the last month and even reached 442 on October 5, a level not seen since last May.

The curve has taken the same direction in Laval, where the number of new daily cases has remained on average around 60 for a week, compared to 172 on October 4. “We can see that it continues to increase in regions which adopted strict measures later. It has been less than two weeks since these regions have been in the red zone ”, underlines Dr David Lussier, who practices at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal.

Possible answers

However, it is difficult to associate stabilization in certain regions solely with their faster entry into the red zone when, during the same period, the Capitale-Nationale – also on maximum alert since 1er October – saw a further rise in daily cases over the weekend. While there were 93 new infections on Wednesday, that number has steadily risen since, reaching 227 in the past 24 hours.

For the Dr Lussier, this situation can be explained by outbreaks located in CHSLDs, hospitals or schools in the region. “It should also be remembered that, in the region, the Charlevoix sector recently entered the red zone. This may have an influence on the figures, but unfortunately we do not have the details, “he said.

For her part, Roxane Borgès Da Silva, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal, wonders: “No matter how much we announce measures, do the people respect them? Do we have more private gatherings in Quebec City than in Montreal, for example? That could explain this increase in the Capitale-Nationale. “

It is still too early, in his opinion, to assess whether the measures adopted by the government are having any real effect. “It seems stable in the Montreal region, but a big outbreak in a school or a CHSLD would suffice for the same situation to be observed as in Quebec,” she emphasizes.

The professor also notes that the fluctuation in the number of tests from day to day influences our perception of the data. Thus, when the daily toll fell below the 1000 mark at the beginning of last week, the number of tests had decreased, during the same period, falling below the mark of 22,000 daily tests.

An opinion shared by Patrick Déry, an independent worker working as an analyst in public policies. “The slight drop at the trough of the week (923, 844, 969) will have coincided with the drop in tests,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday, referring to the fact that less than 22,000 tests were performed on the same. three-day period, compared to nearly 30,000 in early October.

“We must rely more on hospitalizations to judge whether the new measures are effective. But there is always a time lag between when you first have symptoms and when you enter the hospital. We will know more in two to three weeks, ”concludes Roxanne Borgès Da Silva.

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