On March 10, the eve of commemorations of one year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Mylène Drouin, Regional Director of Public Health of Montréal, visited the Chamber virtually to report on the state of the pandemic in the city, the number of outbreaks in the workplace, progress in the vaccination campaign, and the outlook for the coming months.
The state of COVID-19 in the city: number of cases, variants, and outbreaks in the workplace
On her second visit to the Chamber since the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Drouin provided an update on the situation with COVID-19 in the Montréal area, reporting that the number of cases has plateaued. She added that the variants are gaining ground, but public measures like the curfew are slowing the spread of new strains of the virus.
“It seems clear that the variants are more pathogenic. They represent 20% of cases on the Island of Montréal. Our suppression strategy is working, particularly with the application of public measures,” Dr. Drouin said.
Dr. Drouin also remarked that the number of outbreaks in workplaces is 127, mainly in businesses, and that public health, given the threat caused by the variants, is working as closely as possible with the CNESST to ensure a timely, rapid response to contain the spread of the virus.
Outlook for the vaccination campaign and business involvement
With the vaccination campaign in full swing, Dr. Drouin said she is confident that objectives for priority groups will be reached, particularly for those age 70 to 79.
She added that spring will be vaccination season, particularly with the participation of pharmacists, and said she is ready to work with businesses that want to offer their facilities for vaccination clinics.
“Everyone’s efforts combined will control transmission, particularly in the complex urban environment we live in,” Dr. Drouin said.
Calendar for lifting lockdown and relaxation of health measures
Questioned about a possible calendar for lifting lockdown, Dr. Drouin said that the new normal is here to stay and that what happens next will depend on the vaccination campaign. She was cautious about the upcoming relaxation of health measures, explaining, for example, that the low number of outbreaks identified in cultural venues could point to a potential reopening. However, she raised concerns about the possibility of a vaccination passport, which presents ethical and operational issues and requires more thought.
“The new normal is here to stay. Regardless of whether we can give the first dose of the vaccine to a large majority of the population in September, the rise in certain variants remains a concern,” Dr. Drouin said.