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COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know this weekend

Health Canada has approved AstraZeneca's Evusheld, a new antibody-based therapy for preventing COVID-19 infections in immunocompromised people. Meanwhile, experts say Quebecers can reduce the risk of spreading the virus over the holiday long weekend by taking some precautions. Here's what you need to know.

Health Canada approves new AstraZeneca COVID-19 drug for immunocompromised people

A two-shot dose of AstraZeneca's Evusheld, the first set of antibodies grown in a lab to prevent COVID-19, is prepared at a University of Washington Medicine clinic on Jan. 20, 2022, in Seattle. On Thursday, Health Canada approved the drug for those aged 12 years and older who are immunocompromised, or for whom vaccination is not recommended. (Associated Press/Ted Warren)
  • On Thursday, Quebec reported 2,154 people in hospital (an increase of 94 from the previous day), including 96 in intensive care (an increase of 13 from the previous day).
  • The province reported 3,190 new cases of COVID-19 and 26 deaths. 
  • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,010,196 confirmed cases, and 14,618 people have died.
  • The province also reported 12,995 health-care workers absent for COVID-related reasons.
  • 91 per cent of the eligible population in the province (aged five and up) have received one dose of the vaccine; 87 per cent have received two doses, and 54 per cent have received three doses.

*The new cases are those reported to the Quebec government only. They are believed to be an underrepresentation of the virus's spread, given the limited availability of PCR tests and use of home testing kits.

*Quebec's Health Ministry no longer reports COVID-19 numbers on the weekend.

Canada has approved a new antibody-based therapy developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc, designed to prevent COVID-19 infections.

Health Canada has cleared the drug — Evusheld — for use in individuals aged 12 years and older who are immunocompromised and unlikely to mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination, or for whom COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended.

Side effects for up to one in 10 recipients are said to potentially include a rash, pain or itching at the site of injection, with a much smaller number of people potentially experiencing headaches, chills or soreness after receiving the shots.

Health Canada said in a statement on Thursday that there is not yet enough data to be sure that Evusheld is safe for use in those pregnant or breastfeeding, so those individuals are advised to discuss the potential benefits and risks with a health-care professional.

The therapy has already been authorized in the United States and its use has also been recommended by the European Medicines Agency.

Reducing COVID-19 risk for weekend gatherings

Quebecers may be fed up with the pandemic, but COVID-19 cases are on the rise and so are hospital admissions. And with fewer restrictions in place, experts say it's harder than ever to gauge your risk of getting the virus.

Quebec infectious diseases specialists say it's unrealistic to expect people not to gather during this holiday weekend, so they shared some tips to help limit the risk of infection during your gatherings.

During big events, experts say it's important to be prudent and mindful of others, especially those who are more vulnerable to the disease.

Experts agree that if you have any COVID-19 symptoms — no matter how mild — you should cancel your plans and stay home.

WATCH | Montrealers explain their plans for this holiday weekend:

Are Montrealers gathering this holiday weekend?

3 months ago
Duration 1:16
Reporter Sharon Yonan-Renold asks Atwater market-goers their plans for the long weekend amid the sixth wave.

If you don't have symptoms, they suggest testing yourself with a rapid test a few hours before the event, paying particular attention to swabbing your nose as well as either the inside of both cheeks or the back of your throat.

Experts also say ventilation is your best friend. If it's not possible to gather outside, then crack some windows open, and you should also think about masking up.

Outaouais hospitals suspend visits

The Outaouais regional health authority has suspended visits at its hospitals until further notice.

In a news release Friday, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) said it made the decision to protect the region's health-care workers and most vulnerable people during the current wave of COVID-19.

Caregivers can still visit their loved ones while respecting all public health measures that are in place.

Hospitals in Gatineau, Hull, Papineau, Maniwaki, Shawville and Wakefield are all affected by the decision.

Top COVID-19 stories

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

       
  • Fever. 
  •    
  • New or worsening cough. 
  •    
  • Difficulty breathing. 
  •    
  • Sudden loss of smell without a stuffy nose.
  •    
  • Gastrointestinal issues (such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting).
  •    
  • Sore throat
  •    
  • Generalized muscle pain.
  •    
  • Headache.
  •    
  • Fatigue.
  •    
  • Loss of appetite.

If you think you may have COVID-19, the government asks that you call 1‑877‑644‑4545 to schedule an appointment at a screening clinic. 

To reserve an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, you can go on the online portal quebec.ca/covidvaccine. You can also call 1-877-644-4545.

You can find information on COVID-19 in the province here and information on the situation in Montreal here

 

With files from Radio-Canada

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