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COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know Tuesday

The province is reducing the isolation period for most people who test positive for COVID-19 from 10 to five days. Here's what you need to know.

Health-care workers who test positive will still need to isolate for 7 days

Canadian Armed Forces personnel have been deployed to vaccination centres in Quebec to assist, in light of near-critical staffing shortages. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)
  • Quebec reported 14,494 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 21 new deaths.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 665,822 confirmed cases and 11,781 people have died.
  • There are 1,592 people in hospital (an increase of 196 from the previous day), including 185 in intensive care (an increase of four). 
  • On Tuesday, the province reported a total of 15,400,659 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered.
  • 89 per cent of the eligible population in the province (ages five and up) has received one dose of vaccine, 82 per cent have received two doses, and 18 per cent have received three doses.

Quebecers with at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine who test positive will only have to isolate for five days.

The Quebec government made the announcement at a technical briefing Tuesday. Previously, all those who tested positive had to remain in isolation for 10 days after symptoms began.

The person must also have spent 24 hours without a fever before coming out of isolation. For the following five days, the person must wear a mask and keep a distance of two metres from others.

If these conditions cannot be met, the 10-day isolation remains in effect. 

Children under 12 will also be able to take advantage of the five-day isolation period.

Other provinces have also moved to reduce the period to five days, including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. The United States also only requires a five-day isolation.

Health-care workers in the province will also have their isolation period reduced, but only to seven days. In some cases, COVID-positive health care staff may still be called into work.

The government also announced that PCR tests will no longer be made widely available. Now, only health-care workers, the homeless and First Nations communities as well as those those visiting or admitted to a hospital will have access to PCR testing. 

New rules for long-term care homes, residences

Quebec is tightening its measures around seniors residences and long-term care homes, or CHSLDs, in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

Only those considered caregivers will be allowed to enter the facilities. In CHSLDs and intermediary services, it is limited to one person per resident per day. In private seniors residences, only one caregiver can go at a time, for a maximum of two people per resident per day.

The homes will be tasked with asking each resident to identity a maximum of four people to be considered caregivers in order to limit the amount of people who have access to the home. A vaccine passport will be required, regardless of whether it is a private or public facility.

The Quebec government said the measures are to address a rise in care homes reporting outbreaks of 10 cases or more.

As of Jan. 2, there were 2,640 cases in long-term care, representing 521 homes, according to the health ministry.

Vacations might get cut for health care workers

Some health care workers may be forced to give up their vacations, as the Quebec health care system grapples with a near-critical labour shortage.

Regional health boards have special powers under a ministerial decree to ensure there's sufficient staff during the public health emergency. Those powers include changing schedules and cancelling time off.

Quebec's Health Ministry said more than 11,000 health-care workers are currently missing from the network due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is forcing some facilities to consider cancelling vacation.

"It's like déja vu. It's the first wave all over again," said Kristina Hoare, who speaks for Quebec's largest nursing union, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ).

"It's almost like a PTSD for a lot of these health-care workers of: 'I'm going to have to change my whole life around because I don't have a choice.' It's going to be between spending time with your kids and your family and being stuck at work."

Military staff assisting in Quebec

Starting Monday, Canadian Armed Forces personnel will be deployed in Quebec to assist in the province's vaccination efforts, as the health-care system struggles with rising hospitalizations.

 About 200 military personnel will be participating, but only a few are medical staff. The vast majority will be assisting with planning and logistical tasks related to the vaccination campaign in several regions including Montreal, Laval and the Eastern Townships.

According to a spokesperson for the Forces, military personnel could be present in vaccination centres welcoming people to the site, guiding them through the process, and cleaning and disinfecting. 

Third-dose appointments are now available on Clic-Santé for those aged 55 and up.

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 La Presse Canadienne, Radio-Canada and Franca Mignacca

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