COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know Wednesday
Police are cracking down on fake vaccine passport holders
- Quebec reported 478 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and four new deaths.
- Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 423,813 confirmed cases and 11,485 people have died.
- There are 257 people in hospital (a decrease of two), including 66 in intensive care (no change).
- The province has administered 13,195,339 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 10,021 in the past 24 hours.
- 90 per cent of the eligible population in the province (age 12 and up) has received one dose of vaccine, and 86 per cent has received two doses.
Note: Quebec's Health Ministry does not publish the number of vaccines administered on weekends and public holidays.
With the spread of COVID-19 in Quebec seemingly under control, the province has decided to not impose a vaccination mandate for school staff.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the province's Health Ministry said it strongly recommends staff get vaccinated, but it does not believe it is necessary to make it mandatory.
According to the ministry, the decision is based on the province's improving epidemiological situation, the limited number of outbreaks in schools and the fact that school-age children seem to experience less severe consequences after contracting COVID-19.
The ministry also says the COVID-19 vaccination rate is high in schools, with 90 per cent of staff in the public and private sectors considered adequately vaccinated.
Forged vaccine passports
Police are on the lookout for anyone who bought fake vaccine passports after they arrested a man from Gatineau for allegedly producing certificates in Quebec and Ontario.
The 27-year-old man is facing nine charges, including forgery and laundering proceeds of a crime.
Ottawa police say he was allegedly charging $1,400 for the paperwork.
Det. Shaun Wahbeh said the Ottawa Police Service does not know how the man allegedly made the false documents, or how many people ultimately bought them.
The investigation began last month when police got word that a man was making and selling the fake certificates.
Paid COVID tests for unvaccinated health-care workers
Some regional health boards in Montreal have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on COVID-19 tests for unvaccinated employees, according to Radio-Canada.
Since the beginning of April, a ministerial order has forced unvaccinated health-care workers to undergo three COVID-19 screening tests per week.
However, when testing isn't possible at their workplace, the employees are paid for their time as they travel to and from testing sites before or after work.
The CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal spent almost $900,000 on remunerating unvaccinated workers for their testing time between April and October, Radio-Canada reports.
The CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal paid approximately $242,000 to unvaccinated employees during the same period.
Meanwhile, the CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal told Radio-Canada that employee tests were performed at workplaces during work hours, so no additional time was paid out.
The CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal declined to provide numbers on what it paid.
As of Oct. 16, the government put an end to this practice.
"We have cut the COVID premiums that health-care workers have been entitled to so far for the unvaccinated, and halted the reimbursement of weekly testing costs," said Marjaurie Côté-Boileau, a spokesperson for the Health Ministry.
As of now, "an unvaccinated employee has to get tested outside of their working day and will not be paid for it," she said.
Deadline may be pushed back again
Premier François Legault says he's open to once again pushing back the deadline for mandatory vaccination among health-care workers.
The Quebec government initially gave health-care staff until Oct. 15 to get adequately vaccinated or else they would be suspended without pay.
That deadline has been pushed back to Nov. 15 because the province feared a staffing crisis. At the time, about 22,000 workers would have no longer been allowed to work.
On Monday, Legault, who was interviewed by several French media outlets, told 98.5 FM there could be a patchwork application of the province's vaccination mandate, with the rule applying to certain sectors or certain regions.
The premier also said it will partly depend on how successful the province is in recruiting nurses.
Mandatory procedural masks in Matapédia schools
Quebec is making wearing procedural masks mandatory in schools and private seniors' homes in the Matapédia region of the Gaspé Peninsula as the county battles rising COVID-19 cases, primarily in schools and at a local wood mill.
The new measures apply to students in elementary and secondary schools, excluding kindergarten. Pupils will have to wear procedural masks at all times when indoors, as well as in school buses and while attending after-school daycare services.
Two schools in the region, École Sainte-Ursule and École Caron, are cancelling in-person classes due to outbreaks. As of Monday, Sainte-Ursule had 27 active cases and Caron had 18. In-person attendance will resume next week.
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- Quebec postpones vaccination mandate for health-care workers to Nov. 15
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What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- 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.
- 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.
With files from Radio-Canada