If you get COVID-19, stay away from Christmas parties, Quebec public health director urges
Mix of children and elderly people at gatherings can be dangerous, Boileau says
With ten days to go before Christmas Eve, Quebec's public health director is urging people to stay away from holiday gatherings if they test positive for COVID-19 as of today.
Quebecers are gearing up for a holiday season without strict public health rules for the first time in three years. At this time last year, the Omicron variant was rapidly spreading, prompting the government to limit indoor gatherings before eventually imposing a curfew on New Year's Eve.
Last week, Dr. Luc Boileau said people should go back into habits they had at the height of the pandemic, such as wearing masks in crowded spaces.
During a news conference on Wednesday, the public health director said people who test positive for COVID-19 should stay away from gatherings due to the fact that they are able to infect others for a period of ten days.
"Anyone who gets COVID-19 today will be contagious until Christmas Eve," Boileau said. "So if you have COVID today, don't go to the Christmas Eve [party]. If you get COVID tomorrow, then don't go partying on Christmas [day]."
The province is dealing with what Boileau has dubbed as a "cocktail" of viruses — COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza, also known as the flu. The spread of viruses has increased the strain on emergency rooms across Quebec.
Boileau said the number of RSV cases is going down, but added that the spread of COVID-19 appears to be growing.
The latest data from the province show that 2,081 people are in hospital with the disease, the highest total in nearly two months. Quebec's health ministry says 698 of those patients were admitted because of COVID-19.
Boileau said people should also stay home and avoid gatherings if they have flu-like symptoms, though the ten-day approach applies specifically to the COVID-19.
"We're mixing generations. You'll have children, adults, people that are older. You can even have great grandchildren with great grandparents," he said, adding that one person with mild symptoms could infect someone who will then have serious complications.
"There's nothing better for a virus. That is its dream situation."
With files from The Canadian Press