Pair of Outaouais municipalities at risk of becoming red zones
Rise in COVID-19 cases largely attributable to outbreaks in long-term care homes
As COVID-19 cases rise in rural parts of western Quebec, authorities are warning that two of the region's municipalities could be moved into red on the province's pandemic alert scale.
The municipalities of Papineau and Vallée-de-la-Gatineau are both teetering on the upper edge of the orange zone after a recent spike in cases — and both are being closely monitored by public health officials.
The new cases are largely tied to long-term care homes and seniors' residences.
One outbreak is raging at the Pavillon de la Paix à Messines, a seniors' home located in Vallée-de-la-Gatineau. Of the approximately 40 residents at the facility, 34 had contracted the virus as of Friday.
In Papineau, an outbreak at the CHSLD la Petite-Nation, a long-term care home in the village of St-André-Avellin, Que., is also causing authorities concern. As of Friday, 25 COVID-19 cases and one death had been reported there.
No new numbers were available over the weekend.
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"We are carrying out extensive screening, both for employees and residents of the affected establishments," said Dr. Brigitte Pinard, interim director of public health at the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada.
"Depending on our analysis, we will see whether or not it is necessary to apply additional measures in the affected territories."
Chantal Lamarche, reeve for Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, said the rise in cases is largely attributable to the outbreak at the Messines-area care home.
"The increase is really targeted, so it's less of a concern," she said in French. "However, you have to be careful. I've sent a message to the population: we have to stick together to stay orange. Are we going to be successful? I don't know, but we are going to try."
According to Lamarche, the movement of people between regions and the mobility of health-care staff may be behind the outbreak.
"We have CISSSO employees who stroll from centre to centre in the Vallée-de-la-Gatineau. I think the problem is there," she said.
Concerns over economic impact of new measures
The mayor of St-André-Avellin, Jean-René Carrière, told Radio-Canada he fears the impact more restrictive measures could have for the local economy.
"If it is not necessary, it should not be done," he said.
Martin Sicard, who runs a restaurant in Gracefield, Que., said if his region moves into the red zone he'll willingly close his doors to help keep COVID-19 numbers under control.
"I don't mind closing the doors tomorrow morning and saying, 'In another month, see you again,'" he said. "We will do it because we have no choice."
With files from Radio-Canada's Jérémie Bergeron