Hospitalizations in Quebec for COVID-19 increase as new variants gain ground

MONTREAL — Quebec is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations attributed to new Omicron subvariants that account for about 75% of infections, the province’s director of public health said Wednesday. dr.

MONTREAL — Quebec is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations attributed to new Omicron subvariants that account for about 75% of infections, the province’s director of public health said Wednesday.

Dr. Luc Boileau said subvariants, such as BA2.12.1, BA.5 and BA.4, appear to be more transmissible than previous strains, but not necessarily more severe. The increase in cases was “expected”, although it came sooner than authorities thought, he said, adding that the number of new infections is expected to continue to rise in the days or weeks. to come before going down.

Boileau said the province does not plan to reimpose broad public health restrictions, but he recommended those over 65 or medically vulnerable take precautions such as wearing a mask. He was firm in his advice against a new province-wide masking order, insisting that such a measure was not “realistic” or necessary at this stage.

“We are not at all on track to reimpose population-level measures such as mask-wearing, or other measures that needed to be taken in the past two years,” he said.

“We’re not there, and we’re not going in that direction with the current variants.”

He said people over 60, immunocompromised or with chronic conditions should request a second booster shot if they haven’t had one or if it’s been more than three months since their last shot. Additionally, he said those who want to wear masks should be “encouraged” to do so, especially in crowded places.

His update came as hospitalizations for COVID-19 rose by 34 in the previous 24 hours, following an increase of 113 patients the previous day. There were 1,260 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Quebec, including 35 in intensive care. Health officials have also reported four other deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Don Vinh of the McGill University Health Center says Quebec is facing a “perfect storm” of factors, including the emergence of new variants, waning immunity due to vaccination or previous infection, and the removal of public health restrictions.

The new Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, he said in an interview on Tuesday, appear to be gaining traction and finding vulnerable people to infect, especially as the mutations appear to be better able to escape immunity than previous strains.

“You put the two together, new variants and waning immunity to infection, vaccination or a hybrid, and what happens is you have a renewed pool of susceptible people with an emerging variant,” did he declare.

The rise in hospitalizations, he added, comes at a time when the healthcare system is least prepared to deal with it.

Hospital workers at ‘all levels’ are overwhelmed, he said, from paramedics and EMTs to emergency room staff and community and home care workers who have to be there to care for people. frail people leaving the hospital.

COVID-19 is also putting increased strain on the system by forcing sick healthcare workers to stay home when they need it most, he said. “This is a catastrophic systemic failure unmasked and possibly even exacerbated by unmitigated community transmission.”

On Wednesday, Boileau expressed concern about the impact the increase in cases will have on the system, adding that authorities were working with hospitals to readjust services if necessary. He said, however, he did not expect the further increase in cases to become “very, very high” and that the numbers should start to come down in the coming weeks.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 29, 2022.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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