Cases are going up. But officials are confident they can manage the situation.
As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Europe, and restrictions are being lifted here at home, Quebecers might be starting to wonder: are we due for a sixth wave of COVID-19 infections? The answer is maybe, according to the Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé — but he's confident it will be manageable.
In a March 16 press conference, Christian Dubé said that there was a possibility of a sixth wave, but that "it's a possibility that we can manage right now." According to Dubé, we can thank Quebec's vaccination rate, the rate of infection in Quebec in December and January, and the time of year for the reduced risk posed by a potential sixth wave.
As of March 23, nearly 19 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Quebec. 91% of eligible Quebecers had received the first dose and 87% had received two doses.
Three million Quebecers caught the virus during the peak of the Omicron wave — a dark time in our collective memory, but also a time when a whole lot of survivors developed antibodies.
The time of year also affects the likelihood of a sixth wave striking. "We are the end of the seasonality," Dubé said at the March 16 conference. In previous years, the spread of the virus significantly slowed by summer. "If there is a risk" for a sixth wave, the health minister explained, that risk "could be in August or September."
When asked during a press conference on March 23 whether he's currently concerned by the possibility of a sixth wave, interim National Public Health Director Dr. Luc Boileau said officials "believe that it's normal right now to have an increase in cases."
"We don't currently fear a sixth wave, and if the question was if we fear a sixth wave of the magnitude of the one we just passed through, we don't fear that."
Dr. Boileau added that the Omicron BA.2 subvariant is well-understood and that if people continue to get vaccinated and follow recommended health measures, the sixth wave — if and when it happens — should be less intense than the fifth wave.