"The question I've heard the most in the last few weeks: What's coming for the holidays? [...] Given the increase in cases, I understand we do not want to do what we did last year and be forced to backtrack, so we will give ourselves a little more time to see how the situation goes," Premier Legault said at a press conference on November 23. "We are confident that we should be able to increase the number of people in homes."
On annonce, aujourd\u2019hui, les modalit\u00e9s de la vaccination pour les 5 \u00e0 11 ans. \n\nPour tous les d\u00e9tails, suivez notre point de presse en directhttps://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1YqxopzapOvKv\u00a0\u2026
In 2020, the provincial government announced that holiday gatherings would be allowed between December 24 to 27, but later changed its mind and cancelled Christmas gatherings due to the spread of the virus.
With that in mind, it's no surprise public health has decided to wait and continue to study the situation before recommending changes to health measures.
It's also no surprise that Premier Legault's hopeful holiday news came with a word of warning.
"Please, by Christmas, can we respect the instructions? [...] If we don't respect the basic rules by Christmas, we won't help ourselves so that we can relax these measures during the holiday season," he said.
Currently, a maximum of 10 people from different addresses or the occupants of three households are allowed to gather privately in homes throughout Quebec. This number goes up to 20 for outdoor gatherings on private property.
This article’s right-hand cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
With concerns about the Omicron variant abound, the Institut national de santé publique de Québec (INSPQ) said Tuesday that there was no evidence of community transmission of the variant in the province.
The federal government was quick to react to the emergence of Omicron, banning foreign nationals from entering Canada if they've been to Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa or Zimbabwe within 14 days prior to their arrival.
Canadian citizens, permanent residents and those who have status under the Indian Act who are travelling from these countries, meanwhile, are subject to "enhanced pre-entry and arrival testing, screening, and quarantine measures," according to the government.
In addition, Canada is rolling out on-arrival testing for all air travellers coming from places other than the United States. Fully-vaccinated travellers have to quarantine until they receive a negative test result.
The INSPQ said that all travellers entering Quebec who test positive for COVID-19 will undergo screening for Omicron.
On November 29, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said that officials are studying the variant to determine if it's more contagious or resistant to vaccines.
In an interview with MTL Blog, Université de Montréal professor and research director Dr. Janusz Kaczorowski said that for Quebecers "the best advice is to be cautious and continue with the current public health measures and vaccination campaigns to prevent spread and impact of Omicron."
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
Apparently, Quebec residents are getting busy making babies — or at least busier than they were in 2020. According to new data from the Institut de la Statistique du Québec, Quebec's population growth picked up in 2021 after a slowdown the year before. Though it's not all due to baby-making.
As of July 1, 2021, Quebec counted 8,604,500 inhabitants. That's 25,100 more than at the beginning of the year, the Institut says.
According to the stats, this six-month population increase "is higher than that recorded for the whole of 2020." It's still about only half of what the Institut de la Statistique recorded in the same time period between 2017 and 2019, however.
The slowdown in 2020 can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institut says, with much less migration into Quebec due to border restrictions and a sharp increase in the number of deaths compared to previous years.
25,200 immigrants settled in the province in 2020. That's 15,400 fewer than in 2019.
Quebec also gained just 14,000 people due to migration in 2020 — that's compared to 93,500 people in 2019, the Institut reports.
And it estimates that during the first 10 months of the pandemic, deaths in Quebec were "9% higher than what we would have expected in normal times."
2021 has brought better news.
In addition to an uptick in migration and immigration, there's been a noted, yet slight increase in the number of recorded births in the province since the end of 2020. While Quebec saw a 3% drop in the number of births in 2020, 2021 numbers are "expected to resemble the average for previous years," according to the Institut.
So keep having those babies, folks. The future of Quebec is in your hands (not really).
The Institut national de santé publique de Québec (INSPQ) says that despite some serious concerns about the Omicron variant in Quebec, a recent survey, which the INSPQ called a "snapshot" of the situation in Quebec, didn't reveal any community spread in the province yet.
The CDC defines community spread as a situation in which "people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected."
#COVID19 Pour l\u2019instant, un seul cas du variant #Omicron issu d'un voyageur a \u00e9t\u00e9 confirm\u00e9 au Qu\u00e9bec. Une enqu\u00eate men\u00e9e par l\u2019INSPQ ne semble pas r\u00e9v\u00e9ler de transmission communautaire de ce variant dans la province.https://www.inspq.qc.ca/nouvelles/l-institut-national-sante-publique-du-quebec-surveille-variant-omicron\u00a0\u2026
The INSPQ says its laboratory, the LSPQ, "has rapidly deployed surveillance for the Omicron variant," including a "one-time survey" of positive COVID-19 infections on November 30 to determine the number of Omicron cases.
"Of the 1,174 SARS-CoV-2 positive samples screened, the LSPQ received and screened 894 samples. Of these, no Omicron variants were detected," the INSPQ said.
The INSPQ therefore concluded that so far, Omicron infections appear to be limited to cases involving travellers.
While officials have confirmed only one case of Omicron in Quebec, two Omicron-positive individuals in Ottawa entered the country by way of Montreal, according to Ontario's chief medical officer, Dr. Kieran Moore.
The INSPQ says that travellers returning to Quebec from outside Canada who test positive for COVID-19 will also be screened for the Omicron variant.
The results of the INSPQ study on the Omicron variant come as the province moves to alter health rules for the holidays, allowing up to 20 vaccinated people to gather in a private residence as of December 23.
Despite the rule relaxation, Health Minister Christian Dubé still called on Quebecers to limit their contacts.
"We count on Quebecers to be responsible and on their judgement, as we have done from the start to continue to respect health measures," he said.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
The majority of eligible Quebecers have already received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine this year. Now, Health Minister Christian Dubé has announced at a press conference that eligibility for the third dose is being expanded to a larger percentage of the population.