She described what life will look like moving forward.
It's official, folks — we've seen the worst of Omicron. Hospitalizations and deaths around the province have been in steady decline for the last few weeks and health officials are easing up on restrictions. On February 23, Dr. Mylène Drouin elaborated on what "living with the virus" is going to actually look like in the coming months.
First, there will be a lifting of certain health measures, such as the wearing of masks in elementary schools and in the workplace. While the decision to lift these measures has already been met with pushback, Drouin, Regional Director of Public Health, says that existing tools are sufficient for handling the current situation.
"We're not getting back to the same normality as we had in 2019," she pointed out in a press conference on February 23. "But of course we can reduce some measures and make sure that in different settings and as individuals we apply some recommendations that will reduce the risk of contaminating a vulnerable person that can end up in the hospital."
Existing tools, like wearing masks, getting vaccinated, and taking at-home screening tests will continue to be part of our everyday lives for the foreseeable future. Drouin specified that we are not yet at the endemic stage — meaning there's a chance that another variant could pop up sometime down the line.
"At an international level we still have conditions that can introduce new variants," Drouin said, citing low vaccination rates in Africa as a particular cause for concern. "The virus is still circulating so we know it can mutate easily. So knowing that, we can not say that we're out of the pandemic. That's why we're prudent."
But there is good news. The virus seems to spread faster during flu season, so we should expect lower COVID-19 rates and fewer restrictions during the warmer months of the year. "We've seen that there is a cyclic or seasonal pattern," Drouin said. She added that health officials will reevaluate the situation in the fall.
When asked what she would say to immunocompromised Quebecers who are feeling abandoned because they can't "live with the virus," Drouin repeated that masks, screening tests, and antiviral medication are available.
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