Montreal Health Officials Are Scrambling To Deal With Omicron's Unprecedented Surge

Montrealers who were in close contact with someone who tested positive are now asked to isolate for 10 days also.

Staff Writer
Montreal Health Officials Are Scrambling To Deal With Omicron's Unprecedented Surge

With the pandemic situation reaching a du jamais vu stage, Montreal health officials are making changes on the fly to testing protocols, contact tracing processes, hospital infrastructure and medical priorities.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Regional Director of Public Health Dr. Mylène Drouin informed the population that one in five Montrealers who get tested are receiving positive COVID-19 results, showing a positivity rate of 18-20%.

Dr. Drouin said that "Omicron is now representing more than 90 percent of all new cases" and believes the current case count is "underestimated."

Sonia Bélanger, CEO of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, said over 550 hospital beds are being reserved for COVID-19 patients in Montreal, and that number could rise to 1,000 in the coming days.

Montreal's health network will be scaling back on "non-essential" and "non-urgent" surgeries as of now in order to have more resources where they need them.

Health officials are asking Montrealers to "collaborate" with them. "If you have symptoms, [...] we ask you to wear your mask, isolate yourself and go get a test — it may be a rapid test or a test in a screening centre," the public health director requested.

If you test positive, you must isolate for 10 days — and so should all of your close contacts. Drouin defined close contacts as anyone you've been in contact with indoors and without a mask for more than 15 minutes within the 48 hours before your first symptoms or your positive test, whichever came first.

People who test positive for the virus are now being told to contact their close contacts themselves, within 48 hours of noting symptoms, and ask them to isolate for 10 days.

If the contacts are asymptomatic, they're being asked to immediately isolate and not to go get tested, due to the lack of capacity in Montreal testing centres right now. However, if they have access to an at-home rapid test, they should test themselves between days 3 and 5 of their isolation period.

Montreal health officials are also asking that people do not go to testing centres if they solely want to confirm their status before a party or gathering, or if they are symptomatic and received a positive result on a rapid test. Dr. Drouin said that a rapid test is "as valid" as a PCR test for the confirmation of a positive case.

With the critical situation in Montreal, Dr. Drouin requested that we reduce our gatherings immediately, and not wait until after the holidays when the tightened measures in all of Quebec will be imposed.

"Take care of yourself, take care of your loved ones, and thank you for your collaboration — we're all in this together," she concluded.

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

2 Quebec Restaurants That Vowed To Reopen Against Public Health Rules Are Backing Down

They received both praise and criticism for their decisions to reopen dining rooms before it was allowed.

Two Quebec restaurants that sparked a media frenzy when they announced they'd reopen despite public health rules are backing down ahead of the officially sanctioned reopening of dining rooms on January 31.

Earlier in January, Montreal Italian restaurant Kesté and Saguenay pâtisserie Vite des Péchés vowed they'd open their doors to customers seeking sit-down meals after enduring wave after wave of restrictions that they said had been damaging and, most recently, inconsistent.

Keep Reading Show less

Life Expectancy In Canada Dropped The Most Ever In 2020

National life expectancy dipped by over seven months, primarily because of COVID-19, says Statistics Canada.

COVID-19 has not only contributed to Canada's historic rise in inflation, but it has also played a major role in the decline of the nation's life expectancy. Life expectancy in Canada dropped by over seven months in 2020 — the biggest decline in the nearly 100 years since it started being recorded — with COVID-19 a significant factor, according to Statistics Canada.

The report stated that 307,205 deaths occurred in 2020, the year the pandemic began – an increase of 7.7% over 2019. This led the national life expectancy to drop from 82.3 years in 2019 to 81.7 in 2020. That's the largest annual drop since 1921, the year the statistic was first recorded in Canada.

Keep Reading Show less

Monday is going to be a good day, as Quebec COVID-19 rules are going to slowly start to loosen up again, for what feels like the millionth time.

But during a recent press conference, Premier François Legault sounded rather optimistic about the province's current situation, saying that we have finally "left the tunnel," in reference to his frequent invocation of a "light at the end of the tunnel."

Keep Reading Show less

A Canada Mental Health Survey Suggests We're Mostly A Big Puddle Of Worry & Fatigue

7% of respondents said they're "barely getting by at this point."

It's no surprise that the pandemic has had a negative impact on Canadians' mental health. The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) released the results of ongoing research on mental health in Canada throughout the pandemic, and the results are troubling.

The ARI asked Canadians to summarize how they had been feeling over the past few weeks. Of the 1,509 Canadians polled online from January 18 to 20, nearly half (48%) said that they felt "fatigued." That's more than three times the number of people who reported feeling "optimistic" (13%) or "happy" (12%). 40% of Canadians expressed feeling "frustrated," 37% felt "anxious" and 23% felt "depressed."

Keep Reading Show less