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