It has been nearly two years — and a long ride — since the city's first recorded case.
During a February 23 news conference, two top Montreal public health officials announced that the worst of the Omicron variant wave is now behind us, in what felt like a COVID-19 closing ceremony.
Dr. Mylène Drouin, Montreal's regional director of public health, and Sonia Bélanger, who heads the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'île-de-Montréal, both offered their thanks to health care workers and said they hoped this would be their final news conference about the pandemic.
Drouin observed that Montreal will be entering a transition phase now that cases, hospitalizations and outbreaks throughout Montreal have seen five weeks of downward movement.
The news comes shortly after the Ministry of Health announced that masks will no longer be required in Quebec elementary and high school classrooms. (However, the mask mandate remains in place for all other common areas.)
"Masks are still a measure that is effective to reduce transmission," Drouin said. "We still think it is an appropriate measure to maintain at this time."
Drouin stated that Montreal will be entering a new period in which we will be "living with the virus" — although she acknowledged that living with the virus has different meanings for different people.
"Not everyone is comfortable or at the same pace with the reduction in measures," Drouin stated. "So respect how people are facing this transition phase."
When it comes to the changes moving forward, Bélanger said the Palais des Congrès vaccination center will officially be closing as of February 24.
The director of the south-central Montreal CIUSSS stated that the "health network is doing better" and introduced a new service that will be available throughout every CIUSSS.
"The CIUSSS are working to put in place a ticket service for people who don't have a family doctor," Belanger said.
Belanger said that Montrealers will be able to access a unique number that allows them to seek medical services within a 48-hour window from a nurse or doctor based on their immediate needs.
Although Montreal is moving in a positive direction, as Drouin stated, she made it clear that "we're not getting back to the same normality as we had in 2019."
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