Will Montreal COVID-19 Cases Surge When Measures Are Dropped? New Projections Are Out

Many rules are changing this month. And even more could be on the way.

Contributing Writer
A crowd of people wearing masks at Montreal's Jean-Talon market.

With the Omicron variant on its way out, Quebec has been seeing a further relaxation of safety measures every Monday. Notably, office workers can remove their masks while working under some conditions, and children will no longer need to wear masks in class starting on March 7. But amid all these changes, could there be another surge in Montreal COVID-19 cases?

The Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) teamed up with the Research Group in Mathematical Modeling and Health Economics of Infectious Disease at Laval University to run the numbers and make predictions. The INSPQ worked under the assumption that around one in three Montrealers were infected with COVID-19 since December 1, 2021.

The INSPQ played out two situations: one in which social contacts increase slowly (the optimistic scenario), and one in which social contacts increase quickly (the pessimistic scenario). In the optimistic scenario, the number of hospitalizations and deaths "stabilizes or continues to diminish." In the pessimistic scenario, there's another surge of new cases, but nowhere near as many cases as during the height of Omicron.

The projections led the institute to conclude that "gradual relaxation of health measures until March 14, 2022 is not expected to cause a significant increase in cases and hospitalizations in Greater Montreal."

The INSPQ's report notes that their predictions only apply if they've accurately estimated the amount of people still vulnerable to the virus. All bets are off if the vaccines lose their potency over time or if another, significantly more infectious variant pops up.

In addition to previously-announced COVID-19 rule changes through March 14, Quebec could according to reports be preparing to present a plan to end most mask rules. An announcement is expected March 2 or 3.

This article's left-hand cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Jenna Pearl
Contributing Writer
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