• On Wednesday, National Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda said the virus could continue to reappear so long as there is no vaccine.
  • But he was unequivocal about the need to move forward with deconfinement.

At the daily government update Wednesday, National Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda provided some insight into the possible course of the COVID-19 outbreak. He explained that "it's possible that we'll be talking about coronavirus in 2021, unfortunately, or even until 2022." Though he admitted he's wary of projections given the unpredictability of the virus, he said it "will probably come back," perhaps with varying intensity over the course of the year, "as long as we don't have a vaccine."

"I'd love to tell you that on June 24 we're all going to be on the Plains celebrating together, but I think that's a scenario that's not very realistic."

But he was unequivocal about the need to move forward with deconfinement — a process Premier Legault said would be "gradual" and prioritize public health.

"We cannot keep a society locked up like this," the doctor declared.

Officials' strategy will be to "gradually deconfine, then intervene, evaluate."

"If we ever realize that, in a sector of activity or a certain type of workplace, there is a transmission of cases, we still have to do what we did, look for cases, look for contacts, isolate them and make interventions."

The government will provide more details of its deconfinement plan next week, Legault promised Wednesday.

Schools will also open gradually, but attendance will be optional, he said, so parents "won't be forced to send their children" back before the summer break.

But though Legault called the situation "stable" for most regions of the province, the outbreak continues to pose risks on the islands of Montreal and Laval.

"When we look at deaths, for example, since the beginning, 74% of deaths have been either on the island of Montreal or in Laval."

He suggested that the government's reopening plan could first target those regions beyond the islands.

In all cases, "the idea [is] to go a little bit at a time, to make sure as we go along that we don't see a new wave, that we don't see the curve of the contagion starting up again."

Allowing time for businesses to ready themselves and institute appropriate measures will also be key.

"Obviously, by announcing a plan in advance, it will allow the managers of the various companies [...] to implement the directives that will be proposed by Public Health."

"But I just want to tell you that, if the numbers continue to hold up well, especially outside the Island of Montreal and Laval, we should be able to announce some good news next week, both for schools and for businesses."

Stay tuned.

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