Legault Asks Arruda Every Day If It's A 'Good Idea To Confine The Greater Montreal Area'
The response from Public Health has been, "for the moment, no."
Premier François Legault and National Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda are facing tough questions about the state of the outbreak in Montreal — a situation the Premier himself called "worrisome." In response to a journalist's question at Monday's COVID-19 press update, Legault admitted that "every day, including this morning, I asked Dr. Arruda: Do you think it would be a good idea to confine the Greater Montreal area?" The response from Public Health has been, "for the moment, no."
Several concerns were raised regarding Greater Montreal's deconfinement after one scenario published by the Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ) showed the possibility of 150 deaths per day by July if distancing measures are relaxed.
"Depending on current epidemiological conditions, deconfinement could lead to a rapid increase in cases and deaths" in the Montreal area, the Institute concluded.
The same study showed that the relaxation of distancing measures in the regions outside the Montreal metropolitan community (CMM) could lead only to a slight increase in the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Regarding the results of the study, Premier Legault stressed that public health "follows the science" and that his government will only proceed according to expert suggestions.
"When we look at the INSPQ forecasts, we see that if there were deconfinement, there would be a major risk of an explosion of cases and hospitalizations" in Montreal, he explained.
"This is why we made the decision that businesses, schools, daycare services will not open in the Greater Montreal area before May 25."
He has made clear on several occasions that he's willing to further push the date if the situation does not improve.
"We will follow the results, we will not take any risks. And if the situation is not under control in Montreal, we will postpone the opening of shops, schools, daycare services. We all agree with that," Legault said Monday.
While many were questioning why the government published the study's results so late on Friday afternoon, Dr. Horacio Arruda stressed that the INSPQ acts independently and publishes its results only once they're ready.
"The scenarios are a very important element in our decision-making. There are a lot of uncertainties in the scenarios depending on the models we put inside, but that gives us an idea of what it might look like," he explained.
The INSPQ stresses that "predictions must be interpreted in light of the great uncertainty surrounding social distancing behaviours upon return to work and school and self-deconfinement."
Whether or not deconfinement in Montreal will be postponed again remains to be seen.
Public health authorities are keeping a close watch on the situation, however.
Stay tuned for more news.