Quebec may be reopening but we're not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 scenarios released Wednesday by the Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ) show what could happen if we don't strictly follow social distancing rules. The INSPQ notes that, right now, the number of deaths and hospitalizations is stable or decreasing across the province.

But we could end up with a second peak as soon as July if the public only has a weak adherence to "measures in place to prevent the transmission of the virus, [such as] two-metre distancing, wearing a face-covering, washing hands, installing Plexiglas in shops, [and] isolating symptomatic people."

For the Great Montreal area, the INSPQ produced two scenarios.

One scenario outlines what its experts think could happen if "60-80% of deconfined social contacts are protected and 75-90% of symptomatic cases are isolated."

The other looks at what it could mean if "0-40% of deconfined social contacts are protected" and just "60-75% of symptomatic cases are isolated."

In the latter scenario, "low adherence" to public health rules and recommendations "could lead to an increase in hospitalizations during the month of July."

An accompanying graph shows hospitalizations in Greater Montreal increasing in June before accelerating in July.

"Strong adherence," meanwhile, "could lead to a decrease in hospitalizations based on 50% of the predictions and an increase in hospitalizations based on 50% of the predictions."

The median line on that graph shows hospitalizations gradually decreasing through summer.

The INSPQ forecasts a similar pattern for deaths in the two scenarios.

"Weak adherence could lead to an increase in deaths during the month of July."

While "strong adherence could lead to a decrease in deaths based on 50% of predictions and an increase in deaths based on 50% of predictions."

"Since the March confinement," the Institute explains, "contact has been restricted by several individual and collective protective measures to prevent transmission of the virus.

"With a gradual deconfinement, contacts resume, some protected and some unprotected, depending on the percentage of adherence to the protective measures."

The report concludes by declaring that "a return to the pre-containment level of contacts cannot be envisaged for the time being while the virus is still circulating, hence the importance of maintaining obstacles to its transmission through the implementation of individual and collective measures."

It will be up to individual Montrealers to determine the path of the pandemic this summer.


This article's cover image is used for illustrative purposes only.

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