As Quebecers prepare to gather for Easter or Passover, the province is dealing with a double whammy of rising COVID-19 infections and an unseasonal wave of influenza, the interim public health director said on Wednesday.
Dr. Luc Boileau told reporters that flu season has begun in the province, making it difficult for people to tell whether they have contracted COVID-19 or influenza, given the fact that both symptoms can be normal.
“It is unusual to have a flu season starting in April,” he said.
“It’s already present in the community, it’s also present in our hospitals and they’re already feeling the impact.”
In any event, Quebecers with flu or COVID-19 symptoms – usually a sore throat and hoarse voice – should self-isolate and especially stay away from people who are vulnerable to both diseases. more likely, Boileau said.
According to data from Quebec’s Institute of Public Health (INSPQ), the positivity rate for influenza has increased from just one percent to nearly seven percent in the past three weeks.
The flu season is beginning with a sharp increase in the number of hospitalizations in the province related to COVID-19.
On Wednesday, the province reported a total of 2,060 coronavirus patients in hospital – the first time hospitalizations have exceeded 2,000 since mid-February. Boileau estimates that about 45 percent of those patients were admitted because of complications from the virus, while others were diagnosed after seeking care for a variety of reasons.
With a long holiday weekend in sight, many Quebecers are considering bigger get-togethers.
Health officials say they will not impose limits on gatherings like last year, but Boileau encouraged Quebecers to “manage their risk”.
“We’re actually in the process of [developing] A habit we can use to make sure we can manage our circumstances on our own.”
Dr. Jean Longtin, a microbiologist at the province’s health ministry, said the spread of influenza began several weeks ago in Europe, and is posing a challenge to health care workers there, even if sick people are hospitalized. less likely to happen.
“Influenza in Europe is causing a lot of medical consultations, which somewhat stops [health-care] system that is already fragile.”
latest estimate from National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESSS) suggests that the number of hospitalizations in the next two weeks could exceed 2,300.
The institute expects the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care – 83 according to Wednesday’s provincial update – to remain mostly stable during that time.
“The [health] The network is under pressure right now,” Boileau said, before adding that he believes the tools are there to keep it from breaking.
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Novavax vaccine arrives in Quebec
Daniel Pare, the person overseeing the province’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, said the Novavax vaccine against COVID-19, which was approved by Health Canada about two months ago, has arrived in the province and can be administered .
Pare said more than 7,500 doses have been distributed in Quebec so far, with more than 200,000 more to be supplied in the coming weeks.
In Quebec, the vaccine will be used for the first and second doses.
The vaccine is an option for adults who either refuse to take available mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna, or cannot receive them for medical reasons.
For now, Quebecers are not able to book an appointment to receive the Novavax vaccine. Instead, it will be available only at drop-in clinics.
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