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Public health concerned about mask-free gatherings on Thanksgiving Day

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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The majority of people currently living with COVID-19 and in isolation (63% of cases) are in Kamouraska RCM, or 36 active cases out of 59. On the eve of the long Thanksgiving holiday, the Bas-Saint-Laurent Department of Health expects to hold several Family gatherings, as the area has seen an increase of 56 people with coronavirus in the past week.

One driver of this community transmission is an outbreak at the École des Vents-et-Marées in Rivière-Ouelle, where 17 cases out of 59 students have been reported, as well as being the cause of secondary cases. Bas-Saint-Laurent’s director of public health, Dr. Sylvain Leduc, confirmed that screening and screening tests are continuing. It is not impossible that more cases will appear in the coming days.

Teaching went to default until October 11 inclusive for this institution, assures the Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup School Services Center. COVID-19 cases have also been identified in Saint-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska and Notre-Dame de Mont-Carmel primary schools, without closing classes.

“What we do know is that we have been able to narrow it down quickly. The virus is highly contagious and people who are infected with it don’t always just stay in Rivière-Oil, they roam the area, so there is still activity,” Dr. Leduc adds. He points out that in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, procedural mask-wearing in class is not mandatory, which explains the rapid transmission of the virus. Students have not attended bubble class since the beginning of the school year.

“The picture in our region is similar in all respects to the situation prevailing everywhere in Quebec. COVID-19 mainly affects people who are not immunized. Sometimes the transmission is to people who have been vaccinated, but they are less sick and do not need to be hospitalized. They are not vaccinated. Young people are under 12, so we are not surprised,” says the director of public health at Bas Saint Laurent. At this time, none of the children from the Rivière-Ouelle outbreak have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Three hospitalizations are currently taking place in Rimouski.

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The vast majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Quebec have not been fully vaccinated. Dr. Leduc confirms that Bas-Saint-Laurent’s high vaccination rate (87% with two doses) prevented many outbreaks this summer. When public health teams conducted epidemiological surveys and raised concerns for doubly vaccinated people, “it didn’t catch fire,” says Dr. Leduc.

“We had a quiet summer that lasted until very late in September. We are not surprised by this increase in cases because there is an increase in transmission in the neighboring Chaudière-Appalaches.”

Long vacation to give thanks

The Bas-Saint-Laurent Department of Public Health states that gatherings in private residences are limited to a maximum of 10 people from different addresses or from three different homes. “In the case of gatherings in restaurants, hotels and squares, I am less concerned because those who participate must provide proof of vaccination and wear a mask to reach them. My concern is gatherings of about fifty people without a “maskless” vaccination control, and this represents a risk. Adds Dr. Sylvan Leduc: “We give permissions under controlled conditions.”

The latter believes there are currently more COVID-19 cases in Bas-Saint-Laurent than public health has declared. Not all infected people are tested at the onset of their symptoms, or go to a testing center. According to Dr. Leduc, this behavior goes hand in hand with an anti-vaccination attitude. These people are a danger to loved ones. They are not isolating themselves and continue to see their families. When we act this way, we risk injuring the people we love.”

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According to the Bas-Saint-Laurent Department of Public Health, a screening test is recommended as soon as you develop symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, loss of smell, headache and difficulty breathing. All information regarding vaccination against COVID-19 is available at Bas-Saint-Laurent by following this link:

Bas Saint Laurent’s Director of Public Health, Dr. Sylvain Leduc. – Photo: here Radio Canada Bass Saint Laurent

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