Sixth Wave | The pressure is increasing again on the health network

The sixth wave of COVID-19 is still putting the health network to the test, with hospitalizations linked to the virus now approaching the 2000 mark in Quebec. And this increase is likely to continue in the coming weeks, with cases continuing to climb among the oldest, most vulnerable.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The Press

“In the context, without any restrictions and without population screening, it is foreseeable that we will see more cases accumulate, and especially more hospitalizations. In other words, the worst of this wave hasn’t happened yet,” says Dr.r Matthew Oughton, infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital.

In his eyes, reaching a peak will indeed go through significant increases in transmission “in the coming days, even the next few weeks”. “In the meantime, we are not making any progress in the third dose. We’ve been stuck for quite a while. We really have to speed up the pace if we want to reach the peak of the wave more quickly, ”he said, also calling again on Quebec to restart PCR screening in certain population groups.

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Quebec identified Tuesday an increase of 145 hospitalizations (294 entries, 149 exits). To date, 1,938 patients remain hospitalized in connection with the virus, including 67 in intensive care (-2).

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“We are still in front of the unknown, in terms of the magnitude that this wave will have”, also affirms virologist Benoit Barbeau, professor in the department of biological sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

I think we have another week or two, at least, before reaching a plateau.

Benoit Barbeau, virologist

“Our best point of reference is Europe. And even there, not all countries are still talking about a plateau or a slowdown, ”adds the virologist.

Still on the rise among seniors

For the time being, cases continue to increase among the elderly (60 years and over), as do deaths and hospitalizations, for that matter. Quebec reports an average of 850 new cases per day among seniors, up 36% over one week. Among those under 60, infections seem to want to level off or even tend to decline.

According to Mr. Barbeau, the increase still in progress among the oldest does not bode well in the short term for the health network, as they represent 85% of people currently hospitalized. “It is certain that young people will hardly suffer the consequences of this wave, especially if they are vaccinated or infected with Omicron. But the older ones will be protected for a much shorter period. They will suffer more consequences, especially if their third dose dates from a certain time”, he summarizes.

At the Association of Emergency Medicine Specialists of Quebec, Dr.r Gilbert Boucher confirms that the network is under high pressure. “In addition to COVID, there is an incredible demand for services from the population right now,” he says.

For a week, anyone in the emergency department has been waiting for many, many hours. It is extremely difficult in our waiting rooms.

The Dr Gilbert Boucher, from the Association of Emergency Medicine Specialists of Quebec

“So many factors”

Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal (ESPUM), Roxane Borgès Da Silva has been collecting data on the number of new cases of COVID-19 for a number of weeks now, with several other researchers from the Center interuniversitaire de research in the analysis of organizations (CIRANO). She estimates that 30,000 to 40,000 Quebecers currently contract the virus per day.

“I am not surprised at the proportion of hospitalizations in this context, when we know that it always follows the number of infections. So I expect it to increase further in the health network for at least two weeks, ”she also argues.

She says that reaching a possible sixth wave peak will depend on “several factors”, including, first of all, how Quebecers will appropriate the new risk management, which is now individual given the lack of sanitary measures.


BLAIR GABLE PHOTO, REUTERS ARCHIVES

The Dregarding Theresa Tam, Chief Administrator of the Public Health Agency of Canada

On Tuesday, the chief administrator of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Dregarding Theresa Tam, confirmed that the sixth wave has officially won all of Canada. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is urging Canadians to get a third dose. The administration of this booster dose for 12 to 17 year olds has not yet obtained the green light from Health Canada, but the NACI still recommends it six months after the last vaccination for adolescents at risk.

The Dregarding Tam recommends wearing a mask for everyone, whether or not it is mandatory in the provinces. “It doesn’t matter if there’s a mask directive or not, it’s just really important to wear it,” she said. Ontario’s Director of Public Health, Dr.r Kieran Moore, had strongly recommended the day before to continue wearing the mask, which is no longer mandatory since March 21.

With the collaboration of Pierre-André Normandin and Mylène Crête, The Press

State of play

The 1,938 people hospitalized represent an increase of 31% over one week. In intensive care, the situation remains less acute, with the 67 patients representing a drop of 3% over one week. On average, there are 66 more patients every day in the network. Quebec reported 2,596 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the daily average to 3,136. The trend is thus up 9% over one week. These numbers likely reflect only a portion of total infections due to limited access to PCR testing.


On the vaccination side, the Quebec campaign continues to gain momentum. On Monday, more than 25,600 additional doses were administered. The positivity rate is 16.7%.

Henri Ouellette-Vézina and Pierre-André Normandin, The Press

Learn more

  • 60%
    Less than 60% of people aged 18 and over have received the booster dose in Canada. In Quebec, vaccination coverage varies from one age group to another. Among those 60 and older, 86% received a third dose. This proportion drops to 61% for those aged 40 to 59 and to 38% for those aged 18 to 39.

    Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

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