A wave of COVID-19 that goes unreported

A wave of COVID-19 that goes unreported

The COVID-19 virus is affecting summer camps, day care centers and festivals. Silently, it infects more Quebecers every day under the sun of a summer that seems to have returned to normal.

The Just for Laughs festival thought of relaunching its programming in a big way this summer with its musical Ana. But the nightmare of the pandemic decided otherwise. The coronavirus entered the scene just before the media premiere. Everything has been postponed.

Postponements of shows at festivals and concert halls are piling up these days, but it is difficult to estimate the extent of this wave of cancellations.

“This summer wave is very strange,” says David Laferrière, president of the board of directors of the Professional Association of Show Hosts (RIDEAU). No one wants to endanger viewers or their employees, but no one wants to lose “the super-fragile bond of trust we have with the public,” he stresses. This results in cancellations or postponements of shows announced with total discretion.

Especially since, without imposed sanitary measures, pandemic fatigue can be read on faces. David Laferriere estimates that barely one viewer in twenty wears a mask indoors. “He shows that we are not ready to live with it. »

But the rising tide is very real. The number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 has been growing for three weeks. No less than 147 additional hospitalizations and 20 deaths were recorded on Monday. The latest report published by the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) reports a positivity rate of 13.8%. Quebec reported Tuesday that 6,659 health network workers were absent due to COVID-19, up from 6,285 last Wednesday.

Quebec has stopped counting infections, but the significant increase in cases is putting everyone under pressure. “It can be a technician, a musician. In a theater, a single employee who is a contact case, that worries us to death. If there was a transmission, even a limited one, in a context of labor shortage, that would put us in a big problem”, says David Laferrière.

“It is not anecdotal, but it is not a movement either”, observes Martin Roy, president and executive director of REMI, the Association of major international events. Cases “here and there” leave gaps in the schedule and add to the headache of a busy schedule. “In the context of a festival, it is more complicated to replace an artist who isolates himself for five or ten days. »

These silent contaminations are “like other sectors”, he points out.

PCR tests in the camps?

The presence of the virus is also being felt in Quebec vacation camps. Three temporarily closed their doors and sent the children home because it was not possible to replace the entertainers placed in isolation.

“Often, we are able to contain the outbreak, but it is not possible to replace the animators”, mentions Anne-Frédérique Morin, deputy general director of the Association des camps du Québec (ACQ), who adds that the current labor context the shortage doesn’t help. She insists that the ACQ wants to “act at the beginning of the summer so as not to impact the next few weeks”, and it is in this spirit that the association met with the team of the national director of public health of Quebec, the Dr Boileau, Tuesday afternoon.

Public Health is considering several options, such as reintroducing the PCR tests that are carried out on arrival at the summer camp, as was done last year. It also plans to increase the offering of rapid tests, modify the decision tree for case management, provide regional public health support to camps, and enforce the return of mask wearing in certain contexts, especially for facilitators.

“We want to make sure that the measures are strict enough to prevent the virus from entering the camps,” says Anne-Frédérique Morin. The ACQ is not in a position to say the number of outbreaks in the camps, but is actively building a portrait of the COVID-19 situation with its members, including certain elements “relevant to the general population”. It will then be broadcast.

According to the MSSS, settings such as summer camps are not affected more than others, but “reflect the increase in community transmission that we see everywhere,” says Marie-Claude Lacasse, coordinator of media relations.

No “significant” increase

During a press conference Tuesday on another topic, François Legault said that Public Health did not expect an increase in the number of cases that could cause problems in hospitals, helping the beautiful season.

However, the Prime Minister called on the population to be careful. “We are making sure that we are ready for September, because when the school year starts we should see a significant increase in cases,” he said, referring to the vaccination campaign that will begin in August.

It is necessary to inform the population of the level of transmission of COVID-19 in order to live better with the virus, argues Nathalie Grandvaux, a researcher at the CHUM research center on viral respiratory infections. “You have to provide information so that people can adapt their precautionary measures according to the level of risk,” she says.

Last week, the national director of public health, the Dr Luc Boileau invited people at risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19 to “take back the mask” in crowded places, such as festivals.

Most of Quebec’s major festivals are already sold out.

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