A study published by Quebec’s national health institute (INSPQ) last Friday, warns that the easing of physical distancing measures in the City of Montreal could lead to a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths. This comes as Quebec’s construction industry reopens in the province on May 11th and elementary schools and daycare centers (only outside of the Greater Montreal Metropolitan area) also begin to reopen – after emergency measures shut them down almost two months ago.
‘According to current epidemiological conditions, ending confinement could lead to a rapid increase in cases and deaths’ the study warns. They predict that Covid-19 cases could soar up to 10,000 per day by June and deaths from the virus could rise as high as up to 150 per day by July (with computer modelling predicting in 6 out of 10 cases, deaths and hospitalizations would continue to rise – while in 4 out of 10 cases, they would plateau and then slowly start to decrease).
The INSPQ worked together with experts from McGill and Laval Universities in calculating how the epidemic could evolve in the Montreal area if the restrictions were lifted before May 25th – by assuming that social contacts could increase somewhere between 15% to 30% per cent when schools, construction sites, industries and non-essential stores reopen.
As for the rest of the province, the study also looked at the situation and came to the conclusion that it is ‘stable and not likely to deteriorate sharply as the result of the reopening of schools and businesses’. The predicted numbers do not include deaths in long-term care facilities or take into account the effect of increased testing and contract tracing. Montreal accounts for close to 63% per cent of Quebec’s deaths from COVID-19 and 51% per cent of diagnosed cases, based on the latest (May 10th) statistics from the Government of Quebec government. In his press briefing on Saturday, Prime Minster Trudeau, referring to the projections, stated that he was concerned about the situation in Montreal. “I am very worried for the citizens of Montreal, just as I’m worried for people across the country… we owe it to ourselves to base (decisions) on science,” he said. It remains to be seen if Quebec will consider the INSPQ study in its decisions.
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