1) In the starkest assessment yet, a deputy Quebec health minister warned Monday of the pandemic’s long-lasting impact not just on #COVID19 patients but on those suffering from cancer. In this thread, I will try to explain the deadly indirect damage the #coronavirus is causing.
2) Because of the worsening #pandemic, the number of elective surgeries in the province has jumped to at least 140,000. Even that number, though, doesn’t tell the full story. Kidney transplants from living donors have been suspended, and some people cannot get a colonoscopy.
3) The ramp down in clinical activities during the #pandemic’s first wave last spring resulted in at least 5,000 fewer cancer diagnoses than the normal volume. That means thousands of Quebecers are walking around with cancers that would otherwise have been detected earlier.
4) It all boils down to two things: a dramatic rise in #COVID19 hospitalizations and the absences of 8,000 health care workers due to the #pandemic. “The issue of a lack of staffing is huge,” Dr. Lucie Opatrny told reporters. “That’s the underpinning, crucial matter.”
5) On Monday, Quebec posted a total of 1,435 #COVID19 hospitalizations, up by 56 from the day before. ICU stays rose by eight to 211. The number of such hospitalizations in the Montreal region has surged from 472 on Dec. 11 to 1,071 on Sunday.
6) “The impact are enormous and will be felt for several months or even years, because of the delays that have accumulated in the waiting lists,” Opatrny stated in arguably the most candid public assessment of the #pandemic to date by a health official in Quebec.
7) Meanwhile, there were some tentative signs of a possible plateauing in #COVID19 cases. But I caution that a similar pattern has occurred many times before, only for the numbers to ramp up again. Montreal posted 750 #COVID19 cases Monday, down from 1,071 the day before.
8) At the neighborhood level, the borough of Saint-Léonard — which has observed a #COVID19 positivity rate of 20.9% — recorded 1010 cases Sunda, a sign the #coronavirus is still circulating in high numbers even after the tighter lockdown that kicked off on Dec. 17.
9) Despite the curfew announced Saturday, Montreal’s hospital emergency rooms were still busy Monday night. “Last night during the curfew, we had four COVID patients in a row come in by ambulance,” a Montreal ER nurse told me. See the chart below.
10) Despite these grim numbers, Premier François Legault defended his decision to reopen elementary schools Monday, saying he took a “calculated risk.” He’s betting that reopened schools won’t lead to more community transmission. That didn’t happen last fall. End of thread.
Addendum: Typos in Tweet #8. I mean 101 cases. Also, I misspelled Sunday. My apologies.

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More from @Aaron_Derfel

10 Jan
1) Since Dec. 16, the day before Quebec schools closed due to the #COVID19 resurgence, the number of active cases among students and staff stood at 5,156. Since then, that number has plummeted to 487. In this thread, I'll focus on the risks involved with Monday's return to class. Image
2) Authorities have acknowledged that closing schools has led to a drop in #COVID19 cases among elementary and high school students. Yet unlike southern Ontario, which will keep its schools closed until Jan. 28, elementary school students here will have to return to class Monday.
3) The fact that Grades 5 and 6 students will now have to wear masks in class all day long suggests Quebec authorities acknowledge that overcrowded and poorly ventilated schools can cause transmission of the #coronavirus. Yet there are no plans for portable air purifiers.
Read 10 tweets
9 Jan
1) Montreal on Saturday shattered a #pandemic record, posting 1,531 (!) #COVID19 cases. This marks the third time this week the metropolis has reported daily totals above 1,100. In this thread, I will try to shed light on the sharply deteriorating situation in the city. Image
2) The city’s seven-day rolling average has soared to 50.64 #COVID19 cases per 100,000 residents. That’s double the threshold set by Harvard University’s health experts to require stay-at-home orders. Instead, the city remains open, except for an 8 p.m. curfew, starting tonight. Image
3) Montreal’s latest resurgence is by far greater than other regions in the province. Montreal also posted 461 more #COVID19 cases than the more populous city of Toronto. The spike in Montreal is reflected in the fact the positivity rate in one borough, Saint-Léonard, is 20.9%.
Read 9 tweets
9 Jan
1) A Quebec public health advisor suggested Friday installing portable air purifiers in schools might produce the opposite effect, inadvertently causing the #coronavirus to spread in the air among students. In this thread, I will fact-check this assertion by Dr. Richard Massé.
2) This is what Dr. Massé had to say on the subject: “The committee also found that if they’re not installed properly they can create air movement that promotes the transmission of aerosols.” Upon what scientific basis did the committee reach this decision?
3) The answer to that question can be found in the scientific references listed in the back of the study by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec. The INSPQ cited a South Korean study which warns the “installation of air purifiers may cause new problems.”
Read 11 tweets
8 Jan
1) In the past two days, #COVID19 outbreaks in the workplace have jumped by 70 across Quebec, raising questions about the government’s decision to spare the manufacturing industry from its latest lockdown announcement. In this thread, I will re-examine the government's decision.
2) On Nov. 21, the government reported a total of 64 outbreaks in manufacturing, 53 in stores and 26 in construction. In the last update on workplace outbreaks on Dec. 23, the government disclosed that #COVID19 clusters in manufacturing nearly tripled to 187.
3) Outbreaks in stores nearly tripled, too, with a total of 151, according to the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ). And #COVID19 clusters in construction nearly doubled to 60. Yet the Premier has exempted manufacturing and construction from the new lockdown.
Read 10 tweets
7 Jan
1) Since last week, the #COVID19 positivity rate in the Montreal borough of Saint-Léonard has jumped to 20.9% (!) from 18.1%, underscoring how the #coronavirus is running rampant in the city. Will the four-week curfew announced Wednesday succeed in breaking this second wave?
2) Before answering that question, it’s worth focusing on the rising #COVID19 hospitalizations in Montreal and across the province. At the McGill University Health Centre (see the chart below), the number of such hospitalizations has been surging in an almost vertical line.
3) Quebec-wide, intensive-care stays due to #COVID19 are fast approaching the peak of the first wave, with a total of 202 disclosed on Wednesday. (The record stands at 222 on May 6). This is in addition to all the other non-COVID patients who are in ICUs. See the chart below.
Read 10 tweets
6 Jan
1) On the eve of Quebec’s announcement of a total lockdown for at least three weeks, the province posted a staggering single-day increase of 31 #COVID19 outbreaks in health-care institutions. In this thread, I will focus on what the lockdown will mean for these facilities.
2) In the short-term at least, it’s doubtful the lockdown will ease the tremendous pressure that hospitals and long-term care centres are under, with #COVID19 outbreaks flaring up, workers getting sick and hospitalizations rising.
3) In the first wave, Premier François Legault announced a lockdown on March 13, and waited nearly three months to declare the lifting of restrictions in Montreal. The big question is whether a lockdown of three to four weeks will be sufficient this time around.
Read 10 tweets

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