1) As Quebec City public health officials launched massive screening on Saturday of the B117 variant among students, teachers, and families after a #COVID19 outbreak at a now-closed school, newly released data by neighboring Ontario show the variant spreading in the community.
2) In the chart below, Ontario Public Health has found that only 6.7% of cases involving the more contagious B117 variant arose from travel. In contrast, 80.6% of such cases were associated with outbreaks or close contact of a confirmed case.
3) This would suggest that a similar scenario is playing out in Quebec, with most variant cases having been detected in Montreal (19), but also in Abitibi-Témiscamingue (two), Laval (one) and the Eastern Townships (one). Please take a look at the chart below.
4) The Ontario data show the province further along in tracking the variants than Quebec, reporting 396 confirmed cases compared with 23 in Quebec. Ontario has also started publishing data on presumptive cases (even by region), with a total of 657 compared with 286 in Quebec.
5) But the fact that the number of presumptive cases of #COVID19 variants in Quebec rose by 21% on Saturday from the day before underscores the extent to which the B117 strain is likely gaining momentum in the province and especially in Montreal.
6) Meanwhile, Montreal posted the third daily decrease in #COVID19 cases, camouflaging, if you will, the rise of the variants in schools and other settings. Please see the chart below. Hospitalizations in the city due to the #pandemic illness dipped by 10 to 382.
7) At the neighborhood level, transmission of the #coronavirus has subsided in most areas of the city. But the north and east ends remain problematic, especially in Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, where the rate of #COVID19 infections is 390.2 per 100,000 residents. See below.
8) In a welcome sign, #COVID19 vaccination picked up speed in the metropolis, with nurses administering 3,974 first doses Friday — the highest daily number to date for Montreal. But at the current pace, Quebec may not reach its goal of vaccinating 650,000 people by March 31.
9) Another heartening trend is that the number of #COVID19 deaths is on the decline, with the province adding 14 to a death toll of 10,292. Montreal, for its part, declared seven more such fatalities for a total of 4,474. Please see the chart below.
10) Health Minister Christian Dubé tweeted on Saturday that the “variants must be prevented from spreading.” But there was no clarification by provincial authorities on plans to loosen #pandemic restrictions after the March break. End of thread. Please limit your social contacts.

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More from @Aaron_Derfel

22 Feb
1) At least four more schools in the greater Montreal region confirmed over the weekend #COVID19 cases likely arising from the B117 variant, raising the question as to the extent of the contagion of the new more transmissible strain in the community at large.
2) On Sunday night, covidecolesquebec.org reported the “circulation of a #COVID19 variant” at École de l’Équinoxe de Ste-Rose in Laval. This followed news earlier Sunday of the temporary closing of a Blainville school due to an outbreak linked to a variant.
3) The other schools include École Lévis-Sauvé in Verdun and Monseigneur Gilles-Gervais in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville on the South Shore. That’s in addition to three other Montreal schools that have reported variant #COVID19 cases last week.
Read 10 tweets
20 Feb
1) The number of cases involving #COVID19 variants now appears to be rising faster in Quebec than in Ontario, the latest tallies by the two provinces suggest. In this thread, I will examine what this means as Quebec considers easing restrictions even after the March break.
2) Since Feb. 13, Ontario has reported an increase of 82 cases of the more contagious B117 variant and three more cases of the B1351 variant. Quebec is not reporting its numbers the same way, with only 16 confirmed cases of variants.
3) However, during the same period Quebec has confirmed an increase in five cases of variants and has reported 236 presumptive cases (up by 63 from the day before), with most likely occurring in the Montreal area and involving the B117 lineage.
Read 11 tweets
19 Feb
1) In the past three days, the number of presumptive #COVID19 variants has more than doubled from 86 to 173 in Quebec, with most cases occurring in Montreal. The proliferation of the variants, most likely B117, has prompted the government to consider new measures for schools.
2) Education Minister Jean-François Roberge defended his handling of the #pandemic in schools on Thursday, asserting the government has acted with agility. Still, Roberge stopped short of going into detail about possible measures. Will he finally allow air purifiers in schools?
3) Quebec reported on Thursday that the number of #COVID19 outbreaks in schools rose by nine to 283, the only sector to observe an increase. One more school closed temporarily, but the total number of cases did decline. See the chart below.
Read 10 tweets
18 Feb
1) The Montreal public health department released its weekly report on #COVID19 outbreaks on Wednesday, reporting a dramatic drop in clusters. But behind the headline number are worrisome trends. In this thread, I will focus on the trouble spots.
2) First, the headline number: #COVID19 outbreaks in Montreal plunged by 116 to 363 on Tuesday from a week earlier. I haven’t seen such a significant decrease in months. This is likely the result of the nightly curfew and other restrictions that Quebec imposed on Jan. 9.
3) Digging deeper, one observes that #COVID19 outbreaks in hospitals and eldercare homes plunged by 109 to 65. Even more impressive is the fact the number of active cases plummeted by 2,001 to 1,608 in this sector, suggesting perhaps the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Read 10 tweets
17 Feb
1) On the same day authorities announced 86 probable cases of the more contagious #COVID19 variants in Quebec, Premier François Legault announced he will reopen movie theatres, public pools and arenas on Feb. 26. In this thread, I will examine these contradictory developments.
2) The probable cases were confirmed mostly in Montreal and likely involve the B117 variant that originated in the U.K. The results followed the screening of 925 positive samples, but Health Minister Christian Dubé warned this does not mean the probability rate is 9.3%.
3) Dubé suggested it may be 2%, which appears to be the case in Laval. But given that the B117 variant is at least 50% more transmissible than the current so-called wild type, it may be only a matter of time before the B117 strain becomes dominant in the greater Montreal region.
Read 10 tweets
16 Feb
1) Quebec reported five more cases of the super transmissible B117 variant Monday, raising the total to just 13. That compares with 303 in Ontario, 164 in Alberta and 29 in British Columbia. In this thread, I'll try to explain why Quebec is under-reporting the number of variants.
2) Clearly, Quebec authorities are behind Ontario, Alberta and less populous B.C. in sequencing the variants to determine lineage. But Quebec could add another category to its stats pending confirmation by sequencing: new figures on cases containing the N501Y mutation.
3) The three more contagious variants — B117 (which originated in Kent, England), B1351 (which appeared in South Africa) and P1 (which has swept through the state of Manaus in Brazil) — share the spike protein mutation, N501Y. Quick PRC tests can pick up cases with this mutation.
Read 12 tweets

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