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.
4) It’s clear that public health officials have been quicker to close schools pending screening of the variants than earlier in the second wave of the #pandemic. But authorities don’t seem to be taking the same cautious approach in other sectors.
5) Perhaps that’s because the overall numbers are trending downward. Provincially, the number of #COVID19 outbreaks plunged by 69 to 906 in the past two days. The only sector where clusters are increasing is in schools, rising by 10 to 279.
6) The prison sector, which had been hit with four #COVID19 clusters, is in a much better situation than last week. The number of cases among inmates and guards at Bordeaux prison plummeted to 29 Sunday from 92 the day before.
7) Although #COVID19 hospitalizations dipped by 14 to 686 across Quebec, the number stayed unchanged in Montreal at 382. Sacré-Coeur Hospital reported an increase of five hospitalizations to 39 and the Jewish General posted four more admissions to 51.
8) After administering a daily record of nearly 4,000 #COVID19 vaccines in Montreal on Friday, nurses gave 3,356 shots on Saturday. To date, 4.36% of Montreal’s population has been vaccinated with a first shot. Authorities still need to vaccinate another 1.5 million Montrealers.
9) The only #COVID19 category that’s not trending the right way concerns the variants. Quebec’s public health institute reported on Sunday that the number of presumptive #COVID19 variant cases climbed by 43 to 329. Please take a look at the chart below.
10) Authorities have not yet provided a breakdown for the 329 presumptive #COVID19 cases linked to variants. But it would be a fair assumption that they’re not all in schools and likely circulating in the community at large. End of thread. Please limit your social contacts.

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More from @Aaron_Derfel

23 Feb
1) On Feb. 10, Quebec’s top health officer disclosed two confirmed #COVID19 cases of the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa. On Monday, an Abitibi-Témiscamingue official revealed 40 presumptive B.1.351 cases. Why did authorities not release this information sooner? Image
2) Dr. Horacio Arruda said at the time the B.1.351 cases were associated with two “well-controlled” outbreaks. Arruda spoke more about the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the U.K. in December and that is now circulating in Montreal. But he hardly mentioned B.1.351. Why not?
3) At a Monday afternoon news conference in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, public health doctor Omobola Sobanjo disclosed that 20 presumptive B.1.351 cases came from an outbreak following a party after the holidays, and 13 from a school cluster.
Read 14 tweets
21 Feb
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.
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

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