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?
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.
4) The school, Notre-Dame-de-Fatima, will stay closed until Feb. 24. The B.1.351 variant is not only more transmissible than strains that circulated in the fall, but #COVID19 vaccines have been shown to be less effective against it. That’s important for the public to know.
5) Public health officials in Abitibi-Témiscamingue have been tracking the two outbreaks for days now. Why did they decide to disclose these stats only on Monday when they must have been aware of some of the presumptive B.1.351 cases earlier?
6) Why didn’t Arruda disclose any of this earlier? Why hasn’t Health Minister Christian Dubé discussed the suspected contagion of B.1.351 in Abitibi-Témiscamingue? Surely the public has a right to this information, given the more transmissible nature of the variants.
7) The revelation of the much higher number of presumptive B.1.351 cases comes days after the disclosure of a public health recommendation by Arruda on Oct. 22 to implement half classes in schools — a measure that was never followed and only made public belatedly.
8) With at least Quebec 10 schools closing temporarily because of the #COVID19 variants, the government must be more transparent than ever with the public. Otherwise, some people may be lulled into a false sense of security amid declining cases of the old #pandemic.
9) Meanwhile, the new #pandemic — consisting of the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants — is beginning to rise sharply both in Quebec and Ontario, more so in Ontario. The positivity rate of presumptive #COVID19 variants in Ontario has surged by 50% in just the past three days.
10) As for Quebec, the province on Monday reported a total of 415 #COVID19 cases presumed to be from one of the variants, up by 86 from the day before. This is happening with schools and stores still open and Montreal emergency rooms packed. End of thread.
Addendum: The following charts could not fit into tonight’s thread. Please review the chart below of Montreal #COVID19 cases ramping up to 416 from the day before.
Addendum 2: Quebec’s #COVID19 death toll rose by 11 to 10,318 on Monday. Below is a chart of Montreal’s pandemic deaths, which have climbed to 4,483.
Addendum 3: On Friday, the number of schools that closed due to #COVID19 jumped to 12 from eight the day before. See the chart below. It will be interesting to look at the numbers the Quebec Education Ministry releases Tuesday reflecting the weekend’s announcements by schools.
Addendum 4: People ask me all the time why I focus on the emergency room numbers. It's to emphasize that ER overcrowding is never acceptable. It was not acceptable before the #pandemic, and it's certainly not acceptable now, with the #variants around. See the chart below.

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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
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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