Aaron Derfel Profile picture
I'm a health-care journalist based in Montreal.
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1 May
1) Quebec on Friday reported five more cases of the feared P.1 variant, including a single case for the first time in the Capitale-Nationale region. In this thread, I will provide an update on the more transmissible variants circulating in the province.
2) The P.1 variant has been responsible for the massive third wave in Brazil that has caused tens of thousands of #COVID19 deaths. But to date, Quebec has reported 30 confirmed cases of P.1. That compares with 645 in Ontario, 944 in Alberta and 2,063 in British Columbia.
3) The predominant variant by far in Quebec is B.1.1.7. Quebec’s public health institute reported 364 more sequenced cases of B.1.1.7., which was first detected in the U.K. Montreal continues to post the highest number of B.1.1.7 cases in the province.
Read 9 tweets
30 Apr
1) Even as Quebec has made laudable progress in reducing the number of #COVID19 hospitalizations while ramping up vaccinations, hot spots remain — a warning that the #pandemic will probably continue here for months to come. In this thread, I will examine some of those hot spots.
2) As of Wednesday, 35% of Quebec’s population had been partially inoculated and 3.69% had received the second dose. Federal guidelines recommend vaccine coverage of 75% with one dose and 20% with two doses to achieve collective immunity.
3) Among the potential #COVID19 hot spots are hospitals and eldercare homes. Emergency-room workers at St. Mary’s Hospital received their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine in January, and 18 still got infected in an outbreak. montrealgazette.com/news/local-new…
Read 10 tweets
29 Apr
1) In my Twitter thread yesterday, I wrote about how Montreal has continued to defy the odds in the third wave. But that doesn’t mean the #pandemic is over in the city — far from it. In this thread, I will highlight some lingering problems.
2) First, the number of #COVID19 outbreaks in the city inched up by four to 281 since last week. What’s more, the majority involve the more transmissible variants. Still, the head of the Montreal public health department cautioned that the clusters are small. See the chart below. Image
3) And although #COVID19 outbreaks decreased in the workplace in Montreal since a week ago, they increased in grocery stores. Clusters also went up in both health-care institutions and schools, likely fueled by the variants. Please take a look at the chart below. Image
Read 10 tweets
25 Apr
1) At least one in four Montrealers who's received a first vaccine dose has by now built up enough immunity to not only fend off a #COVID19 infection, but to limit the spread of the virus in the city. In this thread, I'll explore the subject of vaccine coverage in the metropolis.
2) As of April 10, two weeks ago, 25.94% of Montreal’s population had received one #COVID19 vaccine dose. That means that the more than 15,000 people who got vaccinated on that date are now considered to have built up enough immunity, along with those who were inoculated before.
3) Obviously, this segment of the population needs the second dose, the sooner the better. But for now at least, the mass vaccinations appear to have blunted the third wave in Montreal, along with the #pandemic restrictions.
Read 12 tweets
24 Apr
1) Quebec on Friday disclosed that #COVID19 hospitalizations dropped by 27 to 684. This represented the steepest decline in hospitalizations since Feb. 15., with most of the decrease taking place in Montreal. In this thread, I will examine this latest trend on hospitals.
2) First, though, I wanted to provide some added context by comparing Quebec’s numbers with those in Ontario. Our neighbor to the west reported 2,287 #COVID19 hospitalizations, down from 2,350 the day before. But the overall number of cases is sadly still rising in Ontario.
3) In Montreal, #COVID19 hospitalizations declined by 20 to 249. During the second wave’s peak on Jan. 12, Montreal reported 627 such hospitalizations. Obviously, the latest decrease eases pressure on the acute-care network, but the system is already fractured in many ways.
Read 10 tweets
23 Apr
1) Breaking: Quebec posts 60 more sequenced variant cases on Friday for a total of 3,574. More than half of the new sequenced cases are not the B.1.1.7 variant that was first detected in the U.K. late last year.
2) Seventeen of the new variant cases are B.1.351, which was first discovered in South Africa. Abitibi-Témiscamingue posted nine such cases for a total of 141. Montreal added seven cases to 22. This variant has been found in eight regions of Quebec to date.
3) Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and Outaouais each reported for the first time a single case of P.1, the variant that has caused massive deaths and hospitalizations in Brazil. Montreal added six new such cases for a total of 14. This variant is now in seven regions of the province.
Read 9 tweets
23 Apr
1) If there was ever any doubt that the variants are truly driving the third wave in the #COVID19 #pandemic, consider this comparison between Quebec and Ontario. On Feb. 7, Quebec posted a total of 22 variant cases and Ontario 401.
2) By Thursday, the number of variant #COVID19 cases in Quebec climbed to 3,514. By comparison, in Ontario — which is sadly in the midst of a much worse third wave — variant cases have soared to 44,536 in a little over two months.
3) We still don’t know why Ontario was hit so much harder than Quebec with the variants. Is it because Ontario reports much more international air travel than Quebec? Is it because Ontario’s #pandemic restrictions were laxer than those in Quebec?
Read 10 tweets
14 Apr
1) Premier François Legault decided not to sugar-coat the #pandemic on Tuesday, warning Quebecers there will be “a lot of uncertainty over the next two months.” Legault spoke of the #COVID19 resurgence in the regions. In this thread, I will focus on what he didn’t speak about.
2) Legault spoke about how Quebecers in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are now being hospitalized for #COVID19 amid the variant-driven third wave. But he didn’t speak about the rise in cases in eldercare homes. montrealgazette.com/news/quebec/an…
3) As I wrote about in my @mtlgazette column tonight, Quebec’s eldercare residents are overdue their second vaccine shots, especially in regions where the more contagious variants are accelerating. Elders are also being hospitalized in high numbers, as the chart below shows.
Read 12 tweets
13 Apr
1) In addition to the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the U.K., there were tentative signs on Monday that three other variants are beginning to pop up in regions across Quebec. In this thread, I will assess what this means.
2) The B.1.1.7 variant is still the predominant one in Quebec, with 1,434 cases, up by five since last week. This doesn’t mean there were only five new cases of B.1.1.7, though. There’s still a backlog of thousands of cases to sequence genetically.
3) Apart from B.1.1.7, the Outaouais declared for the first time a B.1.351 case. This #COVID19 strain originated in South Africa and has been shown to be resistant to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Cases in the B.1.351 hot spot of Abitibi-Témiscamingue inched up by three to 131.
Read 15 tweets
11 Apr
1) Quebec’s Health Minister expressed concern on Sunday that 58% of new cases across the province are being identified in people under the age of 40 in the third wave. In this thread, I will show how #COVID19 hospitalizations are occurring here in younger age groups, too.
2) Quebec on Sunday posted a total of 608 #COVID19 hospitalizations, up by 25 since Saturday. The chart below shows that 10 of those hospitalizations occurred in Quebecers in their 30s. Still, the predominant group are those in their 60s, 20 years younger than in the first wave.
3) This is happening for two reasons. Many Quebecers in their 80s and 90s have already been vaccinated against #COVID19, although a good number are still being hospitalized for the #pandemic illness, as the chart below reveals.
Read 11 tweets
11 Apr
1) Since April 1, the age group in Quebec reporting both the greatest number of #COVID19 hospitalizations and the sharpest increase are those in their 60s, according to the latest provincial data. This is a drop of 20 years from the first wave.
2) The data by Quebec’s public health institute shows a net increase of 80 #pandemic hospitalizations since the start of the month for a total of 583. This suggests the third wave is already having a deleterious effect on the province.
3) The number of #COVID19 deaths has risen by 61 to 10,737 in Quebec since April 1. In the eight days prior to the start of April, the number of deaths rose by 49. Again, this suggests the third wave is growing worse in Quebec.
Read 10 tweets
10 Apr
1) COVID-19 outbreaks in Quebec workplaces are not getting the attention they deserve, but they’ve been surging just as much, if not more, than those in schools. On Friday, the number of such clusters jumped by 25 to 499. In this thread, I will address the workplace phenomenon.
2) Since April 1, the number of #COVID19 outbreaks in schools across Quebec has risen from 175 to 251, or 43%. During the same period, workplace outbreaks have climbed from 349 to 499, or 43% as well. Yet the risks of workplace contagion are not being discussed as much.
3) Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Quebec made masks mandatory for employees in all workplaces on Thursday. No doubt the more transmissible variants spurred public health authorities to act more aggressively in this third wave. But which workplaces are the most vulnerable?
Read 10 tweets
9 Apr
1) The impact of the third wave on Quebec hospitals thus far is not nearly as severe as what is going on in Ontario, but there are ominous signs the situation is deteriorating in the acute-care system here. In this thread, I will examine those signs.
2) As I report in my @mtlgazette column tonight, over-burdened Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital is now offloading #COVID19 patients to nearby Santa Cabrini Hospital. The reason is a severe shortage of nurses. montrealgazette.com/news/local-new…
3) In the past nine days, the number of #COVID hospitalizations in Quebec has jumped from 487 to 566. The biggest increase is being observed in the 60-to-69 age group, as you can glimpse from the chart below. In the first wave, it was patients in their 80s who were hospitalized.
Read 10 tweets
8 Apr
1) On the eve of a second 5 p.m. news conference tomorrow by Premier François Legault this week, it’s now clear that the #pandemic in Quebec has deteriorated sharply in the past two days. In this thread, I will take stock of the latest worrisome trends.
2) First, let me extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of the 16-year-old student who died of #COVID19 at Sainte-Justine Hospital Saturday, the youngest person in Quebec to have succumbed to the #coronavirus, most likely from one of the variants. montrealgazette.com/news/local-new…
3) Quebec posted an increase of 29 #COVID19 hospitalizations Wednesday, raising the total in the province to 543. The increase was the highest since Jan. 17, when Quebec was at the peak of its second wave. Yet Health Minister Christian Dubé downplayed the severity of the spike.
Read 11 tweets
7 Apr
1) A record 27 schools across Quebec announced on Tuesday that they have suspected variant #COVID19 cases. Most are found in the Capitale-Nationale region, which has already shut schools until April 12. But seven schools are located in the Montreal area.
2) On Tuesday evening, Premier François Legault backtracked on his decision requiring Montreal high school seniors to attend classes five days a week. But as the latest list by covidecolesquebec.org shows, the variants are still circulating widely in Montreal classrooms.
3) Legault again asserted that the situation is under control in Montreal. Please let me draw your attention to an article by my @mltgazette colleague @katelynthomas that Montreal's #COVID19 case numbers are again rising from a plateau. montrealgazette.com/news/local-new…
Read 10 tweets
4 Apr
1) It appears that even during the third wave, mass vaccinations in Montreal may be blunting the impact of the more contagious variants, while these strains surge in other regions with much lower inoculation rates. In this thread, I will focus on the vaccination effort.
2) This is not to suggest that the #pandemic is under control in Montreal, as Premier François Legault claimed last week without evidence. More than three quarters of the city’s population has still not received a shot and the variants are still spreading in the metropolis.
3) The #COVID19 variants struck Montreal first, long before the outlying regions, and the city has accumulated the most cases of the more transmissible strains. But it’s worth pointing out that the variants are now surging faster in regions with much lower vaccination rates.
Read 13 tweets
3 Apr
Breaking: Quebec on Saturday reports its biggest daily increase yet in the number of #COVID19 variant cases: 771, for a total of 9,558. Positivity rate up to 60.3%. Big data dump. More tweets to come.
2) The Capitale-Nationale is surging with #COVID19 variants, up by 338 cases since Friday. The region is posting a rate of 217.9 variant cases per 100,000 residents, the highest by far of any region. Laval comes in second with a rate of 181.8.
3) The Côte Nord records for the first time variant cases, two of them. This means that the more contagious variants like B.1.1.7 are now circulating in 14 of Quebec's 16 regions.
Read 12 tweets
3 Apr
1) Montreal’s hospitals are beginning to report an uptick in #COVID19 admissions during the #pandemic’s third wave, with younger and sicker patients staying longer in intensive-care units. Please click on my column below in the @mtlgazette. montrealgazette.com/news/local-new…
2) Local authorities are not observing a surge in patients in their 20s and 30s, although there are ICU patients in those age groups. What stands out are intensive-care patients in their 50s. There are also concerns these #COVID19 patients may be a lot sicker.
3) These observations square with findings that the more contagious variants are responsible for more severe #COVID19 hospitalizations. And Quebec is now reporting a lot more variant cases, 687 more since Thursday. See the chart below.
Read 10 tweets
2 Apr
1) Although Premier François Legault has announced lockdowns in Quebec City, Lévis and Gatineau, the variant-fueled #pandemic is now rising in nearly every region of the province, the latest government statistics show. In this thread, I will assess this turn for the worse.
2) As you can see from the chart below, #COVID19 cases have ramped up since Wednesday in 15 of Quebec’s 17 regions. Although the number of cases dipped by 21 in the Montérégie, they’re up by 30 overall since March 21.
3) Undeniably, #COVID19 is surging in the Capitale-Nationale, but cases have risen in the past three days in Montreal amid an increase in outbreaks in the workplace and in schools. As I wrote in yesterday’s thread, the situation in Montreal is definitely precarious.
Read 10 tweets
1 Apr
1) Premier François Legault asserted Wednesday the #pandemic is “relatively stable” and “under control” in Montreal as he imposed lockdowns in Quebec City, Lévis and Gatineau. But as I will attempt to show in this thread, the situation in Montreal remains as precarious as ever.
2) As I reported in my column in the @mtlgazette tonight, the number of #COVID19 outbreaks in Montreal jumped by 50 since a week ago, hardly a sign of stability. The more contagious variants are proliferating as never before in the metropolis. montrealgazette.com/news/local-new…
3) Schools have been responsible for most of the latest #COVID19 outbreaks in Montreal, and this was before high school seniors were required to attend class five days a week. At least six schools in Montreal shuttered classes because of the #VariantsOfConcern on Wednesday.
Read 10 tweets
29 Mar
1) The #pandemic is once again surging in the Capitale-Nationale region of Quebec as it had last September, but this time it’s the more contagious variants — and not a karaoke bar — that’s driving the transmission. In this thread, I will focus on the regions beyond Montreal.
2) On March 21, the region that includes the provincial capital recorded 35 #COVID19 cases. By Sunday, that number more than tripled to 114. Also on Sunday, Quebec’s public health institute noted an increase of 94 variant cases in this region. Please see the chart below.
3) In the past two days alone, at least 13 schools in the Quebec City area announced they had suspected or confirmed variant cases, according to covidecolesquebec.org, which has been providing timelier updates on the variants than the Education Ministry.
Read 10 tweets