In Quebec, the pandemic revealing a bloodless health system

LETTER FROM MONTREAL

The deafening audio message, such as Abduction Alert, sounded on all smartphones in Quebec on December 31, 2021 at 7 p.m.: “The curfew starts this evening at 10 pm, with a ban on leaving your house until 5 am. “

This untimely reminder, which caught the hearts of Quebecers preparing to celebrate alone or in their simple family bubble the transition to the New Year, was not to everyone’s taste. “This government talks to us like children”, Valérie squeaks. This 65-year-old Montrealer, duly vaccinated and unlikely to maintain the front of the refusal of anti-Covid-19 health measures, leaves, like many of her compatriots, her annoyance.

It was not until the end of the afternoon on New Year’s Eve that the provincial premier, François Legault (Coalition Avenir Québec, nationalist right center), announced to his compatriots his turn of the screw with effect immediate: ban on private gatherings, closure of restaurants, postponed back to school and new curfew therefore, in the hope of countering the Omicron wave and its some 15,000 new daily cases on average since the end of December 2021 which threaten the Quebec health network.

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The late announcement left restaurateurs with kilos of foie gras on their hands, and Quebecers worried: the previous curfew decreed on January 9, 2021 was supposed to last a month, but it was not finally lifted until the 28th. may.

Despite their docility to follow government instructions overwhelmingly and their eagerness to be vaccinated – in early January, 84.7% of Quebecers had received at least one dose – they are being sent back to square one. It is no longer “Groundhog Day” but “Groundhog Year” that they fear to endure.

The director of public health resigns

The rainbows drawn on the windows, accompanied by the slogan of encouragement “It’s going to be fine”, which had bloomed on the facades of Montreal apartments at the outbreak of the pandemic in spring 2020, have been erased. As seems to be eroding the collective confidence which has long accompanied the management of the epidemic by the public authorities. The head of government seems to have escaped vindictiveness so far: one year before the provincial elections which will see him put his mandate back into play, François Legault remains popular, collecting up to 46% of voting intentions (Institut Léger).

On the other hand, its national director of public health, Doctor Horacio Arruda, star of the first wave for his easygoing and reassuring attitude, concentrated in recent weeks all the criticisms. The long overdue third dose of vaccine, the shortage of PCR tests, the lack of surgical masks demanded by nursing staff, the 20,000 health workers infected and therefore absent or even the last-minute flip-flops, it was him and again him. Monday, January 10 in the evening, he announced his resignation. But the role of “fuse” of the head of public health should not obscure the essential: the return to a confined life is largely explained by a bloodless Quebec care system, long before the arrival of the pandemic.

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In Quebec, the pandemic revealing a bloodless health system

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