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About one-third of Montrealers caught Omicron, giving city immunity boost: authorities


As Quebec rolls back more and more COVID-19 rules -- including, most recently, the end of the mask mandate in schools -- Montreal's public health chief says she's comfortable with it, partly because of how many Montrealers have had the virus recently.

No less than a third of the city's entire population caught Omicron, or just over a million people, when Montreal was slammed hard by the most recent wave, said Montreal Public Health Director Dr. Mylene Drouin in a press conference.

"It has infected a great percentage of the population -- we estimate around 30 per cent, but it's possibly more than 30 per cent," she said.

However, the fact that things are much better than the height of the province's worst-ever wave a couple of months ago doesn't mean Montrealers should lose perspective, she said.

"We want to make sure that we still stay vigilant because we know, of course, that we can see other variants coming in, and the virus is still circulating at a high level in Montreal," she said.

She also said she expected, and hoped, it would be her last-ever COVID-19 press conference, but there are no guarantees.

It's not the end of the pandemic, she said -- it's too soon to say the virus has become "endemic," as some have been calling it.

That term is reserved for "when you're quite sure that you're not going to face another variant," she said.

"And we know that at an international level, we still have conditions that can introduce new variants... we haven't vaccinated all Africa right now," she said. "We know it can mutate easily."

It's also clear by now that COVID-19 has seasonal ups and downs, she said.


However, Montreal is in fairly good shape right now, by Drouin's accounting.

All indicators are dropping, including hospitalizations, known cases and outbreaks. Montreal's operating rooms are operating at 81 per cent capacity right now as the rest of the health system tries to add back procedures that were delayed and cancelled during the recent crisis.

The city has just 50 active outbreaks right now, a steep drop from the height of the wave, she said.

However, one troubling spot is the homeless and the shelter sector, which currently accounts for 12 of those 50 outbreaks, Drouin noted.

As rules ease, she asked people to act with common sense. If you do have symptoms, it's still crucial to take them seriously, she said.

"Get tested," she said. "Rapid tests are accessible in pharmacies," in much greater numbers than they were during the holiday shortage.

The period of self-isolation after a positive test is now only five days, as long as you test negative by the end of the five days, she said.

But if a person resumes their activities after that period, she said, they should still take care not to visit vulnerable people, and to wear masks.

It also remains very important to get a booster dose, she said.

As Montreal, and Quebec, enter a "period of transition," it's also going to be very important for people to be sensitive to the fact that their friends, family and neighbours may all have different comfort levels and paces of adjusting.

"I think we have to respect the rhythm [different] people are facing in this transition phase," she said.

"And we have to respect and support those persons." Top Stories

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