Montreal COVID-19 numbers have plateaued but vigilance is needed: public health officials
MONTREAL -- "Numbers are stable in Montreal," said Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante Wednesday afternoon on the state of COVID-19 on the island. "This being said, we should not lower the guard."
Plante made the statement during a news conference on the state of the novel coronavirus on the island. She said that the daily increase in numbers have plateaued, but that the city will remain in the red zone.
Montreal public health officials announced Tuesday at 4 p.m. of the day that the 316 more people on the island have tested positive for COVID-19 bringing the total number of cases to 39,712.
Since the start of the pandemic, 3,516 people have died due to the disease.
The head of the Montreal South-Central health and social services centre Sonia Belanger said there are 104 health-care employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, and just over 200 other employees are waiting for results.
"The number of cases is quite low for the health-care workers," said Belanger. "This is not comparable with what we had in one wave when there were thousands on sick leave."
In addition, Belanger said there are around 15 seniors' residences are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, but that those outbreaks have not been as extreme as the ones seen in the spring.
"The good news is that since last week there have not been any large-scale outbreaks," said Belanger.
However, Belanger said there were 26 new cases in public CHSLDs over the past week, which are a much higher than the numbers at private residences.
Montreal director of public health Mylene Drouin said numbers are going in the right direction.
"There is a slight rise, but we have a lot of leeway," said Drouin. "We all need to be vigilant and maintain all the applications of the measures."
She said the positive test rate is around five per cent, but that, with lockdown in place, testing numbers are down.
There are, she said, about 200 active outbreaks including more than 73 at schools.
What is concerning, Drouin said, is the emotional toll the pandemic has had on young people. She said 45 per cent of those between 18 and 29 years old have said they are experiencing negative mental health issues.
She added that the city's public health offiicials are studying the effects of the pandemic on the island's youth including on their mental health and well-being.
"We're going to work with our partners to find solutions and see how to work with youths to reduce those impacts," said Drouin.
Loss of employment and high infection rates have led to a drop in motivation to go to school and other issues.
MORE RESOURCES FOR THE HOMELESS
The mayor also spoke about the city's plans to help the homeless camped along Notre-Dame St. East to find a place to stay indoors with the winter approaching.
Three shelters were opened at the end of August with 300 beds, but they filled quickly, and Plante said the goal is to double resources for homeless people during winter.
"We see that needs are there," she said. "We'll offer 400 additional emergency beds, and warm waiting areas."
Typically, the city adds 200 beds during the winter, Plante said.
Plante said numbers have gone down at the tent city, but dozens of tents remain in place.
She wants the numbers to continue to go down, which is the reason for increasing resources.
FLU VACCINE SHORTAGE?
Drouin and Belanger responded concerns about a lack of season flu vaccines this year and said there likely won't be a shortage of flu vaccines on the island.
"In terms of the doses, I don't think they'll be a lack of doses," said Drouin.
Belanger said that though the damand for flu vaccines is significantly higher than in past years, she is confident the CIUSSS centres will have enough to meet the demand.
"Currently nothing indicates that we won't have enough vaccines, quite the contrary," she said. "The big issue is staff shortage."
Belanger said the CIUSSS centres are considering increasing the number of time slots for vaccinations.