MONTREAL -- Montreal public health officials held what they hope to be their last news conference of the summer Tuesday, saying the COVID-19 situation looks positive in the city.

The news conference was held shortly after Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced the entire province is slated to move into the green zone by Monday.

“Montreal is in an excellent position, and all of our indicators continue to improve,” said Montreal public health director Mylene Drouin. “There will be new easing of measures, so of course we'll be able to take advantage, to see our friends and loved ones, to take up activities that we had left aside, and take advantage of the summer.”

Montreal counted 324 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, an average of 46 per day.

Drouin owed the decrease in new cases to a number of factors, including the summer weather, when the virus is less likely to spread, as well as the success of the vaccination campaign.

“It’s very encouraging and I really want to thank the population for answering the call. Coverage for the general population is 68 per cent. If we look at just 12 and upwards, 78 per cent. A coverage with two doses is at 18 per cent,” she said.

Despite the positive news, the public health director continued to stress the importance of vaccinations – particularly for younger Montrealers. Fifty-five per cent of children 12 to 17 have received a first dose of the vaccine, as have 71 per cent of those 18 to 29.

“So, that's approximately 80,000 people that we must reach as quickly as possible in order to have coverage of 75 per cent in all our age groups,” said Drouin.

TARGETED APPROACH

While mass vaccination sites will remain open, the city is also looking at targeted approaches in neighbourhoods, including a travelling ‘vaxivan,’ and vaccinations in parks and at sporting events.

“We really want to reach most of our population,” said Sonia Belanger, CEO of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montreal. “There’s no reason for us not to reach our 75 per cent and more for the 12 to 35-year-olds. There’s really no reason not to reach that.”

DELTA VARIANT 

Officials also said they continue to have concerns about the Delta variant.

“The Delta variant, as we know, is twice as transmissible as the U.K. variant. The rates of hospitalizations are twice as high, than with the U.K. variant. And we saw this in several countries, despite high rates of vaccination. We see that there are some significant increases including with our neighbours in Ontario,” said Drouin.

Montreal has counted 21 presumptive cases of the Delta variant since the end of April, and currently has six presumptive cases.

“In place with all the labs, we've put in place on modalities to be able to detect it very quickly,” said Drouin.

DROUIN'S CONTRACT RENEWED

Belanger took the opportunity of the summer’s last news conference to announce that Mylene Drouin’s mandate has been renewed, meaning she will continue in her role as the city’s public health director until 2025.

“This nomination should please all Montrealers. And I think that you were very present during this pandemic, and we are fortunate to have had you,” she said.

Drouin said it was a “pleasure,” adding that she was thankful for the vote of confidence.

“It's a pleasure for me to continue to serve Montrealers and to work to keeping Montrealers healthy and protecting them against threats, but to continue to find against social inequalities in health,” she said.