MONTREAL -- Though they were hit hard during the first wave of the pandemic, there is now just one active case of COVID-19 in Quebec's long-term care homes.

At the height of the pandemic, in the spring of 2020, Quebec's health ministry was monitoring dozens of outbreaks at CHSLDs across the province.

Many of them were deemed "in critical condition," meaning that more than 25 per cent of residents were infected.

As of June 13, CHSLD Aimé-Leduc in Montérégie is the only facility that remains on the ministry's watchlist, with one active case reported.

The vaccine against COVID-19 is a factor in stopping more outbreaks, according to the Institut national de Santé publique du Québec (INSPQ): 95 per cent of residents have received their first dose and 84 per cent have received their second.

"These are very high rates. We're very happy," said Dr. Jasmin Villeneuve, medical advisor to the INSPQ responsible for coordinating scientific activities for the prevention and control of infections in care settings.

The situation in private seniors' residences (RPAs) has also improved considerably, although in mid-June there were slightly more cases than in CHSLDs, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

The Bonséjour residence in Saint-Jean-de-Dieu, in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, is still flagged red on the government's list: 44 per cent of its residents have COVID-19.

However, the facility is small, which means there are four active cases. Ten other RPAs are currently "under surveillance," but most have only one infected person.

Vaccination rates in RPAs are even higher than in CHSLDs: 95 per cent of residents have received their first dose and 87 per cent have received both.

Villeneuve explains several hypotheses behind the notable decrease in the number of active cases.

First, the vaccination of residents and caregivers in these settings is "a major element," he says, "that has made a big difference since the winter."

He states, "we now have a better understanding of the disease" and how it spreads.

"The knowledge that we have acquired helps a lot to protect ourselves," Villeneuve said.

The decrease in the number of cases in the general population has also impacted residents in CHSLDs and RPAs.

The small number of active cases in CHSLDs, "is very encouraging," he states, and the challenge now will be to see if this continues.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 15, 2021.