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Reopening plan should not harm Quebec hospitals, according to projections


Quebec's gradual reopening plan should not trigger a significant rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations or new infections in the greater Montreal area, according to new projections by the province's public health research institute.

The modelling released Wednesday by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec and Université Laval indicated that vaccination coverage coupled with the fact that many people were infected by the Omicron variant should keep new cases and hospitalizations relatively low at least until May.

About one-third residents of the greater Montreal area have been infected with the virus since Dec. 1, the institute estimated.

Marc Brisson, the head of a research group in mathematical modelling at Université Laval, said Quebec still needs to be cautious and monitor new variants as well as vaccine efficacy. He estimated that if the Omicron subvariant BA.2 is 1.4 times as contagious as the original Omicron mutation, Quebec could see a rise in new hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths in March.

"But (the rise) would not reach the peaks seen in January 2022 even in a pessimistic scenario," Brisson said in a news release on Wednesday.

"If the number of cases of the fifth wave is indeed very high as our modelling suggests, the epidemic potential of Omicron could be limited, even in the context of a gradual easing of sanitary measures."

Quebec is planning to lift almost all COVID-19 restrictions across the province by March 14, when the vaccine passport system is scheduled to be suspended.

Meanwhile, another major health-care research institute reported Wednesday that hospitalizations for the week ending on Feb. 25 dropped by 25 per cent compared to the previous week. Hospitalizations have dropped by 25 per cent each week for the last six weeks.

The Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux said hospitalizations have dropped across all age groups in the province, adding that the number of COVID-19 patients in the province should continue to drop over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 20 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus Wednesday, for a total of 14,016 since the start of the pandemic. The Health Department said COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped by 58, to 1,381, after 88 patients were admitted in the past 24 hours and 146 were discharged. The number of people in intensive care dropped by eight, to 82.

Health officials reported 1,630 new cases detected through PCR testing, which is reserved for certain high-risk groups. They said 7,089 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in the previous 24 hours.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 2, 2022. Top Stories

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