Three quarters of Montrealers 60 and older have received a first vaccine shot, public health says
MONTREAL -- The number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 is continuing to trend downward in Montreal and the city is on track to reach its vaccination targets, public health officials said Wednesday.
To date, 75 per cent of Montrealers aged 60 and up have received their first shot and overall, 30 per cent of the city's population received a vaccine, Montreal public health director Mylene Drouin said at a news conference.
"Montreal is progressing in the right direction," she said.
There are currently 219 people in hospital due to the coronavirus, and the ICU is currently treating 77 patients. The city also recorded 294 new cases on Wednesday.
Drouin painted a positive picture for the metropolis, once known as one of Canada's COVID-19 hotpots early on in the pandemic. From the perspective of public health, the city is coping with the third wave quite well, but wants residents to not let their guard down.
She said there are a number of reasons why Montreal is doing well, including detecting variants of COVID-19 rapidly and ramping up the vaccination campaign. She gave the example of the B.1.617 variant, first identified in India, which was detected in Montreal earlier this month. She said there were two cases and after rapid isolation, there have been no reports of secondary transmission.
"Even though we have more and more variants that are representing 65 per cent of all our new cases, we still have small outbreaks, but we control them well," she said. "We do not have any events of super transmission, like we are seeing in other cities."
On Wednesday, St. Mary's Hospital in Montreal said it is dealing with an outbreak after 14 staff members in the emergency room have tested positive.
Drouin said she could comment on that specific case because she didn’t have all the details in front of her.
Public health is aiming to have all residents of CHSLDs fully vaccinated by May 8, but it remains to be seen when that will be achieved in hospital settings.
CONCERN ABOUT ASTRAZENECA VACCINE
There are only approximately 2,000 doses of AstraZeneca shots in the Montreal area, but the rollout of that vaccine could be hampered by the recent death of a 54-year-old woman who died after receiving her first shot. This is the first death in Canada that appears to be linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Francine Boyer and her husband both got the shot on April 9 and while her husband didn’t experience any side effects afterward, his wife’s condition worsened. After she was hospitalized in the Montreal Neurological Institute, she died on April 23 due to cerebral thrombosis.
There are only two confirmed cases of blood clots associated with the specific vaccine and two suspected cases. Health-care workers have administred more than 400,000 doses of AstraZeneca doses in Quebec so far.
Officials said Tuesday such cases are extremely rare and that it’s still much safer to get a vaccine than to get the coronavirus.
"It is extremely sad," Drouin said. "What I repeat is the message of experts that we received and I wish to remind people that … Health Canada reiterated once again that the benefits of vaccination with AstraZeneca were much more important than the risk."
As of yet, there hasn’t been a significant increase in people showing up to the emergency room with side effects linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to Sonia Belanger, head of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.
Belanger said if people experience side effects to consult their doctors.
REOPENING PATIOS ON THE HORIZON
On Monday, Montreal’s curfew will be pushed back to 9:30 p.m. as the situation here remains somewhat stable. With the rise in variants in mind, public health said it is working on meeting a threshold of about 77 or 80 per cent immunization that includes a second dose before returning to pre-pandemic life.
With warmer weather and a later curfew on the way, people will be looking forward to when they can finally sit on a patio and Drouin hinted that could come sooner rather than later.
“But at the same time, of course, we will consider reopening some sectors less at risk before attaining this goal, and we'll have to see how the other indicators of incidents, positivity rates and outbreaks are regressing,” Drouin said.
Those decisions, however, will be set by the province.