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Quebec wants travellers returning from holiday travel to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding planes – CBC.ca

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Travellers planning to return home to Quebec after holidaying abroad should face strict measures, including being tested for COVID-19 before hopping on a flight home and once again upon their arrival, the provincial health minister announced today.

This comes after Quebec recorded 2,381 new cases on Tuesday, along with 64 new deaths.

Saying the situation in Quebec hospitals is “critical,” particularly in the Montreal area, Christian Dubé announced he is asking the federal government for a series of measures to prevent travellers from spreading COVID-19 after returning to Quebec. They inlcude:

  • People returning to Quebec should be tested for COVID-19 before boarding their flight and not be allowed on a plane if they test positive for the virus.

  • Travellers should be subjected to rapid testing upon their arrival at international airports, such as Jean Lesage in Quebec City and Pierre Elliott Trudeau in Montreal. 

  • Dubé has also asked the federal government to tighten the enforcement of quarantine measures for travellers who have returned.

Dubé said Quebec and Ottawa “agree on these measures,” but that they are in negotiation about a timeline for implementing them. 

“If it was up to me, we would do it as of tomorrow morning,” the health minister said. “But we are in discussion with the federal government and we will continue those discussions over the next few hours.”

WATCH | Why Quebec’s health minister wants Ottawa to apply stricter rules for travellers:

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé is asking the federal government to ramp up measures for travelers returning to Canada. 1:21

Dubé said the new rules are necessary to avoid the surge in cases that occurred last spring in Quebec, where spring-break travellers brought the coronavirus home from abroad and Quebec experienced the worst caseloads in the country.

“The images we’ve seen of travellers down south are shocking for everybody, especially for those following the rules and the health-care workers,” Dubé said. “We have to remember what’s happening here.”

Dubé was referring to photos on social media of maskless Quebecers dining out, dancing and drinking in close proximity to other people at resorts.

Last Thursday, the Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS) published projections about hospital needs, indicating that Quebec hospitals could run out of beds by mid-January.

 “We will go beyond our capacity and half of the designated beds are already taken up,” Dubé said. “We have to remember why we are making these sacrifices.” 

The risks of travel

Dubé warned the costs of contracting COVID-19 while abroad — or of breaking rules here — could be very steep.

He said Quebecers who test positive for COVID-19 at a foreign airport will have to find hotels to stay in and pay the cost themselves before they can return home.

He also said Quebec has no intention of going beyond standard reimbursement for health care abroad, and that travellers will have to hope their private travel insurance covers any hospitalization or medical care because RAMQ coverage is “minimal.”

The health minister also reminded Quebecers that the fines for disobeying quarantine rules once back in Canada range from $800 to $750,000.

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Vaccination campaign gets underway in nine Cree communities in northern Quebec – Sudbury.com

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Boxes of doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived by plane in nine Cree communities in Quebec’s James Bay region over the weekend and were immediately put to work to protect the community, the head of the regional health board said Sunday.

Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, said vaccination was already underway in many of the communities, with the rest of the vaccine centres opening on Monday.

“In some ways, it represents a light at the end of the tunnel for us,” he said in a phone interview.

“It’s an added tool to defeating the virus as we move forward.”

Wapachee said he didn’t know the exact number of vaccines received, but said the communities would be able to offer a first dose to any adult community members who want them.

He said the remote Cree communities are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks due to overcrowded housing conditions that make isolating difficult, as well as a limited number of local health-care workers.

He said he was “confident” most of the community members would want the shot.

The region has contended with at least one outbreak involving about 40 cases.

While there are logistical challenges in delivering the vaccine to isolated communities, Wapachee said the area is well-served by regional airline Air Creebec, a strong team on the ground and a population that has done a good job respecting the health measures overall.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 50 new deaths due to COVID-19 on Sunday as well as a preliminary total of 1,744 new cases.

The province said a delay in transmitting data from Quebec’s labs means the number of cases is incomplete and will be adjusted in a future update.

Hospitalizations declined for the third straight day, down 14 to 1,460.

There were also 12 fewer people in intensive care, for a total of 215.

While the number of new cases recorded in Quebec has declined slightly over the past week, Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that it’s too soon to describe the movement as a trend.

He urged Quebecers to keep following health measures because the battle is “not yet won.”

The province administered just over 8,800 doses of vaccine on Saturday, he added.

Quebec has reported a total of 242,714 cases and 9,055 deaths since the pandemic began.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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Six-week vaccine pilot project to kick off Monday at Metro Toronto Convention Centre – Global News

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A pilot program is set to start administering COVID-19 vaccines in Toronto on Monday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

It will be the city’s first vaccination clinic in a community setting. The hope is that it will set the stage for what the future rollout of COVID-19 vaccines will look like when they become available to the public.

While hospital staff have been rolling up their sleeves for weeks, frontline shelter workers told Global News they had no idea when it would be their turn to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Diana Chan McNally, with the Toronto Drop-In Network, said when the decision was announced last Monday it was a shock. “It was completely unexpected,” McNally said.

Read more:
Online coronavirus vaccine tool estimates when Canadians will get their shots

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Tommy Taylor, who works in the Toronto shelter system, said “when it came time for things like vaccination, we just didn’t know where we were going to be on the schedule… just given how far we seemed to be of a thought on everything else.”

Starting tomorrow, the six-week pilot project in Toronto will be administering shots for staff working in shelters, harm reduction sites, and other community agencies.

Taylor said the news is a relief for him and his colleagues.

“Being a part of this vaccine really starts to put to rest some of those fears that we have had,” Taylor said. “Certainly waiting to hear if we were part of the plan that was a scary period of time.”

Read more:
When is it my turn? A coast-to-coast look at COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Officials said the site will be able to administer upwards of 250 COVID-19 vaccines per day. The program structure allows them to scale their work up or down depending on the number of doses available.

On Sunday, Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory toured the operation. “It’s going to be a pilot project that we can expand right across the province,” Ford said. “I know General Hillier is looking at 50 different sites across the province.”

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The plan is to use the pilot project as way to prove the model works, and iron out any issues that might arise.

Read more:
Feds publish coronavirus vaccine distribution list, painting rollout picture for coming months

“There will be a playbook issued out of this if you can call it that will tell everyone how to make sure based on the lessons learned right here that you can do this effectively,” Tory said.

Those who qualify, sign up online. McNally explained that agencies were tasked with coming up with a list of staff who would be eligible. Those individuals received a link to register.  But McNally said, given the supply and time frame, it is possible not everyone will get in during the pilot project. “There is the potential that some folks might not be able to receive the vaccine in this round,” McNally said.

However, officials said it’s a start, and every shot administered is one step closer to making sure everyone is protected.

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Quebec reports 50 more COVID-19 deaths, partial tally of 1744 cases – The Daily Courier

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Boxes of doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived by plane in nine Cree communities in Quebec’s James Bay region over the weekend and were immediately put to work to protect the community, the head of the regional health board said Sunday.

Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, said vaccination was already underway in many of the communities, with the rest of the vaccine centres opening on Monday.

“In some ways, it represents a light at the end of the tunnel for us,” he said in a phone interview.

“It’s an added tool to defeating the virus as we move forward.”

Wapachee said he didn’t know the exact number of vaccines received, but said the communities would be able to offer a first dose to any adult community members who want them.

He said the remote Cree communities are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks due to overcrowded housing conditions that make isolating difficult, as well as a limited number of local health-care workers.

He said he was “confident” most of the community members would want the shot.

The region has contended with at least one outbreak involving about 40 cases.

While there are logistical challenges in delivering the vaccine to isolated communities, Wapachee said the area is well-served by regional airline Air Creebec, a strong team on the ground and a population that has done a good job respecting the health measures overall.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 50 new deaths due to COVID-19 on Sunday as well as a preliminary total of 1,744 new cases.

The province said a delay in transmitting data from Quebec’s labs means the number of cases is incomplete and will be adjusted in a future update.

Hospitalizations declined for the third straight day, down 14 to 1,460.

There were also 12 fewer people in intensive care, for a total of 215.

While the number of new cases recorded in Quebec has declined slightly over the past week, Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that it’s too soon to describe the movement as a trend.

He urged Quebecers to keep following health measures because the battle is “not yet won.”

The province administered just over 8,800 doses of vaccine on Saturday, he added.

Quebec has reported a total of 242,714 cases and 9,055 deaths since the pandemic began.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021

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