The coronavirus is spreading through Quebec “unbelievably fast” , Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said Monday as the province reported more than 4,500 new cases.
The provincial government announced a raft of closures and restrictions that came into effect on Monday, but Dubé also offered some advice for how individual Quebecers can help to slow the spread of the fast-moving Omicron variant of the virus.
1. Reduce contacts with others
While the government has closed bars, gyms, schools and movie theatres, Dubé also urged Quebecers to reduce the number of people they are in contact with.
“If every person goes from 10 contacts to five contacts, we’ve removed 40 million contacts. That’s what the virus feeds on,” he said. “The best thing you can do for yourself and everyone else is to reduce your contacts.”
2. Don’t test without symptoms
Quebec has reached the capacity of people it can test every day. Only people who have symptoms should go to mass testing centres, Dubé said. He asked others to not go to testing centres so testing staff can focus on people who are probably contagious and who have symptoms.
3. Use rapid self tests judiciously
Quebec began distributing rapid self-tests at pharmacies on Monday, but there are not enough for everyone in the province yet. The plan is for 4 million tests to eventually be distributed across the province.
Dubé asked for people to be patient as the rapid test rollout continues.
If you have received rapid tests from your child’s school or daycare, do not go to a pharmacy to get more tests, Dubé said. That will give others a chance to get rapid tests.
He also said people should only use the rapid tests if they have COVID-19 symptoms so the tests work properly. If you get a positive result, go to a testing centre to confirm the result. You should isolate until you get the second test result.
Elementary schools will stay open this week only for people to pick up their child’s rapid test or for their child to be vaccinated.
4. Alert your contacts
With thousands of new cases every day, public-health officials are unable to get in touch with everyone who may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. That is particularly the case in Montreal, Dubé said. If you receive a positive COVID-19 test, Dubé said, you should immediately isolate. Then you should get in touch as rapidly as possible with anyone you may have been in contact with and tell them to isolate also.
Those eligible for a first, second or third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine should make an appointment for their shot as soon as possible, Dubé said. Appointments opened on Monday for people ages 65 to 69. On Dec. 27, people ages 60 to 64 will be able to book their appointments.
Quebec is working to reopen mass vaccination centres, and more appointment slots will be made available.
You can book an appointment at clicsante.ca.