After being the epicenter of the pandemic in the country, Montreal says it has done its homework and is preparing “for the worst” for a possible second wave.
“We can’t predict whether it will be several small outbreaks, medium waves or a big one in November. But clearly, we must prepare for the worst ”, supported Friday at a press briefing the director of public health of Montreal, the Dre Mylène Drouin.
But a large-scale re-containment is “very unlikely,” said Dr.r Horacio Arruda, National Director of Public Health. Putting Quebec on hiatus has saved “a lot of lives”, but there have been “perverse effects”, he said, especially among schoolchildren deprived of socialization and elderly people with loss of autonomy.
In view of the fall, the objective is therefore “to protect the most vulnerable people”, but also to “keep community transmission as low as possible” and to avoid overloading the network, underlined Mylène Drouin. To get there, Public Health has set two priorities: be ready to screen for, investigate and manage outbreaks, and prevent the virus from returning to seniors’ settings.
However, the management of nursing staff remains a crucial issue to face a potential second wave. The latter must remain mobilized, conceded the two experts.
A regional “command center” has been set up, bringing together the CIUSSS of Montreal, Public Health and the Ministry of Health and Social Services. It will make it possible to “take decisions quickly” if issues specific to the metropolis arise, illustrated the Dre Drouin.
A “contact center” pilot project has also been launched to speed up case investigations. An external firm is now responsible for collecting basic information and giving instructions. Public Health investigators then take over. The goal was to free the latter from this task “which takes a lot of time”, and to avoid having to mobilize them en masse in the event of an outbreak of cases, explained the Dre Drouin.
These command and contact centers were among the 24 recommendations recently made by the new Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Dominique Savoie, in a report on the shortcomings in the management of the crisis in Montreal.
Public Health is also computerizing investigation processes at present. So that, in particular, the negative results are sent directly to the patients, detailed the Dr Rue.
The start of the school year is also under the magnifying glass of the Public Health of Montreal, but the details will be communicated “in the coming weeks,” said Mylène Drouin. Quebec must present its readjusted plan to return to class on Monday.
Especially in CHSLDs
In front of the journalists, the Dre Drouin took stock of the turbulent spring. She had taken stock earlier with the Dr Arruda and the 10 CEOs of the CIUSSS de Montréal.
Unsurprisingly, the virus has claimed many lives in seniors ‘settings – including CHSLDs and seniors’ residences. They monopolized 88% of all COVID-19-related deaths recorded in the territory. And 76% of them ended up with an outbreak.
In addition, healthcare workers have been particularly affected by the pandemic, stressed the Dre Drouin. Some 6,268 of them were infected, or 22% of all recorded cases. This spread then turned parts of the city into hot spots, like Montreal North.
If there were hiccups during the first wave, Montreal also had some good shots, argued Mylène Drouin. She cited as an example the deployment of the temporary screening clinic on the Place des Festivals or the efforts made with itinerant customers to limit which have limited the contagion.