“I know that I disappointed a lot of people”, recognizes François Legault

At a time when worrying projections surround the rapid progression of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Quebec, Premier François Legault made a point of revisiting his government’s decision on Saturday to impose new health restrictions in the province, a few Christmas days.

“I know that I disappointed a lot of people and you can be angry with me or against the situation, that’s normal,” the Prime Minister wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday morning in a long message to Quebecers.

After months of calm marked by relaxation of health rules, the Legault government announced Thursday evening a series of restrictions as the holiday season approaches, which has revived painful memories for many Quebecers. The capacity of shops, dining rooms, restaurants and bars will return to 50% in particular from Monday, while Christmas gatherings will be limited to 10 people. Dancing and singing will also be banned again in bars from Monday, while the back-to-school face-to-face for high school students is postponed to January 10.

“I will not hide from you that it hurt me” to announce these measures, wrote the Prime Minister, who is particularly sorry for the restaurateurs and the managers of theaters, “who finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel ”.

“We have never seen something so overwhelming since the start of the pandemic,” added the elected official.

However, in addition to being more contagious than the Delta variant, still dominant in the province, the Omicron variant could present some resistance to COVID-19 vaccines. The different scenarios issued on Thursday by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ), although “preliminary”, moreover all set out a dark portrait the repercussions of the Omicron variant on the health situation in Quebec. Published charts show that the number of daily cases could reach an average of more than 4,000 in the coming weeks, while 200 new hospitalizations could be reported each day. A peak would be reached as the month of February approaches, then the curve of cases and hospitalizations would start to decline rapidly.

Without the Omicron variant, the increase in hospitalizations would have been half as much, according to INSPQ projections. We would thus bring back a hundred per day during the holidays, which is generally associated with an increase in contacts.

“The impact of this increase in community transmission of Omicron on hospitalizations will depend mainly on the extent of its vaccine escape and its severity in people who have been doubly vaccinated or who are immune to previous strains”, indicates the INSPQ. . However, researchers at Imperial College London have indicated in a study published Thursday found “no evidence” that the Omicron variant could be less virulent than the Delta variant.

The researchers, however, report “strong evidence” that the risk of being infected with the Omicron variant for people who have been vaccinated and those who have already contracted COVID-19 is about five times greater compared to the Delta variant.

It is therefore in this context that Mr. Legault announced Thursday evening the announcement of new health restrictions, while announcing to citizens that “Quebec was going to be hit hard” by this new wave of COVID-19 cases.

“I prefer to give you hope than to disappoint you. But my duty is to tell you the truth and to make decisions, even if they are hard or unpopular ”, indicated Mr. Legault. The toll of COVID-19 has also increased again on Saturday with the addition of 35 new hospitalizations and 3,631 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the last 24 hours.


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