The swell of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has caught public health authorities off guard, as the number of new cases being diagnosed continues to rise dramatically across the province.
“Unfortunately, the situation is deteriorating more rapidly and sooner than we expected,” says Dr. Julie Loslier, the director of the Direction du Santé Publique de la Montérégie, in a video posted to Facebook on August 18.
“We knew there would be an increase in cases with everyone returning and with the increase in all our contacts, but at the moment we are seeing a very, very rapid increase which is due to a variant that is more contagious,” Loslier explains, before noting there are as many cases, if not more, than were recorded at this time last year in mid- to late September.
“This certainly worries us,” she admits.
There are currently 19 outbreaks in the Montérégie, a dramatic increase from the low of just two reported a little over two weeks ago. For the first time in months, the Haut-Saint-Laurent is now reporting nine new cases of the virus, while the Jardins-de-Napierville and Beauharnois-Salaberry regions are each reporting fifteen new cases. A total of 44 cases were reported in Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
In her address, Loslier confirms that the Delta variant is behind the sudden increase in cases. She says the variant is not only more contagious, but also more aggressive, meaning its contraction often results in more severe consequences for patients. She admits there are still many unknown variables at play, including the possibility of people transmitting the virus even when they are already vaccinated. To date, 173 cases of the Delta variant have been confirmed in the Montérégie.
Two doses to be protected
Dr. Loslier confirms that most diagnosed new cases are amongst the non-vaccinated population or those who have only received one dose, with the highest number of cases currently affecting the 20-29 age cohort.
“With this variant, we really need the two doses to be protected,” she says.
As of August 18, the vaccination rate for a first dose in the Haut-Saint-Laurent has finally breached the 70 per cent mark; however, the region continues to lag well behind the Montérégie-wide average of 76.4 per cent. Over 62 per cent of the total population in the Haut-Saint-Laurent is now fully vaccinated, though rates are below 50 per cent for the 18-29 and 30-39 age cohorts.
The CISSSMO is continuing its push to improve the vaccination rate in the Haut-Saint-Laurent by using pop-up mobile vaccination clinics that have been rotating through the different municipalities. The next vaccination clinic will take place on August 27 at the Sainte-Barbe Fire Hall starting at 3 p.m.
Those preferring to make an appointment to roll up their sleeve will now have to go to Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, as the CISSSMO officially closed the vaccination clinic at the Recreation Centre in Ormstown on August 18.
The schedule and location for all mobile vaccination clinics across the Montérégie is updated regularly on the CISSSMO website, www.santemonteregie.qc.ca/vaccination-contre-la-covid-19-en-monteregie; this also lists which vaccines will be avail-able at the different locations. All mobile vaccination clinics have a limited supply of vaccines and are working on a first-come, first-served basis.
In concluding her statement, Loslier reiterated the importance of continuing to follow public health measures and protocols regarding distancing, hand hygiene, and wearing a mask in public places, even if fully vaccinated.