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Haut-Saint-Laurent vaccination rate is lowest in Montérégie

Just under 50 per cent of the Haut-Saint-Laurent population over the age of 18 has received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s encouraging news; however, fewer people are being vaccinated in the area than in all other MRCs in the Montérégie.

According to the Direction de santé publique de la Montérégie, the vaccination rate for a first dose of one of three available vaccines in the Haut-Saint-Laurent local health network (LHN) as of May 13 was 49.4 per cent, while the regional average was hovering just under 55 per cent.

The Suroît LHN has vaccinated almost 62 per cent of its population, while both the Jardins-Roussillon and Vaudreuil-Soulanges LHNs have seen rates above 54 per cent.

Over 630,000 individuals in the Montérégie have now received their first dose of a vaccine. Appointments can be booked for all Quebecers over the age of 18 who would like to be vaccinated. Booking can be done online at clicsante.ca for the Ormstown Vaccination Centre at the Recreation Centre, as well as for clinics in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Mercier, and Chateauguay.

Outbreak at Ormstown Elementary

A COVID-19 outbreak at Ormstown Elementary School (OES) has been identified as stemming from the B.1.1.7. variant which first emerged in the United Kingdom. In an email sent to OES families on May 7, principal Joanne Henrico confirmed the presence of the variant, noting that this is the reason transmission occurred so rapidly.

At least five students and two staff members tested positive for the virus. The kindergarten class and two daycare bubbles were closed in order to contain it quickly. Cases were also identified at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School, Hemmingford Elementary, and the Huntingdon Adult Education and Community Centre. All students affected by the outbreak returned to school this past week.

The outbreak was “quite scary,” acknowledged New Frontiers School Board director general Rob Buttars. He attributes the containment of the virus to the quick action of school staff and families, all of whom took the situation seriously.

It did not come as a surprise that the outbreak at OES was the result of a variant. Presently in the Montérégie, the positivity rate for variants is almost 84 per cent, and of those positive results, around 85 per cent are identified as the UK variant. The province is also tracking the presence of variants that originated in South Africa, Brazil, and Nigeria.

Orange zone in sight

With the number of cases steadily falling while the province continues to vaccinate at a steady pace, thoughts have turned to deconfinement. Buttars says he is anticipating a vaccination campaign aimed at secondary students to be in place before the end of the school year. He is also expecting the delivery of back-to-school directives by the Education Ministry in the next few weeks, which he says will no doubt include a vaccination plan.

Last week, Premier François Legault began hinting that several regions, including the Montérégie, could soon be downgraded to orange zones. This would allow for the easing of restrictions and the limited reopening of restaurants. Legault has also revealed a roadmap to reopening the province, with plans modeled on those released by Saskatchewan that pinned reopening to vaccination levels within the general population.

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