The Gleaner
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Mask mandate soon to be lifted; case counts slowly fall

Quebec’s interim public health director, Dr. Luc Boileau, confirmed last week that the peak of the sixth wave of the pandemic is now behind us.

Mask requirements are also expected to be lifted in public places as of May 14, with Boileau suggesting he is not seeing anything that could derail this recommendation. Masks will remain mandatory on public transit, however, as well as in health care institutions and long-term care residences.

The sixth wave seems to be receding in the region as well. Hospitalizations were down this past week with fewer than five COVID-positive patients being treated at the Barrie Memorial Hospital in Ormstown as of April 28. There were 39 patients admitted with the virus at the Suroit Hospital in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, while staff at the Anna Laberge Hospital in Chateauguay were treating 57 patients.

In the 24 hours preceding May 2, there were 25 positive cases identified in the Haut-Saint-Laurent local health network (LHN). The Beauharnois-Salaberry LHN recorded 196 cases in the same time period, while 276 new cases were recorded in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges LHN, and the Jardins-Roussillon LHN added an additional 533 cases. These numbers reflect cases identified at official government testing facilities, and likely reflect an underestimation of the total number of cases in the region. The numbers suggest the virus is still present and spreading locally.

Absenteeism in local schools has also been decreasing since Easter. According to Rob Buttars, the director general for the New Frontiers School Board, only 2.2 per cent of students were absent board-wide on April 26 because they were either isolating at home or had tested positive.

“The system has been somewhat quiet and dare I say ‘normal’ feeling,” says Buttars. “We are hearing that schools are planning graduations, and that many activities have resumed,” he adds.

Vaccination rates have not increased, save for those who have not received a third or fourth dose. At least 50 per cent of those eligible in the Haut-Saint-Laurent are now triple-vaccinated. A second booster shot continues to be recommended to vulnerable populations as well as to those above the age of 60.

Appointments can be booked locally through the Clicsante.ca portal for the mobile vaccination clinic at the Huntingdon Legion, which is open on Wednesday, May 4 and May 11, from 1 to 7 p.m. (SR)

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