COVID-19 updates, Jan. 4: Isolation period halved for vaccinated Quebecers

The province will prioritize health sector patients and workers, the homeless and Indigenous communities for PCR tests.

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Updated throughout the day on Tuesday, Jan. 4. Questions/comments:


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Top updates:

  • More names added to Habs’ COVID-19 protocol list
  • Universities in Quebec delay return to in-person schooling
  • Quebecers told to hold off on booster if they’ve had COVID-19
  • COVID-19 isolation period reduced to five days in Quebec
  • Quebec reports 14,494 cases, 21 deaths as hospitalizations surge
  • Quebec adds restrictions in CHSLDs, RPAs
  • Quebecers 55 and up now eligible for COVID-19 boosters
  • Quebec liquor, cannabis stores to require vaccine passport: report

5:15 p.m.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business responds to Quebec’s new isolation, testing rules

In a release following Quebec’s announcement about reduced COVID-19 isolation periods for vaccinated Quebecers, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the new directive will help small-to-medium business owners “face the new chapter of this crisis.”


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“It is a decision that we welcome and that responds to a request we made on Dec. 30,” CFIB vice-president François Vincent said in a statement, adding that nearly two out of three small-to-medium businesses in Quebec are experiencing a labour shortage, an issue that is exacerbated among smaller companies.

However, the CFIB pointed out it has been calling for the use of rapid tests for months. Today’s announcement on limiting access to PCR tests to priority groups coupled with the province’s inability to efficiently hand out rapid tests will have a direct impact on small businesses, Vincent said, since anyone with symptoms will be required to isolate (even if they don’t have COVID-19).

“There is an urgent need to rectify the situation,” he said. “We cannot continue like this to restrict businesses, restrict access to PCR tests and not do more to make rapid tests accessible to the population.”


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5 p.m.

More names added to Montreal Canadiens’ COVID-19 protocol list

Five more names have been added to the Montreal Canadiens’ COVID protocol list, La Presse is reporting .

The report says the names are Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Jesse Ylönen, David Savard, Samuel Montembeault and assistant coach Trevor Letowski.

It’s unclear whether they will be back in time to play the team’s Boston game on Jan. 12, given that Quebec just reduced its COVID-19 isolation period to five days for people who’ve received two doses of vaccine.

Those who resume activities after their five-day isolation must not have had a fever for 24 hours and their symptoms must have started to fade, and they are also asked to wear masks and keep their distance for the following five days.


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4:45 p.m.

Pratte: Quebec’s curfew is extreme, but François Legault will get a pass

In his latest column, André Pratte reflects on Quebec’s decision to implement a curfew when other provinces — such as neighbouring Ontario — have not added such drastic measures.

Read the column here .

2:15 p.m.

Quebec universities delay return to in-person schooling

Many Montreal universities plan to do remote learning until later than the Jan. 17 return date announced by the provincial government at its last press conference.

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), for its part, announced on Tuesday remote learning will take place until Jan. 24, while the Université Laval announced on Monday classes will likely remain online until Jan. 31.


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Following the government’s press conference announcing the delay to in-person classes, McGill University announced learning will be remote until Jan. 24.

1:45 p.m.

Quebecers told to hold off on booster if they’ve had COVID-19

Quebecers who have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and subsequently tested positive for the virus should wait before booking an appointment for a booster until the data becomes clearer, experts say.

Many seem to be in this predicament amid a surge in Omicron variant cases.

“Unfortunately scientific data is not clear on the issue,”said Dr. Cécile Tremblay of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). “We have to wait for the results of studies comparing the immune response of these people versus a third dose. In the meantime, it’s preferable to wait” before seeking a third dose.

Read our full story here .

1 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gets COVID-19 booster shot at Ottawa pharmacy

From the Canadian Press: 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined the ranks of Canadians who are rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 booster shots, receiving his third shot at an Ottawa pharmacy this morning.

The prime minister arrived around 8 a.m. and could be seen chatting with the pharmacist as the shot was prepared.

Afterwards, the prime minister flashed a thumbs up to the cameras and urged Canadians to get vaccinated.


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Provinces have been racing to deliver booster shots as COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations continue to surge to new heights.

Many have also chosen to delay the beginning of in-person schooling in the new year in an effort to limit the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

11:50 a.m.

Quebec reduces COVID-19 isolation period to five days, reserves PCR testing for priority groups

Vaccinated Quebecers who test positive for COVID-19 will only need to isolate for five days following the start of their symptoms in certain scenarios, Quebec announced Tuesday.

The modified directive comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the isolation period to five days last week, with the province of Ontario following suit just a few days later.


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At a technical briefing on Tuesday, Marie-France Raynault, senior strategic medical adviser for the Quebec Health Ministry, said the new directive is necessary amid an increasing staff shortage in many critical sectors.

“And also because of the accumulation of evidence that transmission happens before the arrival of symptoms and immediately after,” she said.

The measure will apply to people who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine and whose symptoms have started to fade after five days. They must not have had a fever for 24 hours.

Those people can resume regular activities, but they must wear a mask and maintain two metres of distance from other people for the following five days. They’re being asked not to visit vulnerable people during that time.


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“We have to do with the resources that we have,” Raynault said. “It’s currently impossible for us to give PCR tests to everyone who should have one according to our former rules. We don’t have a choice to adapt.”

The province is considering adding a requirement to test negative using a rapid test after five days of isolation to resume activities — which is recommended by the CDC — but Raynault said Quebec can’t do that until everyone has access to the tests.

Those who are unvaccinated will need to continue isolating for 10 days. Vaccinated people who do not fit the above criteria will need to continue isolating until their symptoms start to fade and they haven’t had a fever for 24 hours.

The new guidelines won’t apply to health-care workers who are in contact with patients, who follow different rules announced last week . However, those who don’t work closely with patients will follow the rules announced today.


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Quebec said it will add new guidelines for children in the coming days.

Raynault also announced Quebec is reserving PCR testing for specific groups moving forward as it continues to struggle to meed demand.

Here are those groups:

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Emergency service patients
  • Health-care workers in contact with patients
  • Staff, residents, and caregivers in hospitals, long-term care homes, group homes, shelters, prisons
  • Homeless people or people in precarious living situations
  • Indigenous communities
  • Asymptomatic people in hospitals, long-term care and other care homes

“We think that with these priorities we could cut the demand in half, which is what we’re hoping for in testing centres,” Raynault said. “We unfortunately can’t offer PCR tests to everyone.”


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People who are not on in a priority group are being asked to use rapid tests. Those who don’t have access to rapid tests but who have symptoms consistent with those of COVID-19 are being asked to consider themselves positive and to isolate.

High risk contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19 — such as people who live in the same household, couples who don’t live together or sexual partners — are being asked to isolate themselves in the same way as the positive case.

“We know transmission is highest with at-home contacts,” Raynault said.

Moderate contacts — who’ve been exposed to a case outside the high risk category for more than 15 minutes without a mask — are being asked to monitor their symptoms for 10 days. They don’t have to isolate if they’re vaccinated.


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11 a.m.

Quebec reports 14,494 cases, 21 deaths as hospitalizations surge

Quebec reported another 14,494 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 665,822. Of them, 108,878 are active.

The province also reported that another 21 deaths had been attributed to the virus, bringing that total to 11,781.

Hospitalizations in Quebec increased by 196, bringing the total to 1,592. Of them, 185 are in intensive care — an increase of four.

With 1,407 hospitalizations outside of intensive care, Quebec has surpassed its Level 3 capacity for regular hospital beds, which was 1,252. It remains within Level 2 for intensive care beds, which has a capacity of 244. The levels represent the extent to which Quebec has to reorganize resources — such as by postponing surgeries — to make room for COVID-19 patients.


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Quebec reported that it analyzed 46,999 COVID-19 samples on Sunday. The province’s positivity rate for COVID-19 stands at 28.1 per cent.

There are 1,355 active outbreaks of COVID-19 across the province.

On Monday, Quebec administered 69,983 vaccine doses.

Since the start of its vaccination campaign, the province has received 17,734,785 doses of which it has administered 15,206,020.

Of the new cases reported in Quebec on Tuesday, 4,085 were in Montreal.

A total of 219,919 infections have now been confirmed in the Montreal region.

10:30 a.m.

School daycare services available for essential workers: Education Ministry

Quebec’s Education Ministry is reminding parents who work in essential services that school daycare services are available until the return to in-person classes on Jan. 17.


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Parents who are able to keep their children at home are being asked to do so, but those who have no choice can use daycare services at their children’s school. Priority is being given to health-care workers, but schools have received a list of other professions considered essential as well.

Quebec announced the delay of the return to in-person schooling last week along with a number of other measures amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the province.

10:15 a.m.

Quebec adds restrictions in CHSLDs, RPAs

From Presse Canadienne: 

Quebec is tightening measures again to limit the spread of COVID-19 in CHSLDs, intermediate resources and RPAs.

Only caregivers will be permitted to visit the establishments. In CHSLDs and intermediate resources housing seniors, a single caregiver will be admitted per day. In RPAs, just one caregiver will be permitted at a time for a maximum of two per day.


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The care homes will need to ask residents to identify a maximum of four caregivers in order to limit visitors. In all homes, caregivers will need vaccine passports to visit residents.

The province specified the measures are being added in the context of an increase in homes with at least 10 COVID-positive residents.

The Health Ministry said there are 2,640 active cases of COVID-19 across 521 care homes.

10 a.m.

Two Quebec men fined for curfew breaches, one for speeding

Two men were fined for breaking Quebec’s curfew while driving to visit one of their girlfriends at 1:40 a.m. on Monday, police in MRC des Collines said.

The driver was fined another $3,500 for speeding, driving in the wrong direction and crossing a double line.


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Read our full story here .

9:45 a.m.

Quebecers 55 and up now eligible for COVID-19 boosters

Quebec’s booster campaign is moving to the general population today, beginning with those 55 and up.

All adults will be eligible to book their third COVID-19 vaccine dose by Jan. 21.

Read our full story here .

9:30 a.m.

Quebec liquor, cannabis stores to require vaccine passport: report

Quebecers may need to show their vaccine passports at liquor and cannabis stores in Quebec soon, according to Le Journal de Montréal.

Citing anonymous government sources on Tuesday, the report said the decision comes as COVID-19 cases continue to soar and the public pressures the government to crack down on the unvaccinated.

Read our full story here .


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9:15 a.m.

A guide to COVID-19 vaccinations in Quebec

Local health authorities have set up vaccination sites across Montreal.

You can book appointments via   the Clic Santé website   or by phone at 1-877-644-4545.

Quebecers can also visit   walk-in AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer vaccine clinics   .

Here are the nuts and bolts of getting vaccinated   , by Katherine Wilton. Her guide includes the age groups targeted, how to book appointments, and addresses of vaccination centres.

9:15 a.m.

Here are the current pandemic restrictions in Montreal and Quebec

We are regularly updating our guide to what services are open, closed or modified in Montreal and Quebec.

You can read it here.

9:15 a.m.

Here’s where Montrealers can get tested today

Montrealers can be screened at   test centres   across the island.

For other parts of Quebec,   check out this page on the Quebec government’s site   .

8:30 a.m.

Sign up for our free nightly coronavirus newsletter

Stay informed with our daily email newsletter focused on local coronavirus coverage and other essential news, delivered directly to your email inbox by 7 p.m. on weekdays.

You can   sign up here   .



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