The Quebec government is extending the province’s mask mandate until at least the end of April amid a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“We do not want to expect that masks will be needed after the month of April,” said interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau Tuesday. “Right now, it’s something that is not curving on the right side, it’s still going up, so let’s face the situation. Let’s be prudent with that but the expectation is not to continue with it [the masks] for a long time.”
Quebec is currently in the midst of a sixth COVID-19 wave.
Over the next few weeks, Boileau says he expects to see a rise in both cases and hospitalizations across the province.
“The pandemic is not over, it’s still here,” he said, adding that vaccination remains an effective way to protect oneself from dire consequences.
Hospitalizations are continuing to spike in Quebec, with an increase of 72 reported Tuesday by the province, bringing the total number to 1,479.
Right now, only Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nunavut still require people to wear masks in public places, with the latter two scheduled to end their mandates within the next week.
Some provinces have resisted calls to prolong or reimpose some public health restrictions, such as mask mandates, despite the fact that cases have started rising in some parts of the country.
“We don’t really know how the [Omicron variant] BA.2 will play out and it’s very clear that it is now predominating over BA.1,” said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). “We know that BA.2 is much more contagious than BA.1. They’re even hearing in other parts of the world that there are sort of hybrids between BA.1 and BA.2 forming, which are even a little bit more contagious.”
Quebec’s interim public health director estimates that 75 per cent of new cases are the Omicron BA.2 subvariant.
Tuesday, Boileau took the opportunity to remind Quebecers that they must isolate for five days as soon as they either test positive or show symptoms of COVID-19.
“You can be contagious for a period of 10 days,” he said. “That’s not the time to go to a restaurant, it’s not time to go to a show, it’s not time to do sports or invite people over to your house.”
Starting Wednesday, Quebecers aged 70 and up will be able to register for their fourth dose of a COVID-19 booster dose on Clic Santé.
Boileau noted at least three months must have passed since the third dose, though the recommendation is four to five months before receiving another booster.