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Friday, September 24, 2021

Coronavirus live updates: Quebec reports 699 new cases — most since May

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The rise in cases comes as the minister for higher education says vaccines won’t be mandated for university students.

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This article will be updated throughout the day on Sept. 2, 2021.

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Questions/comments: drudin@postmedia.com


Top stories

  • Quebec reports 699 new cases
  • No vaccine mandates on university campuses, McCann says
  • Most Montrealers ready to return to the office: poll

1:00 p.m.

Flawed, disorganized senior care contributed to first wave death toll in Quebec: report

Poorly organized services for seniors in long-term care homes, a lack of reliable data and the absence of a real strategy all contributed to the first wave death toll in Quebec, according to a preliminary report from Quebec’s health care commissioner.

Joanne Castonguay is investigating how the health care system performed during the first wave.

In the preliminary report released Thursday she says the flaws identified have been known for years but not addressed by successive governments who paid “little attention” to the problems — even as the province’s population ages.

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Read the full story here.


12:40 p.m.

Want to access KPMG’s offices? You’ll need to be fully vaccinated

Full vaccination will be required for all employees in KPMG offices as well as any visitors to the premises, the company said in a statement Thursday.

The accounting firm, which has offices in Montreal, the South Shore, T.M.R. and Quebec City, said the policy will go into effect Oct. 1.

Quebec Premier François Legault has previously said that employers can demand that workers get vaccinated.

Last week, he suggested employers could use VaxiCode Vérif to check their workers’ vaccination passports.


12:20 p.m.

One more day until the vaccine lottery’s grand prize is drawn

If you have a certain song by the Barenaked Ladies stuck in your head today, it’s possibly because the $1-million grand prize for Quebec’s vaccine lottery will be drawn tomorrow.

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While inflation has changed what you can buy with the prize since “If I Had $1,000,000” came out in 1992, we can report that the you can still buy “a nice chesterfield or an ottoman” with the prize or choose to eat Kraft Dinner for, well, dinner.

Quebecers 18 and older who were fully vaccinated — either with both doses or with one dose if they had previously been infected — by August 31 are eligible for the grand prize.

Yesterday, the health ministry reported that 4,324,452 people had signed up for the vaccine lottery, which will also be drawing 16 scholarships worth $20,000 each for minors tomorrow.


12:00 p.m.

Dubé reacts to the latest case numbers

“While fourth-wave cases are higher than at the beginning of the second wave,” the Quebec health minister tweeted Thursday morning, “hospitalizations and deaths are clearly lower.”

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The difference, he said, is the mass immunization campaign: “Every additional vaccine makes a real difference.”

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For a more detailed breakdown of today’s numbers, scroll down to the 11:00 a.m. entry.


11:45 a.m.

Limited crowd, vaccines required for Habs scrimmage at Bell Centre

The Montreal Canadiens (remember them?) will return to the Bell Centre on Sept. 26 or a Red vs. White scrimmage.

Due to provincial health measures, only 7,500 fans will be allowed to attend and proof of vaccination must be shown at the door. (Arenas where sports are held are among the places deemed non-essential and therefore covered by Quebec’s vaccine passport.)

The proceeds from the game, for which tickets are being sold at $10 apiece, will be split between local charities.

Read the full story here.


11:00 a.m.

Quebec reports 699 new cases

Quebec reported 699 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday — the largest single-day tally since mid-May.

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At 571, the seven-day rolling average for new infections is at its highest point in more than three months.

A total of 390,613 infections have now been confirmed in the province since the first one was reported in February of 2020.

Quebec also announced that one more fatalities had been attributed to the virus, bringing the province’s death toll to 11,289.

The number of hospitalizations due to the virus now remained stable at 138. Of those patients, 42 are in intensive care — an increase of two.

22,128 tests were conducted Tuesday, the last day for which screening data is available.

On Wednesday, Quebec administered 20,952 vaccine doses.

Since the start of its vaccination campaign, the province has received 14,045,495 doses of which it has administered 12,389,585.

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Of the new cases reported in Quebec on Thursday, 232 were in Montreal.

A total of 138,340 infections have now been confirmed in the Montreal region.


10:40 a.m.

No mandatory vaccinations on university campuses: McCann

Amid rising calls for more health measures on university campuses, Danielle McCann stood by the Quebec government’s position that vaccines shouldn’t be mandatory on university or CEGEP campuses.

“The position of public health is that education is an essential service so we’re not going on that road of asking for mandatory vaccinations for students,” the minister for higher education said at a Thursday morning press conference in Montreal.

On Wednesday, McGill’s student union staged a protest against a return to campus it deemed “unsafe and inaccessible.” The university’s refusal to require proof of vaccination to access the campus was one of their main points of contention.

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McCann was also asked whether Premier François Legault’s seeming openness to employers testing their workers extended to universities.

“I don’t think we can make an equation between establishments like universities and CEGEPs and private enterprises,” she said. “Education is an essential service.”

McCann was in Montreal to announce the province’s plans to help with university and CEGEP students’ academic success and mental health.

“We saw that the mental health of our students was affected by the pandemic,” the minister for higher education said at a press conference in Montreal. “So we’re investing $60 million over five years

While the mental health needs of postsecondary students are longstanding, McCann noted that the pandemic had “exacerbated” the situation.

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Separately, the province plans to invest $450 million over the next five years to help postsecondary students stay in school and succeed.

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10:15 a.m.

Most Montrealers are ready to return to the office, poll suggests

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Sixty-eight per cent of respondents in a Léger marketing survey conducted for the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal said they are now comfortable returning to the office.

As in the previous version of the survey conducted in June, respondents preferred a hybrid return to the office with a mix of in-person and remote work.

One wrinkle: While respondents were comfortable with returning to the office, 70 per cent were concerned about the possibility of returning alongside unvaccinated people.

Read the full story here.


9:50 a.m.

Feed people; starve the virus

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, why not take that route to encourage vaccinations?

Some restaurants south of the border have been giving away free food and booze to encourage hesitant members of the public to get vaccinated.

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Amie Watson proposes adopting that strategy in food-loving Quebec and talks to some restaurateurs about the idea. (They’re split on the idea.)

Read the full story here.


9:40 a.m.

Canada donating 1.3 million more doses via COVAX

The first shipments of AstraZeneca doses are due to arrive in Nigeria, Kenya and Niger today.

Canada signed on to the global vaccine-sharing program from the World Health Organization last September.

Earlier this year, Canada faced criticism for being one of the few wealth countries to procure doses from COVAX’s supply.

Read the full story here.


9:30 a.m.

How did the first day of Quebec’s vaccine passport go?

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Smoothly…for the most part.

There were some glitches and frustrations on Wednesday morning as the proof-of-vaccination requirement for non-essential places and activities was rolled out, but businesses and customers largely managed to adapt to it.

“It’s a bit of a constraint, but I understand the government’s stance in trying to make things as safe as possible,” said Thomas Resendes, a manager at the Cora breakfast restaurant on Drummond St. “We just work with whatever we’re given.”

Read the full story here.


9:20 a.m.

Here are the current vaccine passport guidelines in Quebec

We have an updated guide explaining what proof of vaccination you need to show and where you must show it.

You can read it here.


9:15 a.m.

What’s happening across Canada?

From the federal government’s last epidemiological update, here’s the rate of cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days:

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9:00 a.m.

Here are the current pandemic restrictions in Montreal and Quebec

We are regularly updating our list of what services are open, closed or modified in Montreal and Quebec, including information on the curfew and other lockdown measures.

You can read it here.


9:00 a.m.

Here’s where Montrealers can get tested today

Montrealers can be screened at test centres across the island.

You can check screening clinic wait times here.


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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