Speaker 1: (02:47)
So hello, everyone, and welcome to this press conference for as a Premier of Quebec, Mr. François Legault, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, and the National Director of Public Health of Quebec, Dr. Horacio Arruda. Mr. Premier, the word is yours.
Premier Francois Legault: (03:04)
Yes. Hello, everyone. Yesterday, we had 1,490 new cases, 12 new deaths, of which six only here in the City of Quebec, the national capital area. Six deaths, six new deaths yesterday in Quebec City. So if there’s anybody in Quebec City, amongst other places, who think that COVID is nothing serious, six new deaths in one single day. I think that we have to look at the facts and be very, very prudent. Yesterday, the Minister of Health and the National Director of Public Health, we had an important meeting with the experts from the INSPQ and the other experts at Public Health to try to have projections over the next few weeks. What we can see is that the situation remains serious, and unfortunately there is a risk that it will worsen over the next few weeks. For the time being, we have 643 hospitalizations, but when we look a little bit at what is going on elsewhere, it is very worrying. I’ll just give you a few numbers.
Premier Francois Legault: (04:19)
In France right now, 29,000 Hospitalizations. In Italy, 32,000 hospitalizations. In New York, 4,800 hospitalizations. Closer to us, even in Ontario, there are now at 1,800 hospitalizations, and I’d like to remind you that we are at 643. So when we look at what is happening elsewhere, we can in fact wonder whether that is what is expecting us over the next few weeks. First, it is important to say that there are three regions that worry us really where things are very serious. So first, here in the national capital area, only in the past two days, we had a net increase of 15 hospitalizations. The other region that concerns us a great deal is the Ottawa region where we had in the past two days 13 hospitalizations net extra ones, and in the [foreign language 00:05:25], which is a region that is smaller. And the problem is not only [foreign language 00:05:32], there’s a lot of problems in [inaudible 00:05:34], and over the past two days, we’ve had five new hospitalizations.
Premier Francois Legault: (05:37)
So when we look at the increase in cases over the past few weeks, we may think that in those three regions the hospitalization rate is going to continue increasing. And it is in those three regions that keeping proportions in mind we have the greatest number of active cases. So [foreign language 00:06:04]. So I’m announcing to you right away that we are going to delay for a further week the emergency measures, so up until the 25th of April. That means essentially three big measures. The curfew at 8:00 p.m., non-essential stores remain closed, and all schools remain closed in all three of those regions. We’re also extending the [inaudible 00:06:33] a little bit because we’ve realized that over the past few days in the Ottawa region and in [foreign language 00:06:40] things have really spread out, not only in a few cities, but all over the territory. So as of tomorrow evening at 8:00 p.m. for the curfew and as of Thursday for schools in the entire Ottawa region and all of [foreign language 00:06:55] things will be closed.
Premier Francois Legault: (06:59)
In Quebec City, there’s an increase in [foreign language 00:07:04], but it’s still under control and it remains low in [foreign language 00:07:09]. So we’re keeping the same region that we had for the national capital area. The other two regions that worry us are Montreal and Laval. So in total, there are five regions that we are keeping a very close eye on. Montreal and Laval, the number of cases is high. I am coming back to what I said earlier on. When we look at the new caseload active, it’s the fourth and fifth regions, Montreal and Laval. So after Quebec City, [foreign language 00:07:42]. But the number of cases remains stable. So high, but stable. There is no increase. So for the time being, for the Montreal and Laval areas, we’re keeping the curfew at 8:00 p.m., but for the time being, we are leaving non-essential stores and schools open.
Premier Francois Legault: (08:04)
Of course, we particularly wish for schools to be able to remain open as long as possible, but it is not impossible that over the following weeks very dense regions like Montreal and Laval that we are forced to go further. For the time being, however, we are just going to keep the 8 p.m. curfew. We can also see that in the surroundings of Montreal, [foreign language 00:08:29], the 450 area, there is an increase of sorts that we’re keeping a very close eye on. There is one region that was yellow, that was [foreign language 00:08:46], that we are now bringing to orange, because there is an increase in cases. And perhaps just to specify, which is something that I hadn’t done last week, and I do apologize for that, the regions that are yellow, so [foreign language 00:09:01], Quebec, [foreign language 00:09:02], even though it’s going back to orange, but those three regions, we forbid people from other regions to go there. We’re not going to start putting police officers all over the place, but it is forbidden.
Premier Francois Legault: (09:18)
So only essential travel is allowed. We’re asking people to respect that. And yes, you could get a fine if you end up in one of those three regions without a good reason for being there. In all of Quebec, in all 17 regions, the situation is still fragile because of the presence of variants among other things. And I’d liked to emit a reminder. When we look at what is going elsewhere, we could even consider ourselves lucky that a part of our territory is not in the grips of variants, but no place is safe from this in the upcoming days and weeks. So we have to remain extremely prudent everywhere, all of us. When I say everywhere and everyone, I want to take some time to talk about younger people. We’ll remember that in the first wave, especially the first wave, the vast, vast majority of people who were infected and who were hospitalized were people 60, 65, and over. Right now in our hospitals, when we look at the people who come in, there is a majority of them who are people who are not yet 60 or 65 years of age. So maybe 50, 55. Of course, if they come to the hospital it’s because they have pretty serious problems. Experts don’t know if it’s because of the variant or is it just because there’s more spread? But what we’ve seen when we say that there are more young people, it’s not just in percentage, but in absolute numbers. The number of young people has doubled. So if we compare ourselves with the peak that we had in the first wave, there is a net increase. Raw, absolute, call it whatever you will, it’s not just in percentage of hospitalizations, there is an increase in the number of young people and the consequences are serious. So we’re talking here in certain cases, longterm consequences of headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of the sense of smell, difficulties in concentration.
Premier Francois Legault: (11:42)
So you’ve seen as I have that in Quebec City, a 24 year old woman, who in a few days lost 40 pounds, who had to be forced, and who is going to need months before she can learn to eat again. This morning, we could see in the media, a man who is 36 in [foreign language 00:12:04], who has been there for about 10 days, who is no longer able to walk, because as soon as he stands up, he’s dizzy. So it really is possible for young people, 20, 30, 40, 50 to catch COVID and to have very serious consequences and what that means. Unfortunately, it pushes back the moment at which we believe that we’ll be able to come back to normalcy. Remember, we said that once the older amongst us are going to be vaccinated, things are going to be changing a lot, except that now the portrait has changed itself in younger people. There’s a lot more young people who are being hospitalized.
Premier Francois Legault: (12:51)
That means that the 24th of June remains like the date at which we can hope to start thinking about normality for two reasons. Of course, vaccination is going very well. And all co-packers who want to be vaccinated will be able to be vaccinated by the 24th of June. And, of course, we’ll see what we manage to do with schools. We would like to keep the schools open everywhere for as long as possible. But as long as the school year won’t be over, so around the 24th of June, there will be contagion in schools that will be affecting people who live with those children. So we might think that there’s a lot of uncertainty for the upcoming two months. So we have two heavy months ahead of us. I find it terrible to say this. I would much prefer to be telling you that we have a few difficult weeks ahead of us, but we have with the variant and with the presence of COVID in younger people and hospitalizations in younger people, we have two big months ahead of us.
Premier Francois Legault: (14:09)
To end with, I’d like to talk to young adults. Not those that went to Old Montreal and did vandalism, but the other ones. I understand that you’re tired. I was once 20, and when you’re 20, you want to go out with your friends and have fun, and already for a year, we’ve asked you for a lot. So I don’t want to say anything other than I’m very grateful for what young people have done for the past year, but it has to be understood that we’ve been saying for a year, “Show solidarity for older people,” but right now, it is your health that is at risk. So without meaning to lecture you, there are young adults that are going to the hospital and have serious consequences. You have to be careful with your health. We have 73 days ahead of us before all adults be vaccinated, all those who wish to be. So I want to say, be prudent.
Premier Francois Legault: (15:20)
To end with, because there’s a lot of people who talked about it, yes, it happened after the press conference, whether it be the CNESST or the Public Health, and I had not seen that. Because of the presence of the variants, masks outside are mandatory. There are two exceptions to this. If you are alone or with people with whom you live, you don’t have to have a mask. And what Public Health is telling us is that if you have a picnic of a maximum of eight people, once you are seated two meters away, you don’t need to keep the mask on. Those are the only two-
Premier Francois Legault: (16:03)
You don’t need to keep the mask on. Those are the only two exceptions. So when you are alone with people, with whom you live, or once you are seated in a park, two meters away from anybody else, that is when you can remove your mask.
Premier Francois Legault: (16:13)
The rest of the time, when there’s other people around you, even if there’s only one person who doesn’t live with you, now the mask is mandatory. So I understand that the measures are changing a lot, but the situation is changing a lot as well. So I would like to end by saying that freedom is, of course, more than ever, it means vaccination. Vaccination for everyone. So not only for those older, but vaccination as well for the younger amongst us. Yesterday, we reach an important milestone. Thanks to the good organization we have, now 2 million Quebecers who have been vaccinated. And we always have as a target, and we are convinced, that all those who wish to be vaccinated by the 24th of June will be able to receive a vaccine. So that means that we have 73 days left and after that it will be summer. So I thank you, everyone.
François Legault: (17:16)
Good afternoon, everyone. The situation is serious and could continue to worsen. We have three regions where the situation is worrying. Quebec, [foreign language 00:17:30] and Ottawa. That is why I’m announcing that emergency measures will continue in these three regions until April 25. Starting tomorrow at 8:00 PM the measures will also apply in the entire regions of Ottawa and [foreign language 00:17:51].
François Legault: (17:53)
We’re still monitoring the situation in Montreal and Navarre very closely. The number of cases is high, but it’s stable. There’s an increase of cases in Dakota now. So that’s why the region will turn to RN zone. I repeat that this situation is fragile everywhere in Quebec. With the variant, no region is immune. Everyone must stay very careful. We have to be patient until June 24.
François Legault: (18:27)
Have a message for young people who have had enough of the pandemic. I understand what you’re going through. I know how important social life and friends can be at your age. I’m not judging you. On the contrary, we must recognize all the efforts you made in the past year. But more and more young people are getting sick. So please follow the rules to protect you. All Quebecers will be able to get vaccinated before June 24. We have to resist for 73 more days. I’m counting on you all. Thank you.
Premier Francois Legault: (19:10)
Thank you very much. We’ll now be starting with the question period with Patrice [inaudible 00:19:20].
François Legault: (19:23)
[foreign language 00:19:23].
Premier Francois Legault: (19:23)
First, I would like to make sure you gave all the important information in your presentation and that we’re not going to learn it by communique later. Is there anything else that you wanted to say?
Premier Francois Legault: (19:37)
Well, last week I judged forbidding going to the three yellow zones, we already had a lot of announcements to make. So I’m the one who made the decision to not say it, but the decision concerning the mask last week, the decision from the CNESST took place after my press conference. So I am completely transparent. I give you all the important information and I will continue doing so.
Premier Francois Legault: (20:07)
So you didn’t know for the decision of forcing people to wear masks outside before the press conference that you held?
Premier Francois Legault: (20:14)
I was not aware. No. So I missed that. Perhaps it had been said to me, but I was not aware.
Speaker 3: (20:26)
[foreign language 00:20:26].
Premier Francois Legault: (20:26)
Mr. Premiere, in that, do you find that when measures like this take place after, like wearing the mask, that there’s a risk that people will not follow because the message is not well received?
Premier Francois Legault: (20:41)
What we’re saying is that when we are with somebody else, with whom you do not live, you should wear the mask. It is not something that is new. So yes, there was, at one point, a time when we said, if you’re going to go for a walk with one person it’s okay. But with the variant, what I’ve understood is that public health has said, even if you’re only with one other person wear a mask.
Speaker 2: (21:08)
[foreign language 00:21:08]
Premier Francois Legault: (21:11)
Mr. Lugo, if we both decide to go play golf together, we should wear the mask. If we go to a park where the problem is right now in Montreal, and we sit, we don’t wear the mask. At some point, isn’t that what the problem is? It’s not equal everywhere.
Premier Francois Legault: (21:29)
Well, maybe Dr. Arruda can explain. I mean, I can understand that when you are immobile two meters away, it’s one thing.
Premier Francois Legault: (21:36)
But yeah, that’s exactly what the situation is. First, we have to understand that this is situated or has do with the variants. It’s very transmissible. And we know that human beings are socialable people. It’s very difficult to maintain a two meter distance. Particularly if you’re moving, like when you’re walking, you get closer to the person, et cetera. And third, the only exceptions are, in fact, when you seated in a bench, say two meters away from somebody that you’re not going to move, you’re not going to go closer to the person. That’s when you can remove the mask. And if you are around a place where you can be fixed two meters away to be able to eat, have a picnic, well, then you remove the mask. So it’s a little bit in that perspective. And when you play golf, you’re not going to necessarily have the two meter distance between yourselves. It’s too easy to get close to one another. And you only have to look at how people behave in the street to understand the reason why we’re adding that element with the perspective of the variant.
Speaker 4: (22:30)
[foreign language 00:22:30]
Premier Francois Legault: (22:30)
Mr. Lugo, you had projections made by the INSPQ, from what I understand, as it happens every week. We also understand that what is worrisome are the hospitalizations. I understand that the number of cases is going to bring two more hospitalizations. As of when, according to the projections that you’ve had, is the health network going to be overloaded?
Speaker 4: (23:02)
[foreign language 00:23:02]
Premier Francois Legault: (23:02)
And get to the stage where we’re going to have to postpone even more treatments than we have now.
Premier Francois Legault: (23:11)
I would say that, first of all, there’s no simple answer because when I look at the projections from the INSPQ and the ENS, they don’t have necessarily the same projections. Secondly, the projections are made in two regions, the greater Montreal area and the rest of Quebec. But the situation is a lot more complex than that. As I said, there are three regions that are in the rest of Quebec, outside of Montreal, that are particularly fragile, difficult, worrisome, but we do not have, as such, any projections because the number isn’t high enough to adjust for those three regions. So that is why there is no easy answer. We can see that we have some leeway in the greater Montreal area for the time being, but we also see that it’s going to be very tight in the rest Quebec.
Speaker 4: (23:59)
[foreign language 00:23:59]
Premier Francois Legault: (23:59)
You also said that the 24th of June was the target date to be able to come back to some kind of normalcy. The Grand Prix du Canada is on the 13th of June.
Speaker 4: (24:14)
[foreign language 00:24:14]
Premier Francois Legault: (24:14)
Do you think that it’s possible to hold that event, taking into account, on the one hand, that it involves 2000 people who, previously, are going to be somewhere in Europe?
Premier Francois Legault: (24:26)
I think bringing them before them doing the two week mandatory quarantine, which as opposed to everyone else who comes here from foreign lands. So on the public health plan, would it be a good idea to do that? What kind of message would it send out? And should we agree to the financial demands of the organizers?
Premier Francois Legault: (24:48)
Well, as you say, there are two decisions. One is a health public health decision that is by the Quebec and Canada public health. And it’s up to them, up to the experts to answer that question. And there is the financial aspect where we are told that because there won’t be any spectators, there would have to be a compensation from the government. And we already have given quite a lot already. The worry that we have is that if we don’t have the Grans Prix in 2021, what will happen in 2022, between 2022 and ’29, because let’s not forget that the Grand Prix is the event, whether it’s about the most real economic fall outs, because that is money that comes from foreign lands that is spent here in Quebec. And, of course, we always make sure that the help that is given is inferior to the real economic…
Speaker 2: (25:49)
[foreign language 00:25:49]
Premier Francois Legault: (25:49)
… Advantages in Quebec. And there’re no conclusions on that right now.
Speaker 2: (25:53)
[foreign language 00:25:53]
Premier Francois Legault: (25:53)
Do you think it’s a good idea, Mr. Arruda?
Premier Francois Legault: (26:02)
As far as holding the event closed off as such, there is a way of holding it as far as we’re concerned in terms of public health, with very specific measures. As far as importing the virus by people who would come and not quarantine, those are discussions that are ongoing right now between Quebec and Canada, who is responsible for setting up the quarantine. There will be evaluations that will be made in order to be able to do a risk analysis and see whether there would be a way of having a closed off F1 without causing any prejudice to public health. As I said, the rest is being discussed with the federal government.
Premier Francois Legault: (26:45)
Thank you, Dr. Arruda.
Speaker 5: (26:46)
[foreign language 00:26:46]
Premier Francois Legault: (26:46)
You said early on, Mr. Lugo, you were not aware for the mask outside during the press conference. I just want to bring a clarification that in your press release right after, public health is telling us that basically will be as of two people. So that means that public health has specified that a couple, two people who do not live in that at the same address, won’t be able to walk together without having a mask will have to wear the mask outside, but inside they don’t have to. So there’s a bit of an incoherence here and that measure might have not put oil on the fire. Well, now you’re giving me a very specific example. That means that that has a lack of coherence, ideally, generally, except for exceptions, we believe that taking into account the fact that there’re the variants and that there’s a very important transmissibilities. We only have to look here. There are cases everywhere in Quebec city because of the variant. As soon as you come from another bubble as such, the risk is significant. And even outside, you can walk and be closer to two meters and that’s why we said that. The objective right now is to protect people, not to annoy them. We can see cases in younger people. People end up being hospitalized very quickly, even in ICU care. And in that context, we consider that the prejudice of wearing a mask compared to the protection that it can bring is worth it. And that is our recommendation.
Premier Francois Legault: (28:29)
So I understand that a couple is still going to have to wear the mask outside. Now we found out that there was a first case of thrombosis following the Astrazeneca vaccine. And we also found out this morning that Washington decided that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that they were putting it on hold for the time being. What about our objective of the 24th of June of vaccinating everyone with that new information?
Premier Francois Legault: (28:56)
Well, concerning the case of thrombosis, as I was saying, we will have at least for the next few minutes, that will be explaining that situation. I believe that the good news is the kind of event that unfortunately we were expecting, because we knew that there was going to be that. But we also knew that it was going to stay if it remained within the parameters that were known. So I think that the good news is that the lady in question is now going, she was cared for it and she is doing well. But all these events, what we’re doing right now, is hyper vigilance. And it’s important to say so. We are following everything that has to do with vaccination. The cases that could be brought back, that is a first case. And I believe that that is why we had asked people to be very conscious of the situation. But we’re talking here, once again, this is a very good example, we have over 100,000 people who have been vaccinated in the past five days, and we’re talking about one case here and the person is going well. So we can have a protocol now that we will apply if there is a case of thrombosis because we’re following things very closely. So it’s not a surprise in the sense that those events, it can take place. Now, as far as everything that it can do in terms of our timeline is to make it tighter.
Premier Francois Legault: (30:25)
So, if you’d give me about 30 seconds, I’m going to give you a few key numbers. Today the good news and the very good news is that we have 2 million Quebecers that are vaccinated as of the 13th of April. By the end of may, so in the seven upcoming weeks, we will be receiving between 2.2 million vaccinations, excluding any new Astrazeneca or Johnson and Johnson vaccine. So 2 million people vaccinated up until now, 2.2, by the end of May. And in June, we will be receiving 4 million doses. Because that is the month, of every month, that is when we’re going to be receiving very large quantities of a Pfizer and Moderna vaccine.
Premier Francois Legault: (31:15)
So today that Johnson & Johnson not be there, we still have no problems in being able to reach our objective of of 5.3 million by the end of June. That’s clear unless those vaccines don’t arrive, but it’s not Johnson & Johnson that is going to make the difference. So what we’re saying is we have to continue vaccinating our people who are at risk. That is Categories 8. So chronic people with chronic illnesses. So that’s 500,000 people. And in category nine, our essential workers, professors, teachers, we also have 500,000 people. So when you add those up, those people, 1 million that we have to vaccinate over the next few weeks. And when we look at the number of vaccines that we have.
Premier Francois Legault: (32:03)
Over the next few weeks. And when we look at the number of vaccines that we have, the healthcare workers that remain to be vaccinated, those second doses for people residing in CHSLDs and RPAs, we’re doing very well until the end of May. And that is what allows me to announce to you today that as of tomorrow both categories, categories eight and nine, that is people with chronic illnesses and essential workers, are going to be able to book an appointment everywhere in Quebec as of tomorrow on Clic Santé.
Premier Francois Legault: (32:32)
That is also very good news, which makes it that those people, all the people who have chronic illnesses or who are essential workers, by the 31st of May, they should be vaccinated. And that is what allows us to say once again to people 55 and less, if you want, together at the same time as those people; because now I’ve just said that for this week it’s categories eight and nine mainly that we’re going to be vaccinating, with the health care workers and the second doses. So if you have the opportunity, I mean if you’re lucky and you’re 55 and over, AstraZeneca is for you, and that is why it’s been so popular over the past three days.
Premier Francois Legault: (33:11)
I would like to give you some statistics of the 24th of March, in Ireland it’s 0.1% of the 232,000 cases that were studied over there that come from contamination in the outside. And that statistic, my colleague [Jean-François Blanchet 00:33:33] who gave it to me and who asked, do public health of each of the different regions, so the [inaudible 00:33:39], if in Quebec we had documented cases of contamination or outbreaks that took place outside? And the answer was, we don’t know, we have no idea. So on what scientific basis are you using to wear the mask outside?
Premier Francois Legault: (33:57)
Well, it’s based on the important virulence. We don’t have any controlled studies, no, we haven’t done tests outside. What we do know is that even outside, when you speak, when you sneeze or when you cough you project droplets. If you’re inside of a two meter zone, there’s a risk of exposure. When we make an investigation with a case, people can have been outside, inside in many places. So it becomes difficult. It is with that perspective in mind, as a protective measure. As I was saying, controlled studies are not easy to conduct in this domain, but through a consensus of experts, taking into account the very great transmissibility of the variants, also taking into account the fact that outside less than two meters away, there are droplets in the same way as inside, we have that recommendation that has been given by our experts through consensus. I’d like to have a clarification, Mr. Legault, when you say that we have two important months ahead of us. I don’t want you to repeat that we have to respect the measures, I get it. But I’d like to know, what should we read between the lines? Does that mean that regions are not going to go to a lesser color? That wearing masks outside is going to last two months? Are you telling us in between the lines that the important health measures expect that they’re going to stick around for another two months?
Premier Francois Legault: (35:28)
What I’m saying is that there’s going to be uncertainty up until the 24th of June, mainly for two reasons. First, because not everybody will be vaccinated. And second, because there will still be, we hope, schools open in many regions. So there’s a risk of contamination between the children. I remember that we said not that long ago that once people over 65 were going to be vaccinated, that the situation would be completely different. But now what we’re realizing is that the number of young people that are contaminated, people 30, 40, 50 years of age, has increased significantly over the past few weeks. So we’re now in a situation where as long as those people are not vaccinated; well, we’re in trouble.
Premier Francois Legault: (36:22)
The three regions with reinforced measures, are they going to have tools? More tests, more vaccines? I know that there already had been more vaccines. Is it even more, or what is the way of helping?
Premier Francois Legault: (36:35)
Well, in all three regions we’re talking about, we speak to them regularly every day, in fact, and I’ll just give you an example. In the Outaouais region, where I had said last week that I was going to involve myself personally, to follow that I think that things are already going better. We’ve been able to reduce our delays for results almost at 80% over 48 hours, that’s a big improvement. But there was an adjustment that I appreciate a lot on the side of public health with rapid testing. And I’m going to take maybe just another minute to explain it to you. One of the issues that we had with rapid tests is that we were asked to do a follow-up on the test itself to record it in the screening registry, whereas now, taking into account the increase that we had in those regions, well, we had to not only screen people but do the kind of screening that we call [foreign language 00:37:34] in French. So those are two challenges that we accept in public health.
Premier Francois Legault: (37:38)
So first we’re going to start doing that [foreign language 00:37:41] kind of test only in a certain percentage of tests. So when we have 40,000, that we tested 40,000, well actually it was for 80,000 testing because not only did we do it in a lab, we had to do the [foreign language 00:37:55] test as well. But now there’s so many variants and we know them, we’re going to reduce the number of screening by [foreign language 00:38:02] so that we can have big results. That’s a big change. The second change is that we no longer have the obligation of recording the result of the rapid test. What does that mean? It means they have an outbreak in the Outaouais region, in a school or in a business.
Premier Francois Legault: (38:15)
What I ask people, and the businesses that asked us for rapid testing, is don’t worry about sending us the result. We don’t want to know the result. We just want to know whether the person has tested positive, and now in the case of those who do test positive, go get a PCR test. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s a huge difference. So I’m answering your question, that in the Outaouais is going to make a very important difference, and we’re going to apply it to the different people in public health. And we are going to be applying these new measures that are going to make a great deal of difference in the efficacy because of the variants that have caused us the problems with the [foreign language 00:38:54] that we did not have before.
Premier Francois Legault: (38:56)
And the Quebec, Chaudière-Appalaches and all those regions as well?
Premier Francois Legault: (38:58)
Premier Francois Legault: (38:59)
The protests, Mr. Legault, there’s more announced tonight in Quebec City and Montreal. Somebody who doesn’t break windows, but who goes out at 8:01 PM is the same thing in your mind? I mean, I know that the actions aren’t the same, but for you past 8:00 PM?
Premier Francois Legault: (39:16)
Well, listen, there’s a curfew at 8:00 PM for the good of the public. If people don’t respect the curfew at 8:00 PM, they expose themselves to getting a fine. Now, those who do vandalism, those who break down windows, those people, I think that all Quebecers are shocked to see that. And police officers are going to try to catch them and give them the tickets that they should have.
Premier Francois Legault: (39:50)
Premier Francois Legault: (39:57)
I’d like Mr. Legault to come back to what you were talking about, going back to normality at the end of June thereabouts after the school year. What can we really expect considering that we still need two doses of vaccination, and that this means that it’s not the entire population that will have received a second dose?
Premier Francois Legault: (40:25)
Well, listen, you know that when people have one dose, they are still protected to what? 85% or 90%. So of course, with two doses, there are more protected. What I’m saying is it’s not that all the measures are going to be put away on the 24th of June in the evening. I’m just saying that rather than having a timeline of a few weeks, we have a timeline that is a minimum of a few months before we can get back to more normality. We hope to be able to go gradually throughout those months, but the timeline has been pushed back. That’s what I want to say. Where we thought that we could go back to something more normal once all elderly people would be vaccinated, well, now with the number of young people who end up in hospital, we’re going to have to wait for everyone who wants to be vaccinated to be vaccinated before we can even think of coming back to normality. You’ve seen as I have that Ontario announced the closure of its primary and secondary schools. Could you explain to us why there’s a difference of philosophy? There is a difference in your position as compared to the position of Ontario.
Premier Francois Legault: (41:51)
Well first, Ontario has never had a curfew, whether it be at 8:00 PM or 9:30 PM, and they still don’t. Secondly, we prefer closing down schools where there are problems that are significant. When the situation justifies it, we prefer keeping the schools open. Now it has to also be understood that Ontario was on spring break two weeks, one for Easter and one for the spring break that had been delayed about a month ago. So there is a situation that is different. Yeah. And Ontario, they are now at 1, 800 hospitalizations. So even if you have a rule of three, they’re in a much more difficult situation than we are, and we prefer managing things on a regional basis.
Premier Francois Legault: (42:47)
So week after week, we are pushing back, going back to red for the Quebec region, Chaudière-Appalaches and Outaouais. And it’s now until the 24th of April. But in the meetings that you’re having with Dr. Arruda or with the regional directors of public health, do you really have projections that allow you to believe that on the 25th of April in Quebec City, for example, where the situation seems to be worse than ever, there might be a way of opening back the schools and changing the level?
Premier Francois Legault: (43:17)
Well first, what the experts are saying to us is that it’s difficult to see the impact of the new measures that we’ve set up recently on the projections. So what they’re telling us is that the projections are going to be better next week than they are this week. I see you smile through your mask. But of course, we have to first look at the impact on the cases and then the impact on the hospitalizations. So of course the measures, if we look for example at Chaudière-Appalaches, we set them up three days later than we did in Quebec city; the closure of schools, for example. So we have to give a little bit of time before the projections are more reliable.
Premier Francois Legault: (44:04)
On another subject, we’re learning this morning that tens of thousands of images of juvenile pornography are detected every year on servers that are housed here in Quebec. Can your government do something in those situations, particularly in Quebec companies that have those servers? Proactive research, not waiting to have somebody flag it. Is that something that you’re thinking?
Premier Francois Legault: (44:34)
I think that it is a situation that is unacceptable, and I believe that businesses do have a responsibility. [foreign language 00:44:43] Guilbeault is working on that file, but it is unacceptable and those companies have to face their responsibilities.
Premier Francois Legault: (44:58)
Monsieur Dubé, I was wondering, as far as the private clinics are concerned, why having signed a contract of two years with an increased profit margin, rather than continuing with a three-year?
Premier Francois Legault: (45:15)
Well, in all bargaining that we have, we’re trying to find the best possible arrangement. I can tell you that if the situation were different, we would perhaps be a little bit more independent as far as private clinics are concerned, but it’s not the case. We have to go back to the context. The contracts that we signed have allowed us to increase our capacity in limiting, postponing by 15%, which is huge. So I think that we’ve tried to find the correct balance between what was a reasonable agreement that sometimes it’s the period, sometimes it’s the price, and in certain cases, we’ve tried to find that balance. I’m very, very happy that our people from the ministry were able to bargain close to 22 agreements with the private sector, because right now I can tell you that if there are people who are being treated in the private sector, they’re very happy to not be added to the waiting list. So we try to find the best possible compromise.
Premier Francois Legault: (46:16)
Well, what was blocking things to have a three-year contract? I’m not sure that I understood.
Premier Francois Legault: (46:21)
Well, if you’re telling me that it’s too expensive, I’ll be happy to have signed it only for two years. If you’re telling me that it is the right price, I would have been happy to sign it for three years. It’s always a question of balance between the price and the period. Now we found the compromise that at that price, we were happy to have it for two years. And we signed for two years.
Premier Francois Legault: (46:41)
Mr. Legault, could we think about a vaccination break? Quebec Solidaire is asking for that, because during the day there are more and more appointments that are available who are going towards the more active population. Is that something that would be possible? For example, when we get a four hour break to go vote? Any idea can be a good idea, but we have to make a difference between freeing up an employee for four hours to go vote when there’s only one day to go vote. Here we’re talking about walk-in clinics, we’ve added nighttime clinics, we have clinics with appointments. The vaccination is being done over many weeks. So yes, I understand that some people want to compare that to the moment when we free up an employee to go vote. But I will tell you that what will take place over the next few weeks, and you’ve seen as well the excitement of companies, as of the 1st of May, we’re going to have companies where employees can go get vaccinated directly on their place of work. So when you put all of those factors together, I think that we have given Quebecers a lot of alternatives to get vaccinated.
Premier Francois Legault: (47:51)
Mr. Legault, is it to show solidarity for museums and others who are waiting for their turn to have a Grand Prix, an F1…
Translator (Reporter): (48:01)
… An F1 Grand Prix to take place in Montreal.
Premier Francois Legault: (48:06)
Listen, there’s nothing fixed with F1. The only thing that is interesting to us is that there’d be important economic benefits and spin-offs. And real economic benefits, because that is money that comes from the outside of Quebec. And that’s all.
Premier Francois Legault: (48:27)
And of course, we’re talking of an activity that would take place without any spectators. It’s possible. I admit to you that if it was not a matter of questioning the following years, I don’t see why we would need that this year.
Translator (Moderator): (48:46)
We will now be going to English questions.
Speaker 6: (48:51)
François Legault: (48:53)
Speaker 6: (48:53)
As you recall, you had said a few times that the situation in Laval, in Montreal, you’re watching it carefully. How do you explain that the cases are not rising in those two areas?
Christian Dubé: (49:17)
Maybe the first things I would say is that Quebecers especially in those areas has been very disciplined and have been following the sanitary measures. That’s for one. The second reason is I think santé publique, under the guidance of Dr. Drouin and Dr. Trépanier in Laval have done a tremendous job. I’ve talked about the special measures that they have put with the variants over the last few weeks, that what we call intensive tracing, where not only they trace the contacts, but they trace the contacts of contacts. So I think that they’ve done a tremendous job. So the following of the measures and active tracing that have been done in Montreal and Laval makes that they have been able to so far, and we’ll cross our fingers, but they have done a tremendous job in Montreal.
Speaker 6: (50:23)
And for my second question for the premier, we saw some disgraceful scenes in Old Montreal the last two nights. There’s been vandalism and rioting. Are you worried about the social climate of Quebec and especially in Montreal?
François Legault: (50:36)
Well, first it’s important to repeat that the vast majority of Quebecers support the measures. They don’t like to see that. And I think it’s a very, very small minority of Quebecers doing that. And for now, I think that the situation is under control. And if it happens again, police people will be present.
Merci. Raquel Fletcher, Global News.
Raquel Fletcher: (51:09)
Good afternoon. Does everyone hear me okay?
François Legault: (51:12)
Raquel Fletcher: (51:14)
Okay. My first question is about chronically ill people who need to get their vaccine. There seems to be some confusion about how a chronically ill person can access to vaccine, who is responsible to make the appointment, for instance, the patient or the doctor, and what kind of proof is needed. In other words, what are the criteria for chronic illness and how does it work?
Dr. Horacio Arruda: (51:47)
First of all, there is some chronic disease that will be taking charge by the hospital when they go to their treatments, like people who need hemodialysis or certain persons having some treatment for cancer. For the other ones, it’s the best way is to take an appointment with your pharmacist. And even some pharmacists have called their more high risk people. So it’s, it’s going to be really the place. And at the pharmacy, people can have access to your medication, and then it’s going to be the kind of proof. And I will say that people will not do a medical exam or looking for long kind of proof. But if you went to hospital, if you go to your pharmacist, it’s going to be the best way to add your vaccination done.
Raquel Fletcher: (52:44)
Thank you. My second question is for Minister Dubé. You mentioned the case of thrombosis, which has now been detected in Quebec, and you say people should not worry that you have things under control. Can you explain what kind of procedures you have in place, et cetera? Can you explain that to us in English?
Christian Dubé: (53:09)
Sure. And maybe Dr. Arruda can comment. But I think what we are is what Dr. Arruda calls hypervigilance. We know and we have been very transparent. There could be one case per 100,000. And basically, what we do is we’ll follow that and we made sure that, as in this case, that person have received the proper care and she’s doing correct right now. So that’s what I can do. We knew it could happen and the probability is there. But I think so far it has been the case. And I don’t know, Horacio, if you want to add something.
Dr. Horacio Arruda: (53:52)
It’s a safe vaccine. Even if there is a rare embolism or problems with blood in one under 100,000 doses, what is important is that even COVID-19 can give you embolic or coagulation problems. And the risk of having the disease and comparing to the risk of having this complication is very higher in the disease. So it’s why it’s still part of our, I would say, good tools for eluding COVID-19.
Dr. Horacio Arruda: (54:29)
The harder thing I want to say is that the treatment of those kinds of embolism are different from the normal thrombosis. And all our clinicians, everybody is aware of this syndrome and we are following it. There is cases that have thrombosis after the vaccine, which are not the syndrome, because it’s normal when you’re older, there is a risk of thrombosis normally. So I think in Quebec that we have detected one, just demonstrated that we have a system that can detect this kind of problem. The people know how to treat this situation and we will follow this situation as we do for any side, big effects in vaccines program in Quebec.
Matt Grillo, CTV.
Matt Grillo: (55:19)
Good afternoon to the three of you. With regards to vaccinating those with chronic illnesses, there are some experts out there who say, “If we’re really taking that seriously, we should vaccinate everyone who lives in their house, the whole household,” basically everyone within the bubble. Why isn’t Quebec doing that?
Dr. Horacio Arruda: (55:38)
It’s only related to the quantity of vaccine and of the strategy, because the first aim of the vaccine program is not to slow transmission, it is to protect the high people who are vulnerable. So if we had enough vaccine, we could even vaccinate all the population at the same time. So we’re going step by step, protecting the elderly person or the sick person, chronic disease is our first priority. And if we do vaccinate around those persons, this is going to be not in a vaccine for protecting the other ones at higher risk. That’s only, I would say, an approach related to the high vulnerable. And also we had also the situations where there is a big risk of big outbreaks. But that’s only related to the limit of quantity of vaccines.
Matt Grillo: (56:36)
Dr. Arruda, Are you willing to give the green light to the F1 race to go on without any fans?
Dr. Horacio Arruda: (56:45)
We must evaluate, I would say, from a public health perspective, the risk of transmission in the race, by himself, based on different protocols. Our teams are considering that with no public, unless there is still discussions to have with the federal government, about the importation and what are going to be the measures for people to come into Canada without quarantine. I think it’s possible, technically, to have this kind of race without having a risk for the population if they respect good standards of hygiene and protocols.
Cat Tunney, CBC. [foreign language 00:57:31].
Catharine Tunney: (57:33)
Good afternoon. I just would like to understand your state of mind, Premier Legault, when you look at the number of hospitalizations and knowing that more and more young people are affected and are becoming ICU patients, you still don’t know what’s going on. How do you react when you look at the number of hospitalizations rising and we don’t understand why young people are so much effected yet, and so badly? So what’s your state of mind when you look at those numbers right now?
François Legault: (58:06)
But we see that there are three regions where we worry a lot, where we see increases in the number of hospitalizations. So far, we don’t see that in Montreal and in the rest of Quebec. But, we know what’s happening in Ontario and somewhere else. So we cannot exclude that it will happen eventually in Montreal and Laval. So that’s why we’re careful. And what we see also is that the number of people under 60 years old, going to hospitals, is increasing. It has doubled compared to the first wave. So that is a change, a major change, and it means that until all people, including young people, be vaccinated, be tough and uncertain.
Catharine Tunney: (59:03)
And my second question is regarding the curfew. You said that you’ll extend temporary emergency measures for the three regions. The curfew is in place since a long time now, at 8:00 PM, 9:30, going back to 8:00 PM. But you’re not sure yet if your measures are working. How do you explain that the curfew is essential to people that are having a hard time to understand this?
François Legault: (59:31)
For me, it has a direct relationship with visit in houses. And of course, if the curfew is at 9:30, you have much time to see other people in other houses than if it’s at 8:00 PM. And we’ve seen that in the past in Quebec, we’ve seen that also in other countries. France even put it at 6:00 PM. So we think that it’s helping reducing contacts and we hope we will not need, in Montreal and Laval, to close schools for a certain period. But we cannot exclude that. So that’s why we’re starting with this measure.
Translator (Moderator): (01:00:20)
This puts and end to the press conference. Thank you very much, everyone.