Montreal authorities concerned as COVID-19 cases rise among people 65 and older

Montreal is currently dealing with 130 active outbreaks stemming from the second wave of the novel coronavirus and authorities are worried about a rise in cases among people 65 and older.

Dr. Mylène Drouin, director of the local public health department, said Wednesday that most outbreaks are small, affecting fewer than 10 people, but it shows that community transmission of COVID-19 is present in the hard-hit city.

“We are asking people to be vigilant,” she told reporters.

Drouin said 42 outbreaks are in schools and that 336 schools have at least one case of the virus. There are 50 outbreaks in workplaces, 18 in daycares and 12 in health-care establishments.

At one Montreal seniors’ residence, health authorities say there are at least 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death.

The majority of new cases in Montreal are among the 18-34 age group — but what has changed in the last two weeks is that there is a higher number of new infections among people 65 and older, according to Drouin.

She said that age group now represents about 12 to 15 per cent of cases, compared to six per cent two weeks ago.

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In order to protect seniors, Montrealers are being asked to abide by public health rules and avoid contact with grandparents as much as possible.

“Be careful because we have had some cases with people living in intergenerational homes where we see that the measures are less applied and see cases that came from school are transferred to parents and then grandparents,” said Drouin.

Montreal is in a partial lockdown until at least Oct. 28 to stem the tide of the virus. It is one of Quebec’s designated red zones, which calls for tighter restrictions. The city is currently averaging more than 300 new cases per day.

Hospital numbers on the rise

Montreal has also seen its hospital numbers double in the last week, but health authorities say they are ready for more patients if necessary.

Sonia Bélanger, head of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, said that there are 129 patients in hospital compared to 44 last week. Of them, 25 are in intensive care.

Unlike the first wave of the health crisis, Bélanger said all Montreal hospitals have dedicated beds for COVID-19 patients. There are 1,000 beds in total across the region’s network to accommodate patients and more than 100 reserved in intensive care units.

“I would say we still have a lot of capacity in terms of beds and infrastructure,” she said, adding that long-term care homes are also better prepared.

The resurgence in cases and hospitalizations is hard, however, on health-care staff who were already stretched thin during the spring, according to Bélanger.

She said it’s important for residents to follow public health measures and restrictions in red zones to keep pressure off those on the front lines.

Cancel Thanksgiving plans

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said is worried about the upcoming long weekend and she is urging people to cancel their Thanksgiving plans.

“It is very important not to get all together at the same place,” she said.

She also asks that Montrealers be cautious outdoors. If physical distancing is not possible, masks should be worn, she added.

Plante also advised citizens not to crowd the same green space, such as Mount Royal.

“I am definitely asking people to go to their local parks,” she said.

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