It is rare for a minister to admit that his government was wrong. Hats off to the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, for having done so in all candor. In the second wave of COVID-19, his admission is not trivial.
In an interview with 98.5, Mr. Dubé admitted the error of not having planned to better ventilate the schools before the onset of winter. The virus can also be spread by aerosols suspended in the air in closed, poorly ventilated places.
“It should have been done a long time ago,” admitted Minister Dubé. […] I asked Public Health to revise their opinion because until now, they had not asked us to have specific measures for ventilation. […] Should this have been a priority during the summer? Looking back, you are probably right, but we are doing what we are told to do. “
This statement is significant because the minister clearly explains the reality. Very disturbing otherwise. Either the Public Health of Quebec and in doing so, its boss, Horacio Arruda, have not recommended anything to the government on the front of ventilation in schools.
From the beginning of July, however, hundreds of experts very publicly sounded the alarm to the WHO on the possible spread of COVID-19 by aerosols. In the name of the precautionary principle, they said, it was necessary to quickly improve the ventilation of closed public places.
On July 27, the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) also noted: “More and more authors are of the opinion that the spread by infectious aerosols is plausible and that it should be taken into consideration. “. (Unlike Public Health, the INSPQ is independent from politics.)
How is it that Public Health did not see fit to make this a priority issue?
As for the mask in spring – which she had advised against before hesitating for a long time to recommend that they be worn in closed public places. Here again, Public Health seems to have missed the boat.
Prime Minister François Legault was concerned yesterday about the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in schools. He said he had no indications that these outbreaks were due to poor ventilation.
Other factors can indeed come into play. This, on the other hand, does not exclude that ventilation problems can also contribute. Or, that they will necessarily increase with the winter cold.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health grants Horacio Arruda, at his request, the services of a personal communications advisor. Objective: to clarify its messages.
It is true that Mr. Arruda’s responses to press briefings are often long, sometimes confused and even contradictory.
Whether we think of doctors Joanne Liu, Cécile Tremblay, Amir Khadir or Karl Weiss, among others, the scientists solicited by the media are however very clear in their explanations.
Could it therefore be that in Public Health, the real weakness is not so much on the “form” of the communication but on the substance of some of its own hesitations to recommend to the government to apply the precautionary principle when? it must ?