Find loved ones without causing an upsurge in the pandemic. This is the dilemma, in view of the Christmas season.
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Even if the trend seems to have stabilized in Quebec, the curve is not weakening. Positive COVID-19 results still exceeded 1,000 a day last weekend, five weeks before the holidays.
Can we really hope for gatherings of 10 people or three households in a month? The Dr Gaston De Serres, epidemiologist at the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec, is concerned about this scenario.
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“A pandemic feeds on the number of contacts we have,” he recalls. Can we organize parties for 10 people or three households while maintaining distancing and reducing the risk of transmission in family settings? It is not impossible, but it is worrying. ”
“I think the government is looking at all the options, because we want people to know [ce qui se passera] for the holidays. It is painful not to see anyone in our homes now. ”
The stake, according to Dr De Serres, is that a new wave of cases is sweeping the province the day after the Christmas recess.
“We are on a tolerable plateau, but quite high. Will this give a boost that will increase cases substantially? I would say that is a big concern. ”
The plateau in question has been observed since the beginning of October, but it varies from region to region. The government, which is particularly alarmed by the surge in cases in Chaudière-Appalaches and Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean, is therefore faced with a dilemma.
“There are regions where it has decreased and others where it has increased. Overall, in the province, we have been stuck around 1000 to 1300 daily cases for several weeks already ”, notes the Dr From Serres.
What is the tolerable threshold?
The other problem with the idea of gatherings of 10 people is the quantity. What is the tolerable threshold of aperitifs, evenings or brunches so as not to promote worrying community transmission?
“This is a situation that could be problematic. If, in total, the number of people we see ends up being the same, but it is interspersed – three hours with one, three hours with the other – the virus does not take care of our regulations. If we give it the ability to transmit, it will be transmitted. ”
“Yes, we can follow the instructions to the letter, without minimizing the number of contacts conducive to transmission. I think that, since the start of the pandemic, the government’s decisions have been to try to balance all values, namely to work and see the people you love without congesting the health system.
“It’s a difficult balance to maintain.”
In this sense, the Dr De Serres recognizes the social dilemma, since the holiday season is one of gatherings between loved ones.
People crave social contact. It’s a time when you want to find the people you love.