Don’t worry about the virus and don’t live with it

Quebec increasingly appears to be not caring about COVID, instead of “living with the virus” as suggested by Premier François Legault and Public Health.

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“We’re fed up, so we pay less attention to it,” explains Mathieu Girdal, whom he met on Avenue du Mont-Royal, simply when asked if he’s still taking measures to limit transmission, such as wearing one Mask.

Yesterday, while the sun was beating down, Le Journal strolled through central Montreal and at the Festival d’été de Québec to meet Quebecers, most of whom admitted they’d shed their masks and resumed social life.

However, the end of health regulations has caused many people to forget about COVID, even as public health has suggested “living with the virus” by continuing to advocate certain measures:

The government recommends wearing a face covering whenever it is difficult to keep your distance from others. Radio advertising still conveys this message massively.

But despite this seventh wave, many Quebecers have given up the mask and have no intention of putting it on again any time soon.

Aaron Zak wasn't even aware there was a seventh wave of COVID-19.

Photo Olivier Faucher

Aaron Zak wasn’t even aware there was a seventh wave of COVID-19.

In April, a Léger-Le Journal-TVA-QUB ​​poll found that 73% of respondents would continue to wear the mask “mostly or occasionally” if the measure were to be lifted.

Visiting a popular thrift store in Plaza Saint-Hubert and a busy grocery store in Plateau-Mont-Royal, Le Journal found that around one in 10 people wore the mask.

“We quickly got used to the mask, but we lost it just as quickly,” notes Fanny Blanchard, who is crossed on the Avenue du Mont-Royal.

At the Festival d’été de Québec, COVID-19 is non-existent in people’s minds. People crowd like sardines in the queues or on the Grande-Allée.

Almost nobody wore the mask while waiting for the shows at the Festival d'été de Québec.

Photo Didier Debusschere

Almost nobody wore the mask while waiting for the shows at the Festival d’été de Québec.

The observation is that very few passers-by wear the mask. Within hours, Le Journal came across a lady with the face covering on her chin. She refused to be photographed because she didn’t want to be laughed at.

Living with the virus also means being able to avoid big waves. But Quebec is not doing so by going through its worst pandemic summer as a seventh wave hits the province.

Hospital admissions have risen by 200 in a week, deaths are more numerous than in previous years and almost 7,000 workers are missing from the health network, while hospital occupancy rates are skyrocketing in many regions.

Without forgetting that “community transmission remains very strong,” as expressed this week in a press conference by Dr. Marie-France Raynault, adviser to the Department of Health and Social Services.

Finally, experts suggested reducing travel to learn to live with the virus. The opposite happens.

Many Quebecers have left the province this summer, as illustrated by the chaos that has reigned at Montreal-Trudeau Airport since the summer began.

Traffic has returned to 70% of its pre-pandemic levels.

Noticeable disinterest

In fact, many people have stopped paying attention to the development of the epidemiological situation.

“All the population moved on, people started turning the page,” said Emmanuel Lazarini, who was crossed on Montreal’s Avenue du Mont-Royal.

In Quebec, Sylvain Gallant, sitting in front of a beer with friends while waiting for a show, declared that “just like we did before COVID, we’ve gone back to the measures”.

Audrey Latulippe and her friends specifically chose downtown Quebec to celebrate an accomplice’s bachelorette party.

“The virus is weak. You have to live with that. It no longer exists in my head. It’s like a normal cold […] We need to come back from COVID,” she says.

On the other hand, there are only a few bottles of hand sanitizer gel on the Festival d’été site and at the entrance to shops.

The illusion that COVID will go away in summer

If Québecians are indifferent to the seventh wave of COVID-19, it’s because they’ve been given the wrong message that the pandemic will be on hiatus this summer, one expert denounces.

  • Olivier Faucher, The Journal of Montreal

“The message we sent with the lifting of all measures is that there is no problem. Then when you come back and say there is a problem, there is no one who wants to wear masks or want any other action. »

This is how Jacques Lapierre, a retired virologist, analyzes the attitude of Quebecers in the face of the COVID wave that is causing the number of hospitalizations in the province to skyrocket in the middle of summer.

Jacques Lapierre, retired virologist.

Archive photo

Jacques Lapierre, retired virologist.

Worst summer so far

The summers of 2020 and 2021 have also given people the wrong impression that the virus is taking a break when the heat sets in, he said.

“It’s not a seasonal virus,” he thunders. It’s a virus that’s not there when you protect yourself, and it’s there when you don’t protect yourself. In the past two summers there have been measures such as the mask, the vaccination pass. »

Quebec is experiencing its worst summer since the pandemic began when there was no wave in the middle of the 2020 and 2021 summer season. The weeks of July 4th and 11th saw 47 and 34 deaths, respectively. In the past two years, there had never been a week in July with more than 20 deaths.

In order to slow the progression of COVID-19, people should at least wear a mask “in all indoor and outdoor areas where there are many people” and keep the population up to date with their vaccine doses, the virologist believes.

Because if nothing is done, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to increase.

“I feel like we gave everyone on the opposing team a puck, took our goalie away and said to each other, ‘The puck won’t go in the goal,'” he illustrates.

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