Tue. May 26th, 2020

Analysis: Quebec needs to brace for a second COVID-19 wave, experts say

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Is the worst over?

Some Quebecers might be tempted to ask that question after a slew of government announcements this week aimed at reopening the province following 10 weeks of strict confinement in the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier François Legault and Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s chief public health officer, have conveyed a reassuring message all week that the crisis has stabilized amid a drop in the number of hospitalizations.

But a wide range of experts in Canada and the United States have been warning against complacency, and are predicting a second, possibly more dangerous wave of COVID-19 infections in the fall — perhaps coinciding with the start of the seasonal flu.

It’s telling that Arruda on Friday twice mentioned the prospect of a second wave at a news conference in Montreal, even going so far as to suggest it could strike in the autumn.

Dr. Anne Gatignol, a McGill University microbiologist who has studied virus-cell interactions, was one of the earliest critics of Quebec’s response to the pandemic, urging the government in January to require that people returning from China self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival. In the first week of February, Quebec followed some of her advice, demanding self-isolation for those coming back from China’s Hubei province.

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