Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube defended the province’s rollout of the rapid-testing model in the province’s schools Tuesday afternoon, saying the rollout would become easier and faster as time goes on and the province gets its legs under it, much as it did with its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program in the spring.
“If we look at vaccination and testing it always seems to be a mess (during) the first few days,” Dubé said. “What I’m asking people is to just give us a few days and we’ll show, with Daniel Paré that we’ll make a success of rapid tests the same way we did with vaccinations and testing.”
Dube said it would take a little bit of time to make the process more efficient and that pilot programs were already underway in areas of Montreal hardest-hit by COVID-19.
“We’re going to make it practical, and I’m very pleased with what I saw this morning,” when Dube and Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge visited some of the 50 schools in four Montreal areas that are already using rapid-testing kits in their facilities.
For now, the health ministry said, rapid testing will only take place in schools in COVID-19 hotspots, including Montreal North and Parc Extension.
The fourth wave is on the move in Montreal, hitting the unvaccinated hard, Dube said. Nine out 10 patients currently in Montreal intensive-care units for COVID-19 complications are unvaccinated.
Dubé also urged unvaccinated Quebecers to get the shot.
He said people who are not vaccinated are filling hospital beds that should be used by people on surgery wait lists.
“They’re the ones that are taking the spots of those people that should be in hospital to get their surgery. So right now, the best service that we could have from the non-vaccinated is to get vaccinated so that we can continue to improve on our waiting lists,” Dubé said.
Quebec reported 633 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths Tuesday related to pandemic.
Hospitalizations rose in Quebec by three to 230. Health officials say 78 of those patients are in ICU, up three from the day before.
Another 15,213 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered since the last update, including 14,116 in the past 24-hour period. More than 12.6 million shots have been given to date. Certain non-essential services had until yesterday to implement vaccination passports or risk fines as high as $6,000.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase