Amid the Omicron wave, Quebec's professional order of physicians — the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ) — is urging the province to "step up the pace" of measures that limit the public's exposure to unvaccinated people.
"It's paradoxical that we have a curfew, hospitals are under pressure, sometimes at stage 4 of triage, and the unvaccinated can freely go to big retail stores or other public places such as the Grande Bibliothèque or the Museum of Fine Arts," CMQ president Dr. Mauril Gaudreault told Radio-Canada.
In a CMQ release issued Saturday, Gaudreault said "the vaccinated population can no longer suffer in silence the constraints of health measures while the unvaccinated occupy one in two beds in short-term care and the majority of beds in intensive care."
This week, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said about 50 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations are people who are unvaccinated and that those patients are experiencing more severe symptoms of the disease.
Gaudreault also criticized the provincial government for its lack of clarity in communicating with the public.
"Messages on testing, rapid testing and isolation are planting confusion right now," he continued.
The doctor would like to see the vaccination campaign for the third dose accelerated and he called on physicians to mobilize to help out in the vaccination centres, as they did in the spring.
Expand vaccine mandate sooner, health experts say
Dr. Cécile Tremblay, an infectious disease specialist at the Université de Montréal hospital, echoed the sentiment shared by the CMQ.
"It seems obvious to me that people who haven't gone to get their first, second and third vaccine doses shouldn't be allowed in public spaces that aren't essential," Tremblay said.
"Everything we're going to do to extend restrictions on public access to people who aren't vaccinated will bring us in the right direction," she said.
On Thursday, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced that as of Jan. 18, SAQ and SQDC outlets — the provincially regulated stores selling liquor and cannabis — will require proof of vaccination to enter.
Dubé also said Quebec will eventually require everyone in the province to have received a third dose of the vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated and hold a vaccination passport, but didn't provide a deadline for when that measure will come into effect.
Gaudreault backed the future requirement, stating in the release that the measure should come into effect sooner "and cover a vast set of shops and public places."
When it comes to the question of better communication, Dubé's office told Radio-Canada that the government holds several press conferences every week, as well as technical briefings for journalists, and believes it's being transparent with Quebecers.