Quebec reports 1,378 new COVID-19 infections, 22 deaths as hospitalizations increase

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MONTREAL — Health officials in Montreal say they'll begin employing what's known as "backward contract tracing" in order to determine the source of COVID-19 spread in the community. 

Dr. Mylene Drouin, Montreal's public health director, said Wednesday that instead of only tracing the contacts of an infected person, authorities will attempt to find the source of the contagion.

She told reporters her department will begin asking people who are being tested for COVID-19 if they've attended events known to have spread the novel coronavirus. Those people who have attended so-called "super-spreader" events will be flagged before their test results are known.  

Drouin told reporters that backward contact tracing has been effective in Japan and other Asian countries. "Research has shown us that 10 to 20 per cent of cases are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the transmission and this transmission is linked to events called super-spreaders," Drouin said.

She said super-spreader events tend to have similar characteristics: they are crowded; they involve activities that include heavy breathing or yelling; and they often take place in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. 

Quebec reported 1,378 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 22 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus, including six in the past 24 hours. The province has reported a total of 118,529 cases and 6,515 deaths linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Four regions accounted for 60 per cent of the cases reported Wednesday: Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean; Monteregie, southeast of Montreal; Lanaudiere; and Montreal. Drouin said that in Montreal — the region hardest hit by the pandemic in Quebec — authorities are reporting a slight increase in the city's average daily case rate, from 250 to 280.

"It's not an increase that's exponential, but we see more each day," Drouin said. The positivity rate remains stable around five per cent, Drouin said, adding that certain districts are seeing higher rates. 

The elderly in the city account for 14 per cent of cases — up recently from eight per cent. That shift, she said, has officials focused on stopping transmission in elder and long-term care homes.

Quebec's national public health institute published a study this week indicating that the novel coronavirus was far less lethal in the summer compared with the spring. The study, which measured the proportion of deaths among people with COVID-19, showed that lethality peaked at 14 per cent between April 5 and May 2. Lethality gradually decreased and stabilized at around one per cent between July and September. 

Authorities said Wednesday that hospitalizations increased by 39 compared with the prior day, to 573, while 84 people were in intensive care, a rise of two. Authorities said 843 more people recovered from the virus, for a total of 100,564.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press