Rising tide of COVID-19 cases hits Quebec's Magdalen Islands

·2 min read
The Magdalen Islands, an archipelago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, has been seeing a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. (Jean-François Deschênes/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Magdalen Islands, an archipelago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, has been seeing a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. (Jean-François Deschênes/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Even some of Quebec's most remote regions are feeling the effects of Omicron's rapid spread this week, with the number of new cases topping 120 in the Gaspé and the Magdalen islands in the past two days.

But despite that record number, the local health authority is urging the public to stay calm and follow guidelines.

There are 38 active cases on the Magdalen Islands right now — a chain of islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that has a population of about 12,000 people.

Sophie Doucet, who heads the regional health authority, the CISSS des Îles, says that's an alarming number considering there were only about 50 cases total from the beginning of the pandemic to last October.

She said her main focus right now is to try to make sure those cases do not make their way into the region's hospitals.

"We don't only have people with COVID-19, we have people with other health-care problems who need hospitalization beds," she said.

Isabelle Larose/Radio-Canada
Isabelle Larose/Radio-Canada

The region's public health director, Dr. Yv Bonnier-Viger, said the good news is there is currently only one COVID-19 patient in hospital in the entire region — and he hopes to keep it that way.

"We are breaking records, indeed. This is true for Quebec, it is true for the Gaspé, it is true for the Islands," he said.

He said the region's high vaccination rate helps, but he is calling on residents to keep following basic health guidelines and reduce contacts.

Bonnier-Viger noted the current portrait does not take into account people who have used rapid tests and who have not had their positive result validated at a screening clinic.

"There are cases on the islands, but they do not have their main address on the Islands, so people who are visiting or on vacation," added Doucet. "They are not included in the public health figures."

Bonnier-Viger said there is no need in the region to bring back health-care workers who are isolated due to a COVID-19 infection, as is being done for other parts of the province.

There are currently two health-care workers in isolation in the Magdalen Islands.

He said there is also no need to cut down on services just yet, but people who test positive are being asked to contact people they have been in contact with.

"They're going to give a little helping hand, because we are no longer able to make calls directly to contacts. There are far too many contacts," Bonnier-Viger said.

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