Launched in a real race against time, Quebec is improving resources to track down the more contagious variants of COVID-19, in order to stem their arrival in the province. Already, a student returned from England has infected her family in Montreal and Estrie, without however spreading the virus in the community.
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By the end of February, Quebec will test 10% of samples positive for COVID-19, compared to around 3% currently. To achieve this, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) will have a total budget of $ 11.1 million.
By sequencing these samples, wishes in particular to detect the British variant of COVID-19, considered 30% to 70% more contagious than the classic strain. The Brazilian and South African variants are also of concern to health authorities.
“This will lead to recommendations from Public Health which are adapted to the variants in circulation,” explained Dr. Michel Roger, chief microbiologist of the Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec, during a technical briefing.
Likewise, detecting the arrival of these mutations in Quebec more quickly will make it possible to anticipate the influx of patients into hospitals and to adapt the vaccination strategy according to the variants.
While Ontario grapples with a spread of the British variant on its territory, Quebec has only eight cases on its territory so far.
Four of them were detected within the same family, while a student returned from England infected her mother and sister in Montreal, then her father in Estrie. “She did not follow the instructions”, underlines Dr Michel Roger.
Besides these infections within the same family, none of the cases led to community infection, assures Dr. Roger.