COVID-19: Fatal Trap in Eastern Quebec

Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean, Capitale-Nationale, Chaudière-Appalaches and Gaspésie are at the top of the regions where COVID-19 claimed the most lives this fall and the situation could worsen if lessons are not learned.

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The numbers are clear. The eastern part of the province is emerging after a fall swept away by the second wave of COVID-19.

Relative to population, the four regions with the most deaths since 1is September are all in the east.

“It’s exactly what we expected, what we planned,” recalls Roxane Borgès Da Silva, professor of public health at the University of Montreal. “When we saw the size it took in Montreal, we were locked up for a long period of time and we had the virus under control. In a way they are [ces régions] didn’t know what to expect. “

“The lessons of spring have not been learned in these regions. They were heard, but we had not experienced what it was ”, adds Dr Réjean Hébert, former Minister of Health, now a professor at the University of Montreal.

Community transmission

According to experts, we have to go back to the summer to explain the marked increase in the number of deaths in the fall. Regions spared by the first wave, such as Charlevoix, Saguenay and Gaspésie, have become shelters for the flight from COVID-19. The tourist impulse would have had the effect of seeding, leading to deaths a few months later.

“One hypothesis is that these vacation spots are popular with people who do not adhere to hygiene rules”, analyzes Mme Borgès Da Silva.

Once the virus arrived in the region, its progression followed only the known trajectory of community transmission.

“If we keep in touch with the outside world, there will certainly be outbreaks. And in the residences it circulates in silence for a few days before we realize it, that’s the tragedy, ”recalls Gaston De Serres, epidemiologist at INSPQ.

“There were outbreaks in the community and then there were health workers [fait] fill in that in care institutions and homes ”, specifies Dr Hébert, recalling the dramatic result.

“What shocked me most about all this is the trivialization of their deaths. […] “Old lives are important,” we haven’t heard much of it since the onset of the crisis, ”Dr.r Hébert.


And while the numbers for the fall are striking, the experts consulted by Le Journal issue a warning. “It’s far from over.”

“I’ve been ringing the bell for a number of weeks now and say that we have to learn from the past few months,” says Réjean Hébert. We know the mode of transmission, in CHSLDs it unfortunately goes through the people who provide care. We must prevent these people from contracting the disease. “

Be aware of the risk

To do this, we need to consider the importance of the government’s decision to ban holiday gatherings. Is It Really Worth Defying The Rules?

“You have to ask yourself individually whether it is worth taking this risk to end up at the funeral home four weeks later. It is difficult, but it is important that people become aware of the risk, ”emphasizes Roxane Borgès Da Silva.

“It’s a collapse every time”

Nine dead. This is the tragic toll of a property in Baie-Saint-Paul, one of the directors agreed to witness the tragedy as a reminder that no one is immune.

“When it comes in, despite everything we can do, it does not prevent it from leaving”, sighs Philippe Richard, regional director of Groupe Bâtisseurs, owner of the Bâtisseurs residence in Baie-Saint-Paul, but also at Manoir Sully where a large outbreak is going on in Quebec.

“Everyone knows each other. Our employees know families. […] It’s a breakdown every time. “

If he accepts to testify to the pain caused by the nine deaths, it is to make the population aware of the risk. He recalls that community transmission is no less serious as it often ends up in homes for the elderly.

“Empty seats”

Since the day the virus entered the Résidence des Bâtisseurs, nothing will be the same again.

“We will have a lot of support work for our residents and our employees, because at home there will be empty chairs in the dining room,” the manager sighs.

Christmas reflection

After the tsunami caused by the virus in his homes, Philippe Richard struggles to understand the stubbornness of some to celebrate Christmas as if nothing had happened. He calls on Quebeckers to think about his nine deceased residents and everyone else.

“They, their relatives, will not be able to see them. Are you gonna get together and have fun at a Christmas party without protection or distance? Think about it all the time because the virus is there. And he doesn’t knock on the door to come in, ”the emotion-stifled voice confides in Philippe Richard.

Lessons to be learned for the regions saved

If there is one lesson to be learned from the trap, it is that regions still spared will no longer be spared if they drop their guard. The experts are clear about that.

“The regions not yet affected are far from immune,” warns Roxane Borgès Da Silva, a public health specialist, who insists on compliance with health measures.

“We saw the difference in the second wave. We can believe that because of the severity of the first wave, the people of Montreal have better respected the measures in the fall and are less affected today, ”she emphasizes.

Former Health Minister Réjean Hébert agrees, urging elderly homes and CHSLDs to remain vigilant even if the virus is less circulating in certain regions.

“The lessons are the same. We must prohibit the movement of personnel, monitor ventilation, better protect workers, even in regions that are less affected at the moment, ”he emphasizes, emphasizing the Outaouais, Abitibi or Côte-Nord, which have so far been spared the crisis.

Ranking of regions by death in relation to the population since 1 September

  1. Saguenay – Lac-St-Jean: 37.44
  2. Capitale-Nationale: 35.97
  3. Chaudière-Appalaches: 30.33
  4. Gaspé – Îles-de-la-Madeleine: 29.89
  5. Lanaudière: 21.73
  6. Montérégie: 17.00
  7. Estrie: 12.46
  8. Laval: 11.85
  9. Laurentides: 11.61
  10. Mauricie and Center-du-Quebec: 10.57
  11. Outaouais: 8.31
  12. Montreal: 8.13
  13. Bas-Saint-Laurent: 7.60
  14. North coast: 1.10

Figures show the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants *

* Calculation of log from data from the INSPQ of December 3, 2020 and the Institut de la statistique du Québec

The homes of seniors were most affected by COVID-19 deaths this fall



  • CHSLD Saint-Augustin (photo): 36
  • CHSLD Côté-Jardin: 26
  • Assisi CHSLD: 22
  • RPA Manoir Saint-Amand: 12


  • Hôtel-Dieu in Lévis: 26
  • CHSLD Cap-Saint-Ignace: 18
  • CHSLD Chanoine-Audet: 9
  • CHSLD Marc-André-Jacques: 9

Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean

  • CHSLD Jacques-Cartier: 30
  • RPA Manoir Champlain: 6
  • RPA Villa des Sables: 6
  • Senior RPA Area: 4

Sources: Quebec Government and CIUSSS

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