Update: Quebec is one example of a world wide problem: See COVID-19 Is Also a Crisis for Democracy and Human Rights
The coronavirus pandemic began as a global health crisis. It spawned an economic crisis. Now COVID-19 is also fueling a crisis for democracy and human rights.
Leaders around the world are using the virus as cover to reduce transparency, increase surveillance, arrest dissidents, repress marginalized populations, embezzle public resources, restrict media, and undermine fair elections.
Quebec premier clarified the province’s new COVID-19 measures in red zones
With this edict, as of October 1 the government of Quebec has put 60% of the provincial population under strict restrictions, about 4.8 million people. The article from CBC News provides the details Quebec gives police legal tools to enter homes quickly to stop gatherings during COVID-19 Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
Quebec Premier François Legault says police in the province’s red zones — regions where COVID-19 cases are surging — will be issuing $1,000 fines to those who violate newly strengthened public health rules.
With fees, those fines will top $1,500 and can be issued for gathering in private residences or protesting without a face covering.
Speaking during a late-afternoon news conference on Wednesday just hours before the new rules went into effect, Legault said the negligence of a few has led to the crackdown.
“Lives are at stake. We want to keep our children in schools,” Legault said. “We also want to protect our health network”
Quebec reported 838 new cases of COVID-19 but no new deaths Wednesday. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 74,288 confirmed cases and 5,834 people have died in the province.
Home gatherings can lead to fines
Beyond the few exceptions, such as for caregivers or romantic relations, house guests are not allowed, Legault said.
Police are authorized to demand proof of residency and if residents refuse entry, officers will be able to obtain warrants faster through a new, virtual system that was established in collaboration with the Crown, the premier said.
“We had to give the police the means to intervene,” said Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault.
Protestors to be fined for refusing to wear masks
Quebec made masks mandatory inside public spaces, like bars and shops, on July 18, but there have been several protests since.
Now, anti-maskers will have to cover up if they want to march or police will be issuing fines.
All gatherings prohibited, travel discouraged
Legault said all gatherings will be banned, even outside in public parks — an activity that has grown more popular in places like Montreal during the pandemic.
“Police officers will start by trying to disperse the gatherings, but if people don’t co-operate, fines can be given,” he said.
Legault said people from red zones cannot travel to orange zones to eat in a restaurant or gather in a home. They will face fines if they do.
He said restaurants will not be required to verify residency, but police can issue a ticket if they catch people violating the rules.
People should not travel between regions to pick up groceries or run similar errands, Legault said. People can go to their cottage, for example, as long as they bring their provisions with them.
The new restrictions take effect 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday and are set to last for 28 days, until Oct. 28, in the red zones. The restrictions are:
- A ban on home gatherings, with some exceptions, such as a single caregiver, babysitter, tradesperson or technician, allowed per visit.
- All bars and casinos are closed. Restaurants can offer only takeout.
- Museums, cinemas and theatres are closed.
- Being less than two metres apart will be prohibited. Masks will be mandatory during demonstrations.
- Houses of worship and venues for events, such as funerals and weddings, will have a 25-person limit.
- Hair salons, hotels and other such businesses will stay open.
- Schools will remain open.
What is the Emergency Requiring Virtual Quarantine of Healthy People?
Each Friday the Quebec health research institute (INESSS) provides a statistical update of the Covid19 situation with projections regarding the key concern: Capacity of the system to care for actual Covid cases requiring in-hospital treatment. Here is the latest information.
On the left is the history of Covid hospitalizations in Quebec to end of September. Note that presently there about 20 people per day are admitted to hospital with Covid19. As of Oct. 1, Quebec reported 276 people in hospital (including 46 in ICU) out of covid bed capacity of 1750. If the 20/day new admissions rate since July 1 continued, and assuming an average length of stay of 12 days, the net of covid beds occupied should not increase and more likely would go down. So the projections on the right side have a wide range, but even with an upward bias, the capacity is not reached. And as the lower right shows, ICU capacity is even less likely to be overwhelmed.
On September 24, INESSS authorities said (here):
In Quebec, the hospitalization rate for COVID-19 patients has dropped sharply since the beginning of the pandemic. During the first wave, about 13 per cent of cases ended up in hospital. From Aug. 10 to Sept. 6, the rate was just 5 per cent. At a technical briefing on Wednesday, researchers and officials from Quebec’s institute of excellence in health and social services (INESSS) projected that the rate for COVID-19 patients in early September would fall again to 3.8 per cent.
The drop can be explained by the relative youth of Quebeckers contracting the virus in its second wave and their relative lack of comorbidities. By contrast, in the spring, the virus tore through long-term care homes in the province, killing 4,914 elderly residents.
As a result of this shift, Quebec will not exceed its hospital capacity of about 2,000 beds in the next four weeks, according to the INESSS projections. But officials warned that a faster spread of the virus caused by careless behaviour could still put pressure on the health care system.
Above is the outlook for October from INESSS. For both ICU and covid hospital beds observations are tracking a forecast showing slight increases. It appears that the precautionary principle is being applied without regard for the costs of locking down: social, economic and personal well-being seem not to be part of the equation.
Quebec Situation Update October 1, 2020
Note that testing has quadrupled since July and the number of new cases followed, especially in the last month. Meanwhile daily deaths are unchanged at less than five a day, compared to Quebec losing 186 lives every day from all causes.. Recoveries are not reported to the public, perhaps due to the large number of people testing positive but without symptoms or only mild illness and no professional treatment. The graph below estimates recoveries assuming that people not dying 28 days after a positive test can be counted as cured or in recovery.
Recoveries are the number of people testing positive (misleadingly termed “cases”) minus deaths 28 days later. Obviously, the death rate was high early on, and now is barely visible. Meanwhile the Positivity rate (% of people testing positive out of all subjects) went down to 1% for several months before rising recently. Since there is a lag of 28 days, we don’t yet see the outcome of the rise in positives along with the increased testing.
Premier Legault and his medical advisors had done well up to now. The first goal was to prevent deaths, and that has been achieved. 186 Quebecers die every day from all causes, and now about 5 are dying having tested positive for SARS CV2. The other goal was to prevent overwhelming the health care system with Covid cases. This too is under control. On October 1, there were 276 patients hospitalized with covid, including 46 in ICUs. The capacity is 1750 beds and 370 ICU beds. Since July there have been about 20 new admissions daily, offset by recoveries released from hospital.
Unfortunately, now the authorities have spooked themselves and applied a lockdown at the wrong time. Their goal has shifted to stopping new positives, which have increased because testing has quadrupled and positivity rates gone up from 1% to 5%. These are younger people who are not getting sick and certainly not dying from the virus. As many epidemiologists have said, you won’t get rid of this virus, you live with it by getting herd immunity, which leaves too few susceptible people for the virus to spread. If you kill off all the PME businesses and put people out of work, poverty and social decay will kill people, not to mention the interruption of medical treatments which save those with the real deadly diseases: cancers, heart, arteries, lungs, and so on.