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Coronavirus cases fall on nursing homes in Quebec, experts assess vaccine, other factors




A Montreal gerontologist says the drop in new COVID-19 infections in the province’s long-term care homes could be an early sign that Quebec’s vaccination strategy is working.

By Dr. Sophie Zhang, who oversees 15 long-term care centers in Montreal, says other factors are likely to contribute to the decline.

Four new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday in the Quebec long-term care network.

The number of reported active cases on the network has dropped significantly, from 840 on January 16 to 85 a month later.

READ MORE: Quebec cinemas may reopen but not sell food and drink

Quebec vaccinated all long-term care residents with one dose by the end of January, as part of a plan focused on delivering one of the two doses required for as many people as possible. The province has said it is on track to give a second dose within 90 days of the first.

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The members of the committee that developed Quebec’s vaccination plan are scheduled to talk about its preliminary results later today.

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Zhang, who supports the province’s vaccine strategy, says “vaccination is part of the package” that has led to a drop in the number of new cases in long-term care.

“What we are seeing is a combination of several things in synergy and really working together to reduce cases and mortality,” she said in an interview Tuesday. Blockade and stoppage time, she added, have also contributed to the decline in the overall number of active infections in Quebec.

Long-term care centers have also improved infection control and prevention measures since the first wave, Zhang said.

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Dr. David Lussier, of the Institut universitaire de geriatrie de Montreal, a geriatric hospital, says that while vaccination may be helping reduce incidence of long-term care, it does not explain why private seniors – where less than half the population has been vaccinated – also have seen a decline in new cases.

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There are currently 317 active cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes, compared to 1,756 a month ago.

Joyce Shanks, a member of the Family Advocacy Committee in Maimonides, the long-term care center where the first doses of the vaccine were administered in Montreal, says she is still concerned.

Her father, who lives in Maimonides, received a dose of the vaccine more than 60 days ago but has not received a second.

“We are holding our breath; “We are not breathing relief,” she said on Wednesday.

READ MORE:Quebec eases some coronavirus restrictions on spring break time

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