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Dr. Horacio Arruda presents a Deconfinement screening plan

Dr. Horacio Arruda presents a Deconfinement screening plan
/ Emilie Nadeau

The National Director of Public Health of Quebec, Dr. Horacio Arruda, has presented the Legault government's plan to accelerate efforts to screen for COVID-19, in the wake of the first phases of deconfinement.

Quebec will increase the number of tests from 6,000 to 14,000 by the end of next week in anticipation of deconfinement and is adopting a new COVID-19 screening strategy.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) claims to perform 6000 to 7000 screening tests per day, data released by the National Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) reports 4000 to 5000 daily tests.

Dr. Horacio Arruda said this total should soon climb much faster, according to the authorities, who hope to be able to carry out next week 14,500 tests per day - a number that could double later. The figure of 30,000 daily tests has even been put forward by Dr Arruda, who claims that mass screening "is part of the deconfinement conditions that we have put in place". The government currently relies on 30 laboratories spread across the province to analyze the tests, Quebec is moving towards an increase in mobile clinics, particularly in the Montreal region. Quebec has carried out more than 220,000 tests for the new coronavirus so far, said Dr Arruda

Quebec is making the second major change to its screening strategy. At the start of the pandemic, it only tested travelers returning from abroad with symptoms and the people with whom they are in close contact. Then, Dr Arruda decided to do the tests mainly with hospital patients and residents of CHSLDs as well as with personnel of the health network. "There has always been an issue of equipment shortages, especially swabs" "...but there are enough materials today, and other technologies will also be used," said Dr Arruda

With the deconfinement to come, we should expect random tests, in hot areas like Montreal and Laval, but also in cold areas, to check the evolution of the contagion in the community. One of the World Health Organization’s criteria for deconfinement is good screening capacity.

The most recent public health report shows 163 new deaths from COVID-19, increasing the total death toll to 2,022 people in the province. Dr. Arruda said this is the highest number reported on a single day, however, he said it includes previously unreported deaths for the month of April.

A testing clinic opens today in Montréal-Nord, for anyone with symptoms can call 514-644-4545 for an appointment.

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