Distancing variable geometry

Distanciation à géométrie variable

Photo: Adil Boukind The Duty
Jean Coutu Pharmacy. At the pharmacy, the clientele is sparse this early in the afternoon. Two steps from the entrance, an employee masked welcomes all the customers of a generous cloud of alcohol on the hands. At the counter of prescriptions, pharmacists, and employees are all hidden. And the clients? “Most clients wear a mask, because you know, we have a lot of elderly people,” insists an employee. At checkout, a displays a yellow fluorescent placed on the wall of plexiglas recalls the reference to “a meter” to respect between customers and employees.

The photo that accompanies this text has been modified to preserve the identity of the people who appear in them.

The containment post-winter observed between the four beige walls seemed already distant. The account of the deaths nosed in Quebec, suggesting that the virus is made of the holiday. The jackets fall off, the mask also. The two meters of distance based each day a little more in the sun. It is to ask whether Quebecers are still taking their precautions.

In his review of the 100 days of the pandemic, the national director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, was very concerned this week to see the population to lower its guard. “I feel a release that’s been bothering me a lot,” he bemoaned in the aftermath of a weekend of cheering which showed that the fear of the virus to some people is not only soluble in alcohol, but also in the living waters of Lanaudière.

Waiting for a vaccine, preventive measures can save time and remains the only prescription possible, hammer the experts.

However, a proper non-science carried out by The Duty in several shops of the metropolis in the middle of the week demonstrates that adherence to prevention practices is variable geometry, as well as the two meters of distance. All sites combined, less than one-third of the people cross in closed settings were a cover face.

Since the déconfinement, it is necessary to see if it is raised to 8 or 10 contacts, or 12. Even at 8 in close contact, it is sure that there will be a second wave. In closed settings, this is where it happens. Caution should be exercised in a crowd.

— Benoît Mâsse

The second wave in mid-July ?

According to Benoît Mâsse, an epidemiologist at the School of public health, University of Montreal, reduced vigilance could open the door to the emergence of a second wave as early as mid-July. Now that the isolation is a thing of the past, the number of contacts that are “non-protected” in the population is on the rise and will seal as a result of our rocky relationship with the SARS-CoV-2.

Before the confinement, there were in the Quebec average of 12.2 social contacts (family, school, work, transport, leisure) at least of two meters per week, according to figures provided by the INSPQ. Just at work, there were on average 10 contacts per day in employees. The containment has reduced this number to four.

Ce text is part of our “Outlook” section.

“Since the déconfinement, it is necessary to see if it is raised to 8 or 10 contacts, or 12. Even at 8 in close contact, it is sure that there will be a second wave, estimated by this expert. In closed settings, this is where it happens. Caution should be exercised in a crowd. It means mask and wash hands at the entrance as to the exit. Gold full of shops do not offer the disinfectant in the arrival. “

“We start to see the positive cases in people who have no idea where and how they were infected. It is clear that, just in shops and other closed spaces, there are contacts enough extended to generate infections, ” said Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, a pediatrician and microbiologist at CHU Sainte-Justine.

If 50 % of people wore the mask in public, the factor R (the reproductive rate of the virus) could be maintained in less contamination by infected person. This measure is 50 % more effective if the mask is worn by the sick people, say researchers from the University of Cambridge.

But, in the minds of many, the wearing of the mask, or its rejection, has become over the weeks as much of a political stance than an inconvenience unnecessary rather than a prescription of public health.

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The tip of the iceberg

According to preliminary data of the study CONNECT carried out by the research Group in mathematical modelling and health economics related to infectious diseases, Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval, 19 % of Quebecers would have worn a cover-face in April (in the previous week), a rate that would have jumped to 41 % in may. In Montreal, this would be the case of 46 % of the respondents, and the rate is… 28 % elsewhere in the province, according to partial data* obtained by The Duty. A portrait that contrasts with what we observed this week on the field.

“If everyone wore a mask, we could avoid a second wave “, think Dr. Quach-Thanh, who deplores the fact that the cover face is not yet mandatory.

The resurgence meteoric infections in the United States — 41 000 new cases in a single day this week — and in other countries where the déconfinement is initiated before the Quebec should serve as an alarm, writes Benoît Mâsse.

According to the latter, the carelessness of some people in the face of the mask is only the tip of the iceberg. “These people are probably too lax about the washing of hands and the physical distance, and they feel neither at risk or involved “, he says. If nothing changes, a reconfinement, partial, or localized, is not to exclude, according to him.

“People act as if it was the return to the normal life. Yet many people are still confined. It is not equal in the déconfinement, says the epidemiologist. The public needs to understand that the lives of many other people is still affected and still depends on our behavior. “

*Survey of 546 Quebec selected randomly among the general population between the 21 April and 20 may 2020.

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