Just before the outbreak of the health crisis in Quebec, Dr. Horacio Arruda was absent in the country for 12 days to perform a voyage of business but mainly pleasure in Morocco, depending on what was learned The canadian Press.
The national director of public health has left the Québec destination of Marrakech on Wednesday, February 26, and was back from vacation on Sunday, march 8, in Montreal.
Hear voices in the political class, and examine whether this extended absence, a pivotal moment in the pandemic coronavirus, illustrates the blindness of the government Legault, in January and February, when the virus spread across the world.
The opposition parti québécois asked if it was prudent and wise to do so, and if Quebec has not lost so valuable time to better anticipate the impending danger, preparing the health system to absorb the brutal shock that would occur.
Before going abroad, Dr. Arruda, who has a status of assistant deputy minister, had secured the authorization of the deputy minister, Yvan Gendron, and the minister of Health, Danielle McCann.
Upon his return from vacation, Dr. Arruda attended a press conference alongside the minister McCann on march 9, before you alert the prime minister François Legault of the gravity of the situation, a first meeting with him that resulted in the creation of a crisis cell at the highest governmental level.
In his absence, one of the first cases of infection had been reported in Quebec, on the 27th of February. In three months, since the beginning of march, the virus of the COVID-19 will cut some 5,000 lives in Quebec, who deplores more than 60 % of all deaths in Canada.
Flippant Attitude ?
In this context, the holiday of Dr. Arruda leave the opposition parti québécois puzzled.
No doubt that this digression has had a direct impact on the progression of the crisis, according to the spokesperson of the parti québecois in health, the member of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Joël Arseneau, convinced that measures were taken too late.
In the interview, he was surprised in front of the apparent “flippancy,” Dr. Arruda, believe that the government could have acted ” a month earlier “, in particular to ensure the supply of protective equipment, especially masks in sufficient quantity, and recruit staff in NURSING homes. During this time, at the end of January, the British Columbia and Alberta were placing orders for equipment, including masks.
He wonders whether his presence in Quebec would have been able to make a difference.
“If we had grasped the scale of the crisis that was coming, of course, the director of public health would not itself granted these holidays-there, knowing that he was the conductor of the orchestra,” said Mr. Arseneau, rushing to add that the government, in parallel, did not hesitate to cancel by decree the holidays of all the staff of the health.
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Dr. Arruda has denied a request for an interview about his absence from Québec, in February and march. The minister McCann declined to comment.
The spokesman for the ministry indicated that while he was on holiday, he remained in relationship with his team. “During all this period, he has been in constant contact with the ministry of Health and social Services to monitor the situation,” says the director of communications for the department, Catherine Gauthier, in an e-mail.
Still, replica Joël Arseneau, if measures had been taken earlier, during this period, ” maybe we wouldn’t be here.”
At the end of February, the situation was the need to keep the public informed. Mr. Arruda was absent and he had to be replaced by the deputy director general of the protection of public health, Dr. Yves Jalbert, during press activities, between 27 February and 6 march, alongside the minister McCann.
On 12 march, shortly after the break, the prime minister François Legault and Dr. Arruda have required State employees that they commit themselves to a period of isolation required of 14 days, if they came from abroad.
Mr. Arruda, who has resumed his duties upon his return from Marrakech, has so ignored its own setpoint. “If he had had the slightest symptom, he would be placed in isolation immediately,” assured the spokesman of the ministry, in response to the apparent contradiction.
Morocco was among the countries hit by the pandemic. At the beginning of march, the country had already recorded a few cases of infection with the coronavirus, including one in Marrakech.
But this is not the pandemic coronavirus which has led Dr. Arruda in Morocco (and not in Geneva, Switzerland, as some media reported), but rather the cannabis.
He had been invited by the organizers of the congress Officine Expo 2020, held ” under the high patronage of his majesty the king Mohammed VI “, to give a lecture on the legalization of cannabis in front of thousands of pharmacists in africa.
The congress lasted two days, on 28 and 29 February.