News

Montreal overrides provincial COVID-19 directive regarding daycares


The city’s public health department is suspending a provincial order allowing exposed children and educators to remain in daycare settings.

Article content

As many daycares prepared to reopen after the Christmas break, Montreal’s public health department suspended a new provincial order that would allow those exposed to COVID-19 to remain at daycare.

Advertisement

Article content

Montreal’s public health department said Monday it overrode a directive that its provincial counterpart sent to daycare centres across Quebec on Thursday. The directive states that children and educators in daycare settings who come in contact with someone known to be infected with COVID-19 no longer have to isolate for 10 days, and they can return to the daycare as long as they don’t present any symptoms.

“The directive has been suspended,” Jean Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for the city’s public health department, told the Montreal Gazette on Monday afternoon.

The province said children and educators who have come in contact with someone infected are considered to be at a “moderate risk” level to contract the virus. Educators who have been exposed are encouraged to monitor their symptoms and conduct rapid antigen tests. As it stands, children are not required to wear masks in daycares, according to provincial directives.

Advertisement

Article content

The new rule was communicated to daycares on the same day that Premier François Legault announced more restrictive measures for Quebec schools, stores, restaurants and bars.

However, Aubé said the city’s public health department elected to suspend the order because it disagreed with the province’s assessment. That means daycare centres across the island will stick to the measures in place last year, which required children and educators to isolate for a period of 10 days after being exposed to someone infected with the virus.

“These children are not vaccinated and don’t wear masks,” Aubé said.

He added that while Montreal’s public health department has the authority to suspend or modify directives from the province, it is now in discussion with Quebec’s public health department about the measure. Aubé said the city’s public health department has made modifications to provincial directives in the past, notably to address Montreal-specific situations in school settings.

Advertisement

Article content

The suspension only applies to the island of Montreal. That means daycare centres elsewhere will be obliged to follow the new directive, unless other public health authorities also suspend the order.

That is a source of concern for Olivier Drouin, a clinician, researcher and pediatrician at the Ste-Justine Hospital.

“It seems to me that for reasons I don’t understand, the government has given up on the strategy (of trying to limit infections in daycare centres),” Drouin said, adding that it’s often very difficult to trace the virus in the youngest age group without a robust testing strategy. “The majority of kids who are infected have little to no symptoms.”

Drouin said there has been an alarming increase in the number of children being admitted to hospitals with COVID-19. The rate is higher than at any other time during the pandemic, and he warned it will only get worse if the province doesn’t suspend this new measure across the board.

Advertisement

Article content

“There is zero doubt it will lead to more cases,” Drouin said. “You’re going to have positive cases who are not vaccinated and don’t wear masks in contact with others in close proximity who are not vaccinated and don’t have masks. This is a recipe for huge spikes in the preschool sector,” which he said will lead to more outbreaks in the general population.

The Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance du Québec, which represents 3,200 members, agreed. It issued a statement Monday calling on the province to abandon the new measure for all daycares.

Families Minister Mathieu Lacombe responded to the issue on Twitter, saying his department would meet with daycare centres on Monday to explain the new directives, adding that the goal is to keep daycares safe.

A spokesperson for the province’s health ministry did not return a request for comment on Monday.

Advertisement

Article content

jmagder@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jasonmagder

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

close