COVID cases continue to go down but some experts say it's too soon to celebrate or lift restrictions

COVID

Some medical experts say it's too soon to celebrate the recent decline in new COVID cases and we need to continue to be careful.

"We can definitely be optimistic at this moment," said Benoit Barbeau,expert in virology at UQAM.

Quebec reported 1166 new COVID cases as of yesterday with 57 more deaths; hospitalizations and ICU cases are holding steady. With the vaccine supply dwindling, just under 6000 doses of vaccine were administered yesterday.

But even as cases continue to edge downwards, Barbeau cautioned that we need to keep an eye on several factors such as the number of tests being done as well as elements that could set us back, including COVID variants from other countries and high schools that only recently reopened.

"They might need to extend the current measures and keep it as strict as possible at this moment," said Barbeau in an interview.

Roxane Borgès Da Silva of the School of Public Health at the Université de Montreal agreed there are too many unknowns right now.

"We have to wait to see the impact of the students in high schools who came back to school and the second (factor) for me - it's very worrying, it's the variants," said Da Silva, who called on the Trudeau government to ban non-essential flights out of Canada and to have any travellers returning here quarantine in hotels at their own expense.

Should restrictions be lifted?

Da Silva said depending on the numbers, some restrictions could be lifted in certain rural areas where they don't see as many cases.

"The numbers do suggest we are starting to turn the corner but the key point is, we're turning the corner," said Dr. Don Sheppard, director and founder of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4). He said the recent decline in new cases is normal whenever new measures are applied.

"If you look back four weeks from when we saw this dip, it was the start of the Christmas break when we shut down the schools, when we shut down businesses," Sheppard told CJAD 800.

"We're reaping the benefit of that period now, four plus weeks out."

Sheppard said lifting restrictions is out of the question.

"It is far too soon to reopen things," said Sheppard. "The second you start to turn the corner, if you release the brakes, you're going to fly right off the road."

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