Legault calls for hope and unity amid pandemic in open letter to Quebecers

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks to the media at a news conference Thursday, January 10, 2019 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Premier Francois Legault sent an open letter early Saturday morning to give thanks to Quebecers for their efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

But the fight is far from over, he wrote.

“The situation is difficult all over the planet, but you can be proud of what you have accomplished in the past few weeks. We have regained some control over the pandemic,” reads his letter, posted to Facebook.

“We must continue to help each other if we are to get through it and make it all together in the spring. We must stay united.”

He also suggested Christmas celebrations will be allowed. “It won't be a big Christmas with all the relatives,” he wrote. “But if the grandparents could finally see their grandchildren, for me it would be a big victory.”

“I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE US ALL FINALLY FREED FROM THIS BURDEN.”

In his letter, Legault urged Quebecers to look out for each other’s mental health. “There is a lot of loneliness and distress in our society. The pandemic is exacerbating problems that already existed.”

A recent study from the Université de Sherbrooke found increased levels of anxiety and depression in Quebec.

Researchers found exceptional levels within urban areas, like Montreal, where one in four adults reported depressive symptoms.

"What we're seeing now in Quebec are levels of depression and anxiety that are considerably higher than what was observed pre-pandemic,” said professor and researcher Mélissa Généreux from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Université de Sherbrooke in a press release.

“These levels are similar to those observed in Fort McMurray six months after the 2016 forest fires,” she said.

“THERE IS HOPE WITH UPCOMING VACCINES.”

Prime Minister Trudeau has spent millions of dollars on the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

That includes a $173-million contract with Quebec's Medicago to secure the rights to buy 76 million doses of its vaccine, should it meet health and safety standards.

While there are several vaccines in late-stage trials, Trudeau predicted there is little chance of them becoming available this year, or early 2021. When they are eventually released, supply will be limited, and high-risk populations will be prioritized.

“In the meantime,” wrote Legault, “it will be necessary more than ever to pay attention to others, to take care of our loved ones and our neighborhood.”

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