Soon 15,000 dead in Quebec | “We have forgotten the faces behind these numbers”

Although the majority of Quebec residents have resumed their pre-pandemic activities, deaths from the virus continue to rise. The province is approaching the milestone of 15,000 deaths from COVID-19. Tragic deaths now seem to be a part of everyday life.

Posted at 5:00 am

Alice Girard Bosse

Alice Girard Bosse
The press

Three months after the loss of her mother to COVID-19, Suzanne Ménard is sending a clear message: the pandemic is not over and we must continue to protect ourselves. “People think that the virus no longer exists. They are lifting the sanitation measures, but people are still dying,” she said.

His mother, Jeannine Hamelin, a healthy 95-year-old woman who had been vaccinated three times, lived at Résidence de la Gappe in Gatineau. “She was old, but she had no physical problems. No heart disease or diabetes,” her daughter says.

In the middle of the fifth wave, about twenty residents contracted the virus. She was part of it. In the first days of the infection, she was doing well. But everything changed on January 21. In the morning, Suzanne Ménard received a phone call: on the phone, her mother in distress asked her to call an ambulance.

mme Ménard says he had a bad feeling. “I was convinced she would die,” she says. On the way to the hospital, Jeannine Hamelin lost consciousness. When she arrived at the hospital, the doctors and family came to the obvious: she needed to be released.

“I wish everyone would wake up and wear the mask. It’s important,” she says.

Insensitive to death

About 3,200 Quebecers have succumbed to COVID-19 since early 2022. In the coming days, Quebec will exceed the bar of 15,000 deaths from the virus. Have we become desensitized to death after so many tragedies? Very likely, answer the experts consulted by The press

“At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was sitting on the end of their seats trying to figure out what was going on. We were constantly monitoring the numbers, the number of cases and the deaths. But over the months there was a transition. We have forgotten the faces behind these numbers,” notes the D . onr Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and microbiologist at McGill University Health Center.


PHOTOGRAPH EDOUARD PLANTE-FRÉCHETTE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

the dr Donald Vinh in 2017

Overexposure to data, coupled with pandemic fatigue, has led Quebecers to view deaths as numbers, argues the Dr vinh.

Medical anthropologist at the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INPQ), Ève Dubé, also shares this view. “A number of deaths are easy to avoid if you don’t think about it. If it’s not our parents, our grandparents, it’s still very abstract,” she says.

Effect on sanitation measures

This trivialization of figures is not without consequences, the experts say.

If we are not afraid of contracting the disease, we are much less motivated to change our behavior.

Ève Dubé, INSPQ medical anthropologist

In the studies she has been conducting with the INSPQ since March 2020, she notices that the perception of the risks of COVID-19 continues to decline.

In the field, the Dr Vinh also observes him daily. “There are patients who are in hospital because of COVID-19 and are not paying attention. They don’t wear the mask, they need to be reminded of it and they argue,” he laments.

This also applies to some employees of his hospital. “They walk in the hallways without a mask. A few meters away, however, we treat patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19. There is a disconnect. It makes no sense,” said the doctor.

Experts remind that the pandemic is not over yet, hence the importance of continuing to respect the health measures.

“There are still people who are very sick from COVID-19. We must continue to respect the measures, especially in confined spaces,” concludes the Dr Vinh, adding that it’s never too late to get your vaccine doses, if you haven’t already.

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