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Quebec reports 707 new COVID-19 cases, three more deaths
The first of four Quebec health authorities linked to a salmonella outbreak has reported the addition of 707 cases and three more deaths.
On Wednesday the province’s health board said a change in the way epidemiologists counted suspected cases in that region meant there was more accurate and timely information on the extent of the outbreak.
The initial Health Department report in September said 573 people in the French-speaking province had been affected by the foodborne illness, triggering the testing of hundreds of possibly contaminated restaurants in the region.
The Food and Drug Agency in Canada announced on Tuesday that the pathogen had been found at seven facilities in Quebec. On Tuesday evening the province reported 300 additional cases and two additional deaths linked to the contamination.
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The state-controlled Société québécoise de développement intégré (SODI) said it had only detected the presence of salmonella on eight sites out of almost 500 – not including the public health institutes that it directly liaises with.
The agency said it would continue tests of affected premises to determine how many other items may be contaminated.
The SODI president, Frank Fortin, acknowledged the quick action of health officials who launched widespread tests when they realized a salmonella outbreak was imminent and that the pace of detection is a small part of the overall problems, which include not enough inspectors and inadequate infrastructure for sanitary inspections.
“This could be considered as a small issue when looked at in the context of [the multi-billion dollar] taxpayer-funded system,” he said.
State-run health authorities in Quebec and the US have identified nearly two dozen different facilities that may have handled compromised food sources, leading them to test dozens of products made by at least six companies. The Canadian corporation Vigilance Farms was included.
Salmonella is the No1 cause of foodborne illnesses in the US and third most common cause of foodborne illnesses worldwide. In the US each year about 1.2 million people get sick and 450 die.