Quebec health authorities say coronavirus patient used Montreal, Longueuil public transit

Julie Loslier, director of Montérégie's public health department, left to right, Quebec director of public health Horacio Arruda, Montreal public health director Dr. Mylène Drouin, speak at a press conference in Montreal on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephanie Marin

Quebec public health authorities say a person who contracted the novel coronavirus used public transit in Montreal and the south shore while they were potentially contagious.

The announcement, which was made on Tuesday, comes as the province deals with four confirmed cases and one presumptive case of COVID-19.

The individual in question — the fourth in Quebec to be diagnosed with the virus — used the Montreal Metro and buses in Longueuil on Feb. 24 and March 6. A full list of dates, times and locations can be found online.

Commuters who used public transit during those times are being asked to monitor themselves for coronavirus symptoms. This includes fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

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Health authorities, however, said the risk of transmission remains low.

“We don’t want people to panic,” said Julie Loslier, director of Montérégie’s public health department. “The risk is low.”

Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, said there are no new cases in the province as of Tuesday afternoon.

“We are following the situation very, very closely,” he said.

Quebec wants to protect the elderly

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Quebec Premier François Legault said on Tuesday that he wants to protect the elderly from COVID-19.

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He called on people with flu-like symptoms to avoid retirement homes in order to limit the spread of illness — one day after Canada reported its first death related to the disease.

Older Canadians are at risk of developing coronavirus complications. Health Canada says that in severe cases, infection can lead to death.

Legault said he launched a “special call” for Quebecers to pay attention to seniors.

‘Alert mode’ in Montreal

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced the city’s civil security department is in “alert mode” on Tuesday amid concerns about the coronavirus.

Plante said on social media that the situation is under control in Montreal but that global spread is “evolving very quickly.”

The city’s civil security and the organization for civil protection of the Montreal agglomeration are preparing a plan to ensure that services remain intact “in case the situation worsens.”

“These are internal measures to ensure the resilience of our services,” wrote Plante.

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The move comes as Quebec opens clinics designated to evaluate and test individuals who recently travelled and believe they may have contracted COVID-19. .

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The province’s health ministry, however, has said the clinics are complementary to the four hospitals appointed to treat the new coronavirus. Health Minister Danielle McCann said the risk of transmission remains low.

Plante, for her part, echoed health authorities’ recommendations and asked Montrealers to adopt preventive measures, including efficient handwashing.

Hospital advises employees to limit travel

A children’s hospital in Montreal is advising staff to limit travel in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

Administration at the Sainte-Justine hospital issued an internal memo this week saying employees should only travel if necessary.

Health-care workers who have travelled to areas hard hit by COVID-19 — including central China, South Korea, Iran, Egypt, Japan, Singapore, northern Italy and France and Seattle in the U.S. — in the past two weeks are also asked to stay home from work.

The hospital has also recommended staff forego any professional trips.

READ MORE: What are coronavirus symptoms? In mild cases, just like the common cold

With files from the Canadian Press

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