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Quebec confirms 9th case of COVID-19 as WHO declares pandemic

Quebec’s opposition parties are worried the CAQ government is not prepared for a coronavirus outbreak
WATCH: The 2020 budget may have seen an increase in spending, but none of that extra money has been set aside to deal with a major potential COVID-19 outbreak in the province, and that has opposition parties worried. Gobal's Raquel Fletcher reports.

Quebec’s health ministry confirmed a ninth case of the novel coronavirus in the province on Wednesday evening.

The province and public health officials are closely monitoring the situation after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a pandemic earlier in the day.

“Since the beginning, Quebec is proactive,” said Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann, adding the government has taken the necessary measures in the past few days.

As cases of the virus continue to quickly rise across Canada, the province is asking hospital staff to forgo travelling abroad, whether it is for personal or professional reasons.

READ MORE: WHO declares novel coronavirus disease a pandemic

Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of Quebec’s public health department, is also reminding people who think they may have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, to contact Info-santé at 811.

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People at risk, including the elderly and those who have compromised immune systems, are asked to be prudent.

“We have to be very vigilant,” he said.

While the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, health officials say the “risk of transmission of the disease in the community remains low.”

Commuters exercising caution on public transit after coronavirus concerns
Commuters exercising caution on public transit after coronavirus concerns

In Quebec, there are three specialized clinics and four hospitals designated to evaluate, test and treat potential cases of COVID-19.

Premier François Legault said earlier in the day that individuals with flu-like symptoms should not be in contact with the elderly. The public should avoid shaking hands with others to avoid the spread of the virus, he added.

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Students sent home at Howard S. Billings

The New Frontiers School Board, on Montreal’s south shore, issued a letter on Wednesday saying that 18 students and two staff members from Howard S. Billings High School have been asked to go home.

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The staff and students in question visited Italy during a three-day trip over March break. The school board says they will stay home until more information comes to light.

“The safety and security of our staff and students is always of our utmost concern and we are vigilantly monitoring the situation,” wrote Rob Buttars, the school board’s director general.

READ MORE: Trudeau announces $1B coronavirus response fund for provinces, territories

The Collège international Marie de France in Montreal has also suspended classes for students ages 15-17 since one student is suspected of having contracted the virus.

The private school, which follows France’s curriculum, said that if the student’s test comes back negative then classes will resume. However, if the student has COVID-19, classes will only resume in two weeks.

The measure is necessary to avoid a possible spread of the disease, according to the school.

It is the first school in Quebec to cancel classes in connection with the virus.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau announces $1 billion CDN national response fund
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau announces $1 billion CDN national response fund

With files from the Canadian Press

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