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Quebec rolls out temporary financial aid program as number of coronavirus cases climbs to 50

Quebec rolls out new measures to help businesses struggling amid coronavirus outbreak
WATCH: As coronavirus cases continue to climb in Quebec, the province has rolled out new measures to mitigate the economic impact of the disease. Global’s Raquel Fletcher explains.

There are 50 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the province, Quebec Premier François Legault announced on Monday afternoon.

There are 3,073 people awaiting test results and a little more than 3,000 tests have come back negative. As the number of cases continues to climb, the province is asking the public to be careful and limit their outings.

“Every action counts,” Legault said during a news conference in Quebec City.

The government also announced measures to mitigate the economic impact of the outbreak, especially on individual workers.

A new temporary program is being set up to financially support workers who are not eligible for other income replacement programs and who are affected by containment measures.

The government is offering up to $573 a week for those in self-isolation who are unable to work. Workers can receive the weekly stipend for up to one month.

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A form will be available as of Thursday on the Quebec government’s website and the government is promising a two-day processing period to ensure quick financial assistance.

Legault said there are also plans set up a loans program for businesses to help them weather the current crisis.

Additionally, the government is focusing on speeding up public investments in the areas of health, transportation and education in a bid to stimulate the economy.

As an example, Legault cited infrastructure projects such as building or expanding hospitals to increase the capacity of the health-care network.

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While the premier would not say the province is heading into a recession, he did say we can expect an economic slowdown. Legault, however, maintained the government is taking the appropriate measures.

“The basic principle of economics is that when the private sector withdraws it is important to stimulate the economy with the public sector,” he said.

As the province ramps up measures, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canadian borders would be closed to foreign travellers in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Montreal-area food banks struggle to cope with COVID-19 restrictions

After repeatedly calling on Ottawa to intervene, Legault said he is pleased with the decision to limit access to the country. However, he is reminding Americans who are exempt from the provision to self-isolate for 14 days.

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“I think it’s a big move,” he said. “I’m happy about it.”

Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann said the province has enough tests available to check for COVID-19. However, the government will open new centres on Tuesday that will be able to process more than 6,000 tests per day, up from 1,600.

Legault also appealed to Quebecers to donate blood to ensure stockpiles are not depleted as people avoid going out.

Montreal dispatches local health-care workers, police to airport

Travellers arriving at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Montreal will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks and take their temperatures twice per day as the number of cases continues to climb in the province.

Montreal, public health authorities aim to inform travellers at airports over coronavirus outbreak
Montreal, public health authorities aim to inform travellers at airports over coronavirus outbreak

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and Dr. Mylène Drouin, the director of the city’s public health department, said police officers and local health-care workers will be present to educate travellers coming off domestic and international flights as of Monday afternoon.

“It is really, really important to respect these recommendations,” Drouin said. “If you travel abroad, stay home, avoid contact and watch your symptoms.”

Their hope is to raise awareness about the importance of COVID-19 mitigation measures. Plante said now is the time to act and work together to contain the spread of the virus and protect the public.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Montreal officials to be deployed to airport ‘to secure the frontier’
Coronavirus outbreak: Montreal officials to be deployed to airport ‘to secure the frontier’

“Throughout this difficult time, I want to assure Montrealers that the city is willing to do its part to help everyone remain safe,” Plante said.

The move comes as the federal and provincial governments are asking everyone to cancel all non-essential international travel and are urging Canadians to return home while they still can.

People across the country are also being asked to apply important measures to slow down and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, including going into self-isolation for 14 days upon returning home from any international travel and/or if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.

“The situation is serious,” said Plante, adding that travellers have a collective responsibility to help contain the spread of the virus.

READ MORE: Montreal taxi drivers feel economic ripple of coronavirus outbreak

— With files from Global News’ Dan Spector and the Canadian Press