Quebec Premier François Legault is urging young people to stay home amid 74 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the province.
“I was young once and I know there is a time we don’t listen to our elders but now it is critical,” he said from a news conference in Quebec City.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 2,900 people awaiting their tests results in the province and 4,778 tests have come back negative.
The actions of the public will help save lives, according to Legault. People should limit their outings to work and essential services.
“Unless it’s absolutely necessary, no gatherings,” he said.
The province is also asking business owners and employers not to ask absent workers for a doctor’s note. It is important to give travellers 14 days to self-isolate, according to Legault.
Dr. Horacio Arruda, the director of Quebec’s public health department, said the province is also beginning to see cases of COVID-19 within the general public that aren’t related to travel.
Many people may also have undetected cases of the novel coronavirus, he added.
“It is like that all over the world,” he said.
Quebec pushes back tax deadlines
The Quebec government is also extending the deadline to file taxes to June 1 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Finance Minister Eric Girard, who announced the measure on Tuesday, said the province is trying to help Quebecers amid uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. Under the plan, tax payments will not have to be made until July 31.
“We will be there for businesses and individuals,” he said, adding that more initiatives will be coming.
The measures, according to Girard, will immediately liberate about $7.7 billion worth of liquidity into the province’s economy. It will affect about two million individuals and 500,000 businesses.
Quebec has never been in a better position to ward off the economic sting of COVID-19, according to Girard. He also urged calm during an uncertain time.
“I know what crises look like,” he said. “I think it’s very important to stay clam, do the right things. We are going to need to do additional spending.
“We want to make sure this spending is efficient and effective.”
‘We have to lead by example’
As the number of novel cononavirus cases continues to rise, the province’s national assembly will be closed as of Wednesday until April 21.
The move comes as the province has been ramping up measures to combat the virus since late last week.
“We have to lead by example,” said Legault.
Among the 63 confirmed cases, a student from Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal and a student from Université Laval have reportedly been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Both schools made the announcement late on Monday.
In Quebec, new centres for COVID-19 testing are also opening Tuesday in a bid to contain the virus.
Health Minister Danielle McCann said the centres will allow for more than 6,000 tests to be conducted per day, up from 1,600.
Over the past week, Legault has ordered the shuttering of schools, banned large indoor gatherings and ordered the closure of cinemas, bars and other non-essential services.
— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher and the Canadian PressView link »