The first death related to the novel coronavirus in Quebec was confirmed on Wednesday by the province’s premier.
François Legault said the person who died was a senior who lived in Lanaudière and had been in contact with people who travelled abroad.
“I want to give my condolences to the family and their loves ones,” he said from a news conference in Quebec City.
There are now 94 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province. Six people are hospitalized and four of them are in intensive care, according to Legault.
As of Wednesday, more than 3,600 people are awaiting test results and 5,213 individuals have been given the all clear.
Legault stressed that the province’s health-care system is prepared but he warned Quebecers to not let their guards down in the coming weeks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“The battle will be hard,” said Legault. “The battle will be long, but I am certain that we can win it.”
Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of Quebec’s public health department, is asking the public not to use masks to prevent COVID-19.
He said they should be reserved for medical personnel and people suffering from the disease.
Sweeping measures, border closures
As the number of cases continues to rise across the country, stricter travel measures were announced on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the borders between Canada and the U.S. will be temporarily closed to non-essential traffic.
In Quebec, the recent spike in cases has pushed the government to call on young people to heed public health authorities’ advice and stay home. Legault is also asking individuals to avoid unnecessary outings and large gatherings.
The Legault government has rolled out a series of sweeping measures aimed at containing the virus. The province has closed schools, banned indoor gatherings of more than 250 people and urges seniors older than 70 to stay home.
In a bid to limit the economic impact of COVID-19, the province has extended the deadline to file taxes. It is also offering financial aid to workers not eligible for employment insurance.
While it has been a confusing time for many Quebecers, retired health-care workers have emerged to help combat the virus. Legault said on Tuesday that 10,000 doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals have stepped up to help.
The City of Côte Saint-Luc, an on-island suburb in Montreal, has declared a state of emergency. In a statement, city officials say they plan to limit religious and mass gatherings to contain the virus.
In Montreal, the city is lending its employees to help a large food bank as it deals with a shortage of volunteers.
— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier, Mike Le Couteur, David Lao and the Canadian Press