Quebec schools could remain closed until May as coronavirus cases climb to 139

Click to play video: 'Quebec government says health network is equipped with what it needs'
Quebec government says health network is equipped with what it needs
WATCH: Quebec's premier said the province's health network has all the equipment it needs for the short-term outbreak of COVID-19. The premier admitted the province is preparing for the worst case scenario, while hoping it can keep the spread of the virus under control. Raquel Fletcher reports – Mar 20, 2020

Quebec Premier François Legault has announced there are 139 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus as of Friday afternoon.

Ten people are hospitalized and six of them are intensive care. About 2,400 people are awaiting test results, and nearly 7,700 individuals have been given the all-clear.

The situation remains under control, said Legault, but he noted the coming weeks will be difficult.

“We can’t give up,” Legault said.

READ MORE: Côte Saint-Luc urging public to take precautions after COVID-19 cases confirmed in community

While Quebec schools are closed until March 30, Legault said it is likely elementary and high school students will only return to school at the beginning of May.

“We are looking at different scenarios,” he said.

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In a bid to contain the virus, Quebecers are being urged to stay home as much as possible. Aside from closing schools, the province has banned large indoor gatherings and shut down non-essential services.

In anticipation of overcrowding, the province has also freed up 4,000 beds in the health-care system by cancelling elective surgeries.

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The Quebec government is also moving up some public infrastructure projects in a bid to help construction workers laid off in the private sector.

Legault said the projects will continue “with the necessary precautions.”

Individuals frequented places in Montreal, Quebec

Public health authorities also announced on Friday that individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 were in several public places in Montreal over the past week.

People who were in the following areas at the same time are being asked to monitor for symptoms:

  • The 24 bus headed westbound on Sherbrooke Street between Notre-Dame Hospital and the Fine Arts Museum between 10:30 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. on March 12
  • Aunja Restaurant between 12:25 p.m. and 1:05 p.m. on March 13

Outside of Montreal, public health said people who contracted the virus had visited places in Lanaudière.

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The people both frequented locations in Lavaltrie and Berthierville:

  • FADOQ in Lavaltrie between 12:15 p.m. and 3:35 p.m. on March 11
  • Centre d’action bénévole de Berthier in Berthierville between 10:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March 12

Quebec taps hotels to help

Hotels in Quebec are preparing to ease a looming burden on the province’s health-care system over COVID-19.

Public health authorities are in discussions with hotels located near hospitals about the possibility of offering up accommodations for patients.

READ MORE: Trudeau says irregular migrants will be turned away at Canada-US border

The Association Hôtellerie Québec said in a statement that hotels would take in patients who are not contagious and have minor health issues while hospitals treat individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Xavier Gret, president of the association, said hoteliers are mobilizing because they want to help fight the outbreak.

“It should, however, be understood that we have no indication to predict the effort that will be required for this purpose,” he said in a statement.

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With files from the Canadian Press

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