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Quebec coronavirus cases surge to 1,013 as partial shutdown looms

Quebec officials provide update on COVID-19 outbreak.

The number of coronavirus cases in Quebec has surged to 1,013 as the province faces a weeks-long economic shutdown.

There are 67 people in hospital and 31 of them are in intensive care as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the province’s premier.

“Our priority for the next three weeks is to avoid contagion,” said François Legault.

The jump in cases — up 385 from Monday — comes as all Quebec businesses, other than those considered to be essential services, have been ordered to close as of midnight on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Quebec’s number of coronavirus cases nearly tripled in one day: what’s going on?

The province announced the partial shutdown, which will last until April 13, on Monday in hopes of slowing COVID-19 infections.

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As a result, only grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other essential services are allowed to remain open over the next three weeks. The province-run liquor and cannabis stores will also stay open.

Positive COVID-19 cases jump in Quebec
Positive COVID-19 cases jump in Quebec

Legault said on Tuesday he knows the growing economic uncertainty is leaving some business owners and employees in stressful situations, but it won’t last forever.

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“All of this is temporary,” he said.

READ MORE: Mayor of Quebec town that has seen all of province’s COVID-19 deaths feels left in the dark

While the province has rolled out restrictions over the past two weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials are asking Quebecers to do their part and stay home.

Coronavirus: Health minister wants Canadians to understand seriousness of COVID-19 crisis
Coronavirus: Health minister wants Canadians to understand seriousness of COVID-19 crisis

The measures are strict and demanding but they are necessary in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, said Legault.

“The faster we limit contagion, the faster we will save lives and return to a normal life,” he said.

In Quebec, there have been four deaths linked to the virus. The victims were all seniors who lived in the same residence in Lavaltrie.

As of Tuesday, 2,500 people are awaiting test results and 12,202 individuals have been given the all-clear.

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New drive-thru clinic draws thousands on first day

A new drive-thru clinic in downtown Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles district attracted thousands of people on its first day.

The clinic, which opened to the public on Monday, drew more than 3,600 individuals seeking COVID-19 testing.

Montreal’s public health department said that 2,172 people were tested, while 1,486, who did not meet the criteria for testing, were turned away.

Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec premier orders closure of all non-essential businesses
Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec premier orders closure of all non-essential businesses

In order to be eligible for testing at the clinic, individuals must:

  • have travelled outside the country since March 1,
  • have had symptoms in the last 14 days, or
  • have come into contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19.

The centre is expected to significantly boost testing in Montreal during the pandemic.

With files from the Canadian Press