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Quebec seeks volunteers during health crisis as coronavirus deaths climb to 8

Premier François Legault and government officials update the province's response to COVID-19 pandemic within the province.

Quebec’s premier is calling for volunteers to help the province weather a mounting health crisis sparked by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Premier François Legault confirmed two more people have died of COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities up to eight.

Cases climbed to 1,629 as of Thursday afternoon — up 290 from the previous day. More than 100 people are hospitalized and 43 of them are in intensive care.

“It’s not exaggerated to say that we are living the biggest battle of our collective lives in Quebec,” Legault said. “We are capable, we will win this battle but in order to be able to, we have to follow the battle plan.”

READ MORE: Montreal has close to 50% of Quebec’s COVID-19 cases

As organizations that offer essential services face an unprecedented crunch, the Quebec government is urging the public to donate their time and volunteer.

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“There is a desperate need for volunteers,” said Labour Minister Jean Boulet. “There are people who are available because of the economic situation. There are people over the age of 70 who volunteered.

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“I’m told that everywhere, in all regions of Quebec, there is an immense need. And today we appeal to the solidarity of Quebecers in this context to meet the needs of community organizations.”

READ MORE: How is Canada planning to enforce mandatory self-isolation?

Volunteer activities include making calls to seniors, getting groceries for people with disabilities and providing household help for those in need.

The province has partnered with more than 1,500 community organizations to provide help during the crisis. Anyone who wants to volunteer can sign up online.

Use food banks if you need them, Legault says

The province has tightened restrictions over the past two weeks in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, including a partial shutdown that forced the closure of non-essential businesses until April 13.

The pandemic has also wreaked havoc on Canada’s economy, leading to layoffs in different sectors. Nearly a million Canadians have applied for employment insurance in the past week.

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Legault said on Thursday that he knows many Quebecers are suddenly jobless, but he promised more measures are on the way to help food banks meet higher demands.

The premier added that people who are relying on food banks in order to get by during the crisis shouldn’t be ashamed.

“There is no embarrassment,” he said. “It is not your fault that you lost your job.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Legault calls for volunteers amid COVID-19 pandemic
Coronavirus outbreak: Legault calls for volunteers amid COVID-19 pandemic

With files from the Canadian Press