The health-care system in Quebec is facing a looming shortage of protective medical equipment as the total of novel coronavirus cases has climbed to 4,162.
Premier François Legault announced on Tuesday that six more Quebecers have died due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The illness has led to a total of 31 fatalities.
“These are not statistics,” he said. “These are real people.”
As the health crisis deepens, the province also saw its biggest jump in cases — 732 — in a single day. As of Tuesday, 286 individuals are hospitalized and 82 of them are in intensive care.
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A pressing concern for the government at the moment is that front-line workers could soon be without protective gear.
Legault admitted that will be a lack of key medical supplies in about three to seven days. He said the province is focused on preventing a shortage and asking people to only use masks when necessary.
“We hope our orders will come in soon,” Legault said.
He also thanked Ontario Premier Doug Ford for providing some of the supplies needed during the pandemic. He later clarified his comment to say some equipment that had been slated to go to Ontario would instead be sent to Quebec.
Amid the pandemic, Quebec’s health minister said the province is currently using “10 times more medical equipment that normal.”
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“So what we used in one year, we’re using in four weeks,” said Danielle McCann.
Montreal has nearly 2,000 cases
Montreal accounts for nearly half of the province’s cases, with 1,991 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The regional public health authority has began providing a breakdown of hot spots in the area online.
The Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Côte Saint-Luc and Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie boroughs have the highest number of cases at 182, 120 and 97 respectively.
However, there are 653 cases that have yet to be linked to any specific neighbourhood in Montreal.
Montreal firefighters no longer first at the scene for medical emergencies
Urgences-santé announced that only paramedics will be used as first responders in Montreal during the outbreak.
Montreal firefighters and Côte-Saint-Luc first responders will no longer be the first at the scene for medical emergencies.
Nicola D’Ulisse, president of Urgences-santé, called it an exceptional measure to protect frontline workers and the public.
“In the context of the current pandemic, all medical interventions are at risk for our frontline workers,” he said.
“This is why from now on we will only assign paramedics to medical interventions in order to limit the risks of contamination.”
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SAQ employee tests positive for COVID-19
An employee at one of Quebec’s alcohol outlets has a confirmed case of COVID-19, according to the the provincial Crown corporation.
The Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) said the employee last worked at the store on Fleury Street in Montreal’s north end on March 21. The individual was placed into self-isolation after he began experiencing symptoms of the virus on March 27.
“As a precautionary measure, the store where this employee worked has been thoroughly cleaned and all employees who had been in contact with him were also placed in preventive isolation,” the organization said in a statement.
The SAQ, which remains open during the partial lockdown in the province, said it is working closely with public health authorities.
— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and the Canadian Press