Quebec’s premier is vowing that all patients and staff in long-term care facilities will be tested for the novel coronavirus as the number of cases topped 10,000 on Wednesday.
François Legault said the province’s priority is to safeguard the elderly as residences are hard hit by COVID-19.
The illness has led to 25 more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 175. Legault said the majority of victims have been over the age of 70.
“I want us to mobilize — all of society, all Quebecers — to protect seniors,” Legault said during his daily briefing.
Aside from testing staff and patients, the province will also be deploying health-care professionals such as doctors, nurses and orderlies to long-term care facilities.
Health Minister Danielle McCann said more staff need to be added to all facilities across the province, not just those affected by outbreak. At least 450 doctors will be moved to residences immediately, she added.
“We think we have to really reorganize,” she said.
The rise in cases come after sobering scenarios from the province estimate that disease will lead to anywhere between 1,263 and 8,860 deaths by the end of the month. There could be 29,000 to nearly 60,000 cases by April 30.
The peak of the outbreak is expected in 10 days, on April 18, according to the model.
Public health officials were reluctant to provide exact figures, but they say the situation will likely be closer to the best-case scenario.
Legault, for his part, struck a cautiously optimistic tone about the projections and said Quebecers have been abiding by social-distancing measures.
“We can’t give up, we have to continue,” he said. “We started off right, we’re going in the right direction.”
Legault also warned that physical-distancing restrictions could last months, but he said that it appears the situation could be stabilizing.
“We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
In Montreal — which accounts for roughly half of the province’s COVID-19 cases — the city has extended its state of emergency once again.
The measure, which was implemented on March 27, was put in place to better provide for the city’s homeless population.
Over the past three weeks, the province has introduced expansive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. Non-essential businesses, schools and daycares are closed until at least May 4.
As part of the plan, gatherings have also been banned, and the government is clamping down on regional travel.
— with files from the Canadian PressView link »