Montreal cases of COVID-19 could be peaking, says public health director

WATCH ABOVE: Montreal officials provide update on COVID-19 response.

The City of Montreal extended its state of emergency on Wednesday for another five days.

The measure was first introduced on March 27, in order to better provide for the city’s homeless population amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The local state of emergency grants the agglomeration exceptional powers. It allows the city to quickly mobilize material and human resources that are required in the fight against COVID-19.

Montreal remains the epicentre of the outbreak in Quebec, with 4,775 of the province’s 10,000 confirmed cases of the illness.

There have been 74 fatalities, 34 per cent of them occurring in government-run long-term care facilities known as CHSLD. The average age of the victims, according to Montreal regional public health director Mylène Drouin, is 82.

READ MORE: Quebec coronavirus cases top 10,000 as province boosts measures to safeguard seniors

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Long-term care facilities have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic. In Montreal, there are outbreaks in 46 CHSLDs and in 16 retirement homes.

The number of cases requiring hospitalization or critical care have stabilized or shown little increase, according to Drouin.

Quebec public health officials presented their projections of best and worst-case scenarios on Tuesday and estimated the number of cases could peak in the next 10 days.

In Montreal, however, the projections indicate cases could be peaking now.

“We consider that today, tomorrow and after tomorrow, we are really at the peak of the number of cases,” Drouin said. “That means the number of infected people in the community is likely at its highest.”

READ MORE: Quebec prioritizing care for seniors in hard-hit long-term care homes

Drouin warned that the number of cases requiring hospitalization is likely to increase in the next 10 days, as a result of the peak.

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“It takes about one week to 10 days before severe complications set in,” she explained.

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Drouin also reiterated the need to maintain social-distancing measures until the end of April.

“We can see the positive impact of our collective efforts, but we can’t let our guard down now,” she said, “especially when the number of cases are at their highest.”

Drouin said she understands the social-distancing measures can be difficult as families are dealing with various stressful situations due to the pandemic.

She highlighted various resources and programs at community health care centres (CLSC) to help both parents and children during these trying times.

“Don’t hesitate to reach out, health-care workers are there for you,” she said, adding there are also various groups that offer crisis counselling and other services over the phone or online such as Tel-Jeunes, LigneParents and Jeunesse, J’écoute.

Increased police presence over the long weekend

With the long Easter weekend ahead, and nice weather in the forecast, many might be tempted to head outdoors.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said there will be an increased police presence on its territory to ensure people respect social-distancing.

She also urged people to remain in their own neighbourhoods.

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Montreal police deputy director Sophie Roy commended Montrealers for their good behaviour so far.

Roy said police have approached around 4,000 citizens and only about 10 per cent of those interventions required the application of “more coercive measures.”

“It shows a great level of cooperation and support from Montreal citizens,” she said.

READ MORE: Montreal cancels all festivals, sporting events, public gatherings until July 2

On Tuesday, the city announced the cancellation of all festivals, sporting events and public gatherings until July 2.

“It was a very difficult decision to make, but it was necessary,” Plante said Wednesday.

She clarified, however, that the cancellation applied to events requiring permits from the city.

For things like amateur sports, day camps, meetings in parks and on terraces, the city says it is following provincial guidelines. Those activities could resume as early as May 4, barring any changes.