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‘Good days are coming,’ Quebec premier vows as coronavirus cases climb, ICU numbers fall

WATCH: Quebec officials provide an update on elder care during COVID-19 crisis

Quebec’s premier struck a cautiously optimistic tone as he announced the province is nearing the peak of the novel coronavirus pandemic as cases climbed to 11,677 but the number of patients in intensive care dropped.

“What I want to say today is courage,” said François Legault during his daily briefing on Friday. “Hope is there. Good days are coming.”

The province recorded 25 more deaths attributable to COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities to 241.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec officials outline plan for seniors amid COVID-19 pandemic' Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec officials outline plan for seniors amid COVID-19 pandemic
Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec officials outline plan for seniors amid COVID-19 pandemic – Apr 10, 2020

The illness has led to 733 hospitalizations. There are 186 people in intensive care as of Friday — a decrease of 10 from the day before.

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“What we’re seeing is the number of people in hospitals and intensive care is stabilizing,” Legault said.

READ MORE: What’s open and closed in Montreal for the Easter weekend

The Quebec government is focusing its efforts on six long-term care facilities (CHSLDs) where the situation is critical, he added. Legault stressed that the priority is protecting seniors as the majority of victims have been over the age of 70.

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Legault also admitted that there will continue to be deaths in the coming days, especially in hard-hit seniors residences, before the situation improves.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: 25 COVID-19 deaths reported in Quebec, provincial total now at 241' Coronavirus outbreak: 25 COVID-19 deaths reported in Quebec, provincial total now at 241
Coronavirus outbreak: 25 COVID-19 deaths reported in Quebec, provincial total now at 241 – Apr 10, 2020

The province will also no longer be transferring patients to CHSLDs, he added.

“I can tell you that we will do all we can to save the most amount of people in CHSLDs,” he said.

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On Friday, Quebec’s health minister Danielle McCann and seniors minister Marguerite Blais announced a new plan to protect seniors and vulnerable people amid the COVID-19 pandemic. McCann said it would include increased screening, prioritizing facilities that currently have outbreaks, and increasing support to health care workers.

Blais also named Dr. Quoc Dinh Nguyen, an internist geriatric physician who specializes in epidemiology of the elderly, as their special adviser during the pandemic.

The Quebec government has not ruled out reopening schools and daycares earlier than planned — but Legault said no decision has been made yet as the pandemic remains an evolving situation.

“We will follow it day by day,” he said.

The province implemented sweeping measures aimed at fighting the quick-spreading disease since March 12. Non-essential services, schools and daycares are closed until at least May.

The public is asked to abide by physical-distancing rules and there are stiff penalties in place for violators. All gatherings are also prohibited until further notice.

The Quebec government equally announced on Friday that all events — including all festivals — will be cancelled until August 31.

READ MORE: Some Montreal health-care workers say they were turned away at banks, pharmacies over COVID-19

On Friday, Legault said Quebecers have played a role in lowering the number of deaths and hospitalizations by obeying tough restrictions.

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“We have made, of course, significant economic sacrifices, but we did that for the most vulnerable,” said Legault. “I think that it speaks to us as a people.”

“We can be proud of this decision which was — or at least I felt anyway — supported by the whole population.”

Legault has adopted a cautiously-hopeful tone over the past week. He said the number of hospitalizations has fallen, in line with public health officials’ projections.

The modelling for Quebec shows that the province could see anywhere between 1,200 to nearly 9,000 deaths by the end of the month. The peak is expected on April 18.

With files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ Alessia Maratta

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