Cases of novel coronavirus in Quebec have climbed to 12,292 on Saturday, as worries about residents in long-term care centres continue to grow.
Quebec Premier François Legault announced 48 more deaths, bringing the total death count to 289. There are currently 778 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 211 in intensive care.
While Legault said the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) has steadied, due to help from other provinces, there is a looming mediation shortage in the province. The premier said there are about 20 medications that the province only has one week’s worth left.
The provincial government’s main focus has however shifted to the elderly and staff in long-term care facilities (CHSLDs), where the situation is dire.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services has taken over management of a privately-owned long-term care facility, Résidence Herron in Dorval, following a recent outbreak of cases. The Quebec government said it discovered on Friday evening that 31 people have died at the care centre since March 13.
Six other CHSLDs, in particular, are being severely affected by the highly-contagious virus according to Legault: The CHSLD Laflèche in Shawinigan, CHSLD of Sainte-Dorothée in Laval, Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci in Montreal, CHSLD La Pinière in Laval, CHSLD LaSalle in Montreal and the Alfred-Desrochers Pavillion in Montreal.
The province added on Friday that it will also no longer be transferring patients to CHSLDs.
Legault said he believes this crisis is highlighting that Quebec doesn’t take good enough care of its elderly, due to a shortage of workers and low wages in the private sector. He called for seniors in the province to be treated with more dignity.
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.
As for the rest of the population, 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.
Legault said he would not give the ok for schools to reopen until public health says it’s safe.
The Quebec government equally announced on Friday that all events — including all festivals — will be cancelled until August 31.
— With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise and The Canadian Press