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Quebec doctors heed province’s plea for help as coronavirus cases surpass 15,000

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec reports an additional 143 deaths, thanks 2,000 doctors for helping in long-term care homes' Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec reports an additional 143 deaths, thanks 2,000 doctors for helping in long-term care homes
Quebec Premier François Legault said on Thursday the death toll had risen to 630, but noted while the deaths increased by 143, it was due to a change in the reporting of deaths in the province. He said they were now combining all patient deaths, even those who did not test positive for COVID-19, but had signs they were infected to the total. He added a thank-you to doctors who responded to his calls for help in long-term care homes – Apr 16, 2020

Quebec’s premier says more than 2,000 doctors stepped up and answered his plea to help in overburdened nursing homes ravaged by the novel coronavirus.

“I’m very happy, I’m very touched and I want to thank the doctors who offered a helping hand in the CHSLDs,” said François Legault.

The assistance comes as the province saw its biggest spike to date in deaths attributable to COVID-19, bringing Quebec’s total number of fatalities to 630. The deaths include a doctor from the Monteregie region, but public health director Horracio Arruda said the victim wasn’t working in a health-care setting.

Legault said the majority of the 143 deaths announced on Thursday did not happen in a single day. He said the jump in deaths comes after the government changed its post-mortem tests.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Quebec desperately trying to save lives in floundering long-term care facilities' Coronavirus: Quebec desperately trying to save lives in floundering long-term care facilities
Coronavirus: Quebec desperately trying to save lives in floundering long-term care facilities – Apr 16, 2020

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The respiratory illness has led to 15,857 confirmed cases in the province — up 997 from the previous day. More than 1,000 people are hospitalized, and 209 of them are in intensive care.

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“As you can see, if we look at the situation in hospitals, the situation is under control and starting to stabilize,” said Legault, adding that the province’s priority is protecting seniors.

However, Legault said the lack of staffing in nursing homes remains his “biggest concern.”

“It won’t always be perfect, but it’s time to unite all together and win this collective battle,” he said.

The provincial government has also requested help from the federal government, with the possibility of the Canadian Forces providing assistance, but Legault said he is awaiting more details.

READ MORE: Montreal marks one month on coronavirus lockdown

On Wednesday, Legault had appealed to medical specialists and family physicians to help out in long-term care facilities. In Quebec, officials say there are at least 41 centres requiring special attention due to a high number of cases.

Quebec’s Collège des médecins, which monitors medical practices in the province, said doctors have a duty to respond to the crisis and heed Legault’s call.

In a statement, the order said on Thursday it “strongly encourages physicians to carry out any task related to healthcare where there is a glaring need, as is currently the case in CHSLDs.”

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The Quebec government has also once again extended its public health emergency until at least April 24.

The ministerial declaration, which was announced a month ago, was renewed on Wednesday evening.

— With files from Global News’ Mike Armstrong and the Canadian Press

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