Long-term care facilities that are hard hit by the novel coronavirus still need a helping hand even as hundreds of health-care professionals and the Canadian Armed Forces provide assistance, Quebec’s premier said on Monday.
François Legault once again appealed to medical specialists to work in understaffed nursing homes for a two-week period at full-time capacity.
“Our national emergency is what it happening in our CHSLDs, our residences,” he said.
As a result, the province is delaying all non-urgent care in hospitals in order to allow more health-care workers to work seniors residences. He reassured patients with cancer and heart problems that their surgeries, if deemed essential, will go ahead as planned.
Legault said 2,000 people are needed to work in the homes, where the majority of the province’s coronavirus deaths have occurred.
There are 19,319 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in Quebec. The province saw 62 new deaths on Monday, for a total of 939.
The respiratory illness has led to more than 1,000 hospitalizations, and there are 198 people in intensive care.
Montreal remains the region with the highest number of infections at 8,964. The surrounding areas of the Montérégie and Laval have 2,366 and 2,095 cases, respectively.
Aside from prioritizing long-term care homes, provincial public health is focusing on Montreal, which has been described as the epicentre of the virus. Director Horacio Arruda explained it’s important to ease restrictions slowly for that reason.
“In Montreal we are still having active transmission in the community,” he said. “So, it’s why we want to be very careful.”
Schools remain off limits as other services slowly resume
As tight social-distancing measures and a partial lockdown continue in the province, Legault also said he doesn’t think schools will open on May 4 as planned.
“So far we don’t expect to reopen the schools for the next two weeks,” he said. “After that, we don’t exclude any scenario.”
In Quebec, post-secondary institutions, schools and daycares have been closed since March 16 in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The plan is to start by slowly reopening businesses before schools get the green light, according to Legault.
“We will start with companies,” he said. “We can’t open everything at the same time in the fall. It would be risky from a health perspective.”
While most of the province’s non-essential services and schools remain shuttered, the residential construction industry partially resumed on Monday morning.
Aside from construction, all necessary work to complete the delivery of residential units scheduled before July 31 is permitted. This includes renovations, surveying and building inspections.
The province’s automobile insurance board, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), is also gradually restarting operations. However, in-person services are only available by appointment.
— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and the Canadian PressView link »