The COVID-19 crisis has now claimed 1,446 lives in Quebec, with an additional 106 deaths announced on Saturday. The number of confirmed cases in the province has risen to 23,267.
There are 1,509 people in hospital with the virus, including 217 in intensive care.
According to officials, 2,610 people are currently under investigation while more than 5,050 people who previously tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered. Over 167,490 tests have come back negative.
Montreal remains the epicentre of the outbreak in the province, counting 11,161 cases as of Saturday.
Quebecers experiencing ‘2 different worlds’ as virus strikes long-term care homes, premier says
Quebec’s premier says the province has the novel coronavirus pandemic under control but that long-term care homes remain at the heart of the health crisis.
“We are experiencing two different worlds,” said François Legault during his daily briefing on Friday.
The majority of Quebec’s COVID-19 deaths have originated in nursing homes.
The government’s focus remains on protecting seniors and bolstering staffing in long-term care centres, where the situation is critical, according to Legault.
After pleading for help from military and health-care professionals to assist in residences, the province urged all people who are able to work full-time to sign up online. They are eligible for $21.28 per hour.
“I hope it will draw a lot more people, thousands of people,” said Health Minister Danielle McCann. “At the beginning, we needed expertise. Now, we need people.”
As the crisis continues to unfold, Legault said that one of the lessons he has learned is that seniors’ homes need a revamp. He has also asked for the construction of new centres to be accelerated.
Legault noted that facilities need more space and health-care workers and suggested possibly dropping the term “CHSLD” altogether, which he described as “bureaucratic.”
“In the next few months, you will see that I want to fix the situation,” he said.
The premier also didn’t exclude placing privately-run residences under the care of the government, but he said he will be taking a deeper look into the situation.
Legault said while the COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities are happening in other countries, that doesn’t excuse the emergency transpiring in Quebec’s nursing homes.
“It’s like setting fire to a haystack,” he said, referring to the virus’s progression in seniors’ residences.
Quebec can slow virus, not stop it completely
As the government prepares to present its plan to allow businesses and schools to progressively reopen, Legault said it’s important that the province moves slowly.
“As I said yesterday, we won’t reopen next week, but we will announce the timeline so everyone can prepare themselves,” Legault said.
While the details of the plan will only be revealed next week, Legault added that the province will “test every week” to ensure it isn’t moving too quickly.
Legault added that while widespread restrictions and closures have slowed the rate of contagion in most of the province, the virus will still exist until there is a treatment.
“We needed for a certain period of time to slow the spread of the virus,” he said. “But we know very well we won’t have a vaccine for a year or two probably, so we cannot ask people to stay inside for a year or two.”
However, Legault noted that Quebecers need to continue abiding by physical-distancing measures that were implemented in March.
“We are winning the battle against the first wave of contagion but the war against the virus is only beginning,” he said. “We must continue our efforts.”