The state of emergency in Montreal was extended on Saturday as the city continues to be the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in Quebec.
As of Saturday, Quebec has 29,656 confirmed cases, 14,599 of which are in Montreal. The province counted 114 new COVID-19 deaths from Friday, bringing the death toll to 2,136. 1,738 people are currently in hospital with the virus, including 222 in intensive care.
First announced on March 27, the state of emergency in Montreal has continuously been extended and is now set to remain in effect until May 5.
Issuing the state of emergency grants exceptional powers to the city, in particular with regard to the mobilization of its police force and other resources required to fight COVID-19.
On Friday, Quebec’s public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda announced the province’s new boosted COVID-19 screening strategy.
The number of daily tests will be considerably increased for different symptomatic groups of the population, totalling around 100,000 tests per week. Arruda said particular attention will be paid to Montreal North, where officials are observing significant community transmission.
As of Saturday, health officials say 6,965 people in Quebec have fully recovered from the novel coronavirus and 1,002 people are under investigation.
Retail stores are set to reopen as early as May 4 in the regions and May 11 in the Greater Montreal area. Primary schools and daycares are set to reopen on May 11 outside of the Montreal area, with the city following suit a week later.
As Quebec leads the country with the most cases of the illness and the highest number of fatalities, the government has been facing backlash from Quebecers worried the province is moving too fast.
Quebec Premier François Legault has maintained that the health crisis is unfolding in seniors residences but that the situation is mostly under control in the rest of society.
–With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and The Canadian Press