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Coronavirus: Quebec deaths climb by 79, total fatalities surpass 3,500

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Quebec recorded 79 new deaths on Sunday, bringing the total COVID-19 death toll in the province to 3,562.

The number of cases in the province has increased to 42,920 with an additional 737 new cases confirmed May 17. Health officials say 1,766 people are hospitalized due to the virus, including 183 in intensive care.

READ MORE: Provinces slowly reopen as Quebec surpasses 40,000 coronavirus cases

There are 3,300 individuals under investigation and 11,754 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Quebec.

The number of people in the province who have tested negative for the virus now stands at 290,192.

Montreal remains the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, accounting for 21,717 — over half — of the province’s total cases. On Saturday the city announced it was extending its state of emergency until May 21.

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Quebec government announces healthcare whistleblower email address

On Saturday the Quebec government said it created a new email address where health-care workers can confidentially share what is happening on the ground during the COVID-19 crisis.

Health Minister Danielle McCann announced the new anonymous tip address, onvousecoute@msss.gouv.qc.ca, in a press release which said it will allow health workers to confidentially report issues to the government.

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On Friday, McCann acknowledged that there appeared to be a code of silence preventing health-care workers from speaking up. She said she “lifted the omerta” code on May 1 when she said she would soon announce a new avenue for health sector staff to voice their concerns and experiences.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec deaths climb by 82, health-care whistleblower email announced

The Fédération interprofessionnel de la santé du Québec (FIQ), Quebec’s healthcare workers union, is not in favour of the measure announced by the health minister. The union said this new email address actually works to limit the freedom of speech of health professionals.

“This is the third time since the beginning of the year that the minister has announced the end of the omerta and it means absolutely nothing,” said FIQ president, Nancy Bédard.

“The government says it wants news from the field, but it does not respect the professionals in the field, it does not listen to them, and this is yet another way to silence [health-care workers].”
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In the press release, the health minister assured that all communication with the email address will remain confidential.

“I invite [health-care workers] to not hesitate to inform us of their experiences so that we can respond more effectively to the needs of Quebecers,” McCann said in the press release.
–With files from The Canadian Press 
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