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Quebec, province hardest hit by health crisis, tops 50,000 coronavirus cases

WATCH: Quebec premier provides update on province's COVID-19 measures

Quebec has reached another grim milestone in the novel coronavirus outbreak as cases topped 50,000 on Friday.

The province, which is the epicentre of the pandemic in Canada, recorded 530 new infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, from the previous day. Quebec now has 50,232 cases.

The novel coronavirus has been linked to 4,363 deaths since the health crisis began, up 61 from the day before.

READ MORE: Quebec least worried in North America about a second coronavirus wave, poll finds

The number of hospitalizations has dropped by 66 to 1,265. As of Friday, 172 patients are in intensive care a decrease of six.

Montreal, a hot spot for the disease, accounts for more than half of the province’s cases at 25,043. There have been 2,690 fatalities recorded on the island.

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Premier François Legault said on Thursday that while Quebec is slowly re-emerging from the crisis, long-term care homes are still grappling with outbreaks and deaths.

“The situation remains fragile,” he said.

Quebec expresses hope soldiers will stay in care homes until September
Quebec expresses hope soldiers will stay in care homes until September

On Friday, Legault adressed the question of military personnel working in long-term facilities and ongoing discussions with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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In April, more than 1,000 Canadian Armed Forces members were sent to lend a helping hand to the facilities hardest hit by the pandemic following a request for help from Legault.

The premier hopes the teams will prolong their stay in Quebec until mid-September, but Trudeau reiterated on Friday that soldiers in nursing homes was not a “long-term solution,” but a “short-term fix.”

Nonetheless, Legault said he sensed an opening on Trudeau’s part.

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“He said he would like to discuss that with me soon and he understands that we need those people until mid-September,” Legault said.

READ MORE: Quebec long-term care homes grappling with major challenges, military report outlines

Earlier this week, Legault pledged to offer paid training in hopes of recruiting 10,000 orderlies to start working in long-term care homes full-time in September.

Training is expected to take place from June 16 to Sept. 15.

“It will be little tight,” Legault said, if the army were to leave before then.

Trudeau for his part said the federal government would continue to work with Quebec to find solutions and allow the province to regain control over senior care.

Despite the situation in long-term care homes, Legault noted that the number of new cases has been dropping in recent days, even as the province has boosted tests to about 14,000 a day.

The news, he said, was good enough to announce that hairdressers, nail salons and other personal care businesses would be able to open in the Montreal area on June 15.

Legault said that while he’s been able to rely on his wife for haircuts, some people aren’t so lucky.

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The premier said he believes haircuts can be performed safely, as long as both parties wear a mask and wash their hands.

Quebec’s strained care homes need new workers to be trained
Quebec’s strained care homes need new workers to be trained

—With files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ Annabelle Olivier