Quebec has reached a grim milestone as more than 5,000 people have died during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The province recorded an additional 45 fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 5,029.
“The message I have is I’m sorry,” said Premier François Legault during his daily briefing. “I’m sorry for the decisions that have been taken or not taken for the last 10, 20 years.
“Of course, we are sad for the families that are close to these people — 5,000 deaths is a lot.”
The majority of the victims, about 4,500 of them, lived in long-term care homes, according to Legault. The health crisis has bore down on those facilities and forced a spotlight on the province’s embattled elder-care system.
Legault said the rising death toll — which accounts for more than of half Canada’s fatalities attributable to the virus — shows the government “must do better in the future.”
Quebec has 53,185 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, after 138 new infections were reported from the previous day.
However, the number of hospitalizations has declined to 961 and patients in intensive care dropped to 117.
Legault said the patterns of daily numbers are encouraging, but Quebecers must continue respecting public health guidelines in order not to trigger a second wave of infections.
“We have to restart the economy without restarting the pandemic,” he said.
The province, which is the hardest hit by the health crisis in the country, is continuing to loosen restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
On Monday, the government announced restaurants will be permitted to open up dining rooms beginning next week in most of Quebec. Montrealers will have to wait until June 22.
Indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from a maximum of three households will also be allowed starting next week.
Preparing for a second wave
Health Minister Danielle McCann confirmed the government has appointed a deputy minister to take a closer look at the situation in Montreal, the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in Canada.
“We really want to understand what happened in Montreal in terms of co-ordinating activities,” she said.
McCann said the province wants to “make adjustments” when it comes to testing and improve delay times in the hard-hit city.
The move comes as the government prepares for a potential second wave of infections as parts of the province reopen. Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of public health, said the first wave isn’t necessarily over and it would be dangerous not to be ready for a second spike in cases down the road.
“A second wave can be even more complicated, just to let you know, because it will unfortunately come with the season of other respiratory viruses and influenza,” he said.
— With files from the Canadian PressView link »