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Quebec backtracks and reinstates daily coronavirus updates

Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's director of Health, speaks to the media at the daily COVID-19 press briefing Monday June 8, 2020 in Montreal.
Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's director of Health, speaks to the media at the daily COVID-19 press briefing Monday June 8, 2020 in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian PRess

Quebec public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda announced Friday that the province will be reinstating daily COVID-19 updates as of Monday.

On Wednesday, Quebec said it would end daily updates this Friday and, starting July 2, would only release weekly numbers on coronavirus cases, tests and deaths.

Arruda pointed to a stabilization of the epidemiological situation as the reason why health officials would only be providing weekly updates.

Read more: Quebec to stop providing daily COVID-19 updates favouring once-a-week format

The move caught many by surprise and led to public outcry.

Some, including Prime Justin Trudeau, expressed concern surrounding the issue of transparency.

“In Quebec, there are still a significant number of cases every single day and a significant number of deaths every single day,” Trudeau said on Thursday.

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“I certainly hope Premier Legault would continue to be transparent and open with Quebecers and, indeed, all Canadians as he has been from the very beginning.”

Coronavirus: Trudeau responds after government announced it will no longer release daily COVID-19 updates
Coronavirus: Trudeau responds after government announced it will no longer release daily COVID-19 updates

On Friday, Arruda said he and Christian Dubé , the newly-minted health minister, had changed their minds and didn’t want to give the appearance of withholding information.

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“We both agreed that it might be better to publish them, especially since people were asking for them,” he said.

“It’s really not for reasons of lack of transparency. We have nothing to hide. We had no intention of manipulating the data during the week.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Bars, hotels, spas allowed to reopen as Quebec enters final phase of deconfinement

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Arruda indicated he wasn’t expecting the backlash.

“I probably under-evaluate the impact,” he said.  I was thinking that people don’t want to hear about COVID-19 anymore but that’s not the case, so let’s adjust.”

Dubé took to social media Friday afternoon saying they had heard the backlash. He also defended the government’s handling of the situation.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our government has always been transparent and we will continue.”

— With files from Global’s Katie Dangerfield