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Public health to set up coronavirus screening clinic in Mercier following outbreak

Jesse Thomas / Global News

The south shore municipality of Mercier will welcome a mobile coronavirus testing clinic on Thursday following an outbreak in the community of 14,500. 

Several businesses and restaurants were forced to close after employees contracted the virus. Mercier’s mayor made the request to bring testing to the community earlier this week, in an effort to slow transmission rates.

“I’m very happy to see how quickly public health responded to the city’s request,” said Mercier’s mayor Lise Michaud. “To have a walk-in clinic on our territory is really good news for our citizens.”

Read more: Coronavirus outbreak in South Shore after youth attend multiple parties, official says

The Monteregie public health agency is setting up the one-day clinic from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the René-Tougas community centre. 

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Five businesses in Mercier were forced to close on Wednesday morning, according to the mayor and two, including the IGA and McDonald’s, were able to reopen before the end of the day. 

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So far there have been 122 cases of COVID-19 reported in Mercier, 18 more since last week. But many suspect the numbers to be higher as hundreds await testing and results.

“We have no idea for now how many people are affected on our territory, all we know if that many people were in contact with infected people and it’s exponential now,” said Michaud. “But we don’t have numbers yet.”

Read more: ‘We will close your venue,’ Quebec’s health minister warns bars flouting coronavirus measures

The mayor hasn’t ruled out holding more clinics in the future but her council has no plans to make masks mandatory, unless it’s imposed provincewide by public health authorities.

“In fact, we talked about it at council last night,” said Michaud. “It would be a false sense of security to say on the territory of Mercier we will make masks mandatory inside public places while in other neighbouring municipalities it’s not.”

The mayor pointed out that the outbreaks in Mercier likely came from house parties in other municipalities. Michaud insisted they’re not on a “witch-hunt” but that authorities need to continue to trace the outbreaks in order to put a stop to them.

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She said she hopes people will voluntarily wear masks, respect two-metre physical distancing and, most importantly, avoid big parties.

“I hope we’ve learned from these mistakes,” Michaud said.