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New COVID-19 screening clinics open in Montreal after long lines, cases linked to bars

Click to play video 'New COVID-19 screening clinics open in Montreal after long lines, cases linked to bars' New COVID-19 screening clinics open in Montreal after long lines, cases linked to bars
WATCH: The move comes after five-hour-long wait times have been recorded at clinics like the Hotel-Dieu facility in the city’s Plateau area. Global's Amanda Jelowicki reports – Jul 16, 2020

Two new walk-in screening clinics for the novel coronavirus opened in Montreal on Thursday morning following outbreaks in the city’s bars.

The clinic in Outremont is set to accommodate residents without an appointment from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and the Louvain mobile clinic on St-Denis Street will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until July 19.

The move comes after five-hour-long wait times have been recorded at clinics like the Hotel-Dieu facility in the city’s Plateau area.

The long lines began to emerge after public health authorities asked that all patrons and employees who have been in a bar in Montreal since July 1 be tested for the virus. As of Tuesday, authorities had reported at least 30 infections tied to nine different bars.

“A strategy is being implemented to significantly increase the capacity of walk-in screening clinics throughout the territory of Montreal,” a government press release issued Wednesday reads.

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Vincent Goulet is one of the several dozen people who lined up at 8 a.m. at the Beaconsfield walk-in clinic. The Montreal native decided to make a trip west of the island to avoid the crowds.

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“I was afraid of the long lineups and decided to come here earlier to avoid them,” he said.

Click to play video 'New West Island testing centre opens to meet demand' New West Island testing centre opens to meet demand
New West Island testing centre opens to meet demand – Jul 16, 2020

Read more: New walk-in coronavirus testing clinic to open in Montreal as mayor criticizes long wait times

Goulet followed public health officials’ requests after he discovered he had been in contact with a person who contracted the virus following a visit to a bar in the city last month.

Starting Thursday, according to public health authorities, the city will have the capacity to carry out more than 1,000 additional screening tests.

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Dr. Richard Massé, Quebec’s public health strategic medical adviser, said on Wednesday that authorities are trying to ramp up testing in Montreal.

Premier François Legault said Tuesday that the province has the capacity to conduct up to 16,000 tests per day.

According to public health authorities, 12,887 tests were conducted on July 14, the last day for which data is available.

Read more: Quebec green lights reopening office buildings at limited capacity amid COVID-19 pandemic

Montreal has been the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in Canada, with more than 27,000 cases to date. The health crisis has killed 3,427 people on the island.

As of Thursday 142 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the province for a total of 57,001 people infected. Nine new deaths were added and one other occurred before July 8. That brings the total number of deaths in Quebec to 5,646.

— With files from Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines and Kalina Laframboise