Quebec’s premier warns the next few weeks will be critical in the province as schools reopen and he is calling on the public to do their part in limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus.
François Legault said the number of new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has been on the rise for the past two weeks.
“The virus is still lurking all over Quebec,” he told reporters in Montreal on Monday. “We absolutely must prevent it from rising again.”
The province saw 140 new cases Monday, for a total of 62,492 infections since the pandemic began. Legault said the uptick in new infections in recent weeks hasn’t been linked to a single cause, but people have been letting their guards down over public health measures.
As a result, the province is asking people to respect physical distancing, wash their hands frequently and wear masks when necessary. Health Minister Christian Dubé also hinted at fines for those who flout the measures.
“I’m asking you to respect the rules,” Legault said.
Legault’s plea comes as thousands of students head back to school. Those in the Montreal area are returning to class for the first time since March, when the months-long closures started.
There have been positive cases in schools since they resumed last week. More than 80 students in Quebec City are in isolation after three cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at two high schools, according to the local health agency.
In a school north of Montreal, four teachers have tested positive for COVID-19.
Legault said there will be cases in the education system, but that Quebecers owe it to children to do their best to keep the number of cases low in order to keep schools open and not go back to strict lockdown measures.
“We have a challenge ahead of us so it’s important to come back to our discipline,” he said, adding that “above all” he doesn’t want to close schools.
Quebec also recorded two additional deaths linked to COVID-19 on Monday. One of the deaths occurred in the last 24 hours and the other took place earlier in the month.
To date, the respiratory illness has killed 5,760 Quebecers. The province continues to lead the country in both caseload and fatalities.
The number of hospitalizations dropped by four from the previous day. There are 112 people in hospital. Of them, two more patients are in intensive care as of Monday for a total of 18.
— With files from the Canadian PressView link »