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Montrealers urged to respect health measures, answer contact tracing calls to stem COVID-19 tide

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante removes her face mask as she arrives at a news conference, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Montrealers are being asked to exercise caution and pick up the phone as the region enters a higher coronavirus alert level due to a recent surge in new cases.

Mayor Valérie Plante said Monday that the situation needs to be “taken very seriously” by everyone in the coming days to stem the tide of COVID-19 in the city and the province.

“It is up to us and all of us to do everything we can to limit the spread,” she said. “We can do it and we must do it.”

The call for vigilance comes after the Quebec government placed the region in the “orange” level on Sunday, which includes stricter measures for the area such as limiting the number of people allowed for private gatherings at home and public events.

Dr. Mylène Drouin, public health director for Montreal, said all COVID-19 indicators are worsening, suggesting the beginning of a second wave.

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There are 53 outbreaks on the island as of Monday. She said the number of cases is increasing quickly, but that the outbreaks are “small and mostly under control.”

Read more: Quebec at beginning of second coronavirus wave as cases jump, top doctor warns

There are 14 outbreaks in schools, but 12 of them are small, according to Drouin.

Drouin said the spread of the virus isn’t the same in every neighbourhood. Some areas such as Parc-Extension, Montreal North, Côte Saint-Luc, Outremont, the Atwater and Guy Metro stations and the Town of Mount Royal are more affected.

The jump in new cases is being driven by people under the age of 40, who Drouin said are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 but who can still transmit the virus to others who are more vulnerable.

The people becoming infected “are workers, those are the ones who bring the virus in the workplace, in elder homes, schools or kindergarten, so we have to be vigilant at this time,” she told a news conference.

Drouin said she needs Montrealers to pick up the phone to help flatten the curve. Officials say it’s been difficult to carry out contact tracing and that only one-third of the followup calls made over the weekend were answered.

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“We have to act right now to make sure we can control this transmission,” Drouin said.

Read more: Quebec City elementary school shutters for two weeks due to coronavirus outbreak

Montreal has been the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in Canada. Authorities reported 219 new cases Monday for a total of 31,528 infections to date.

Plante acknowledged people are tired of restrictions after six months, but she said it’s important to abide by public health directives.

“We need to continue the fight,” she said.

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Montreal-area high school forced to shut down to stem COVID-19 outbreak – Sep 17, 2020

With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines and the Canadian Press

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