Montreal public health ‘worried’ after city sets record by topping 600 new coronavirus cases

Pedestrians protect themselves from the cold and COVID-19 as they wait for a light to change, Tuesday, November 3, 2020 in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Montreal public health authorities are sounding the alarm over the rapid progression of the COVID-19 pandemic after reporting its highest daily tally of new cases with 648 on Thursday.

Dr. Mylène Drouin, director of the city’s public health department, described the evolving health crisis as “worrying” amid an uptick in infections and hospitalizations.

She says the positivity rate has risen to seven per cent and there is “sustained” community transmission of the novel coronavirus in Montreal.

“In the last week, it is a significant increase,” she said, referring to the number of cases in the city.

Read more: Long-term care homes were ‘blind spot’ in preparing for COVID-19 crisis, Quebec ombudsman says

The majority of new cases are among school-aged children and seniors over the age of 80, according to Drouin. Some neighbourhoods are harder hit than others, including Parc-Extension, Côte-des-Neiges and Montreal North.

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There are 268 outbreaks of COVID-19 in the region, including in schools, workplaces and daycares but Drouin qualified them as mostly small and largely under control.

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Health authorities are concerned, however, about the outbreaks in health-care facilities such as long-term care homes and private seniors’ residences.

Sonia Bélanger, head of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, says hospitalizations linked to the virus are starting to quickly climb.

There are 1,000 beds in total across the region’s network to accommodate patients and more than 100 reserved in intensive care units. Authorities have prepared for several scenarios in the upcoming weeks, she added.

Read more: Quebec’s COVID-19 surge puts pressure on hospitals as some experts call for temporary lockdown

Bélanger says there are 279 people in hospital, including 41 patients in intensive care units, as of Thursday. She says the numbers are accelerating every day.

“It’s a serious increase,” she said.

Bélanger also pointed out that there are more than 300 health-care workers who have contracted the virus, while 450 are awaiting test results.

As the second wave of the health crisis evolves, public health authorities are calling on Montrealers to be careful and abide by measures in place to curb the spread of the virus.

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“We have to reduce our contacts,” she said.

Montreal has been hard hit by the pandemic, accounting for just under half of Quebec’s total caseload with 55,908 cases. The virus has led to 3,688 deaths in the city since March.

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With files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez