Quebec's first specialized COVID-19 clinic opens in Montreal

The first of three planned specialized COVID-19 screening clinics opened in the shuttered emergency room of Montreal's Hôtel-Dieu Hospital as Quebec's fifth presumptive case of an infection was identified.

Province identified fifth presumptive case of coronavirus Monday

A security guard wears a protective mask in front of the new COVID-19 clinic which is now open at the site of the former Hôtel-Dieu Hospital. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The first of three planned specialized COVID-19 screening clinics has opened in the shuttered emergency room of Montreal's Hôtel-Dieu Hospital Monday — the same day that Quebec's fifth presumptive case of an infection has been identified.

Quebec's Health Ministry says this fifth presumptive case was a man who had been recently travelling. A sample has been sent to Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for confirmation.

Health Minister Danielle McCann said rather than just showing up at one of the new screening clinics, people who feel they have symptoms of COVID-19 should call Info-Santé 811 first to speak with a nurse.

At that point, if the nurse feels they may have the virus, they will book an appointment for the caller to be screened at one of the specialized clinics.

"The risk of contracting the virus is still low, but we are taking all necessary precautions to act quickly in a preventive and safe way for all," McCann said Monday.

The Montreal specialized clinic will be open seven days a week for 12 hours per day. 

For those who do not live close to one of the new centres, Info-Santé nurses may direct them to a local emergency room for screening instead. 

McCann said people can also call 1-877-644-4545 for any general questions or concerns about the coronavirus not related to their individual health.

She said the clinics will offer several specialized services, including screenings and blood tests.

Similar clinics in Quebec City and the Montérégie will open March 11 and March 16 respectively.

The Quebec City clinic will be located adjacent to the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec.

The Montérégie screening facility will be in a separate room of the Azur Clinic in Greenfield Park. 

McCann said the government will continue to monitor the situation and will open more clinics if the need arises. The doctors and nurses at these specialized facilities have been shuffled around from nearby health centres. 

McCann is also urging people to avoid visits to long-term care facilities and hospitals if they have recently returned from travelling and have have symptoms. 

"At this point, what we're saying is that if you come back from a trip anywhere in the world, maybe it's better you wait 14 days before seeing someone in a CHSLD," said McCann.

Over the weekend, Quebec's Health Ministry announced another presumptive case of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total of confirmed and presumptive cases in the province to four.

Health Minister Danielle McCann gave an update Monday on the steps the province is taking against COVID-19. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

EMSB urging parents to talk about COVID-19

The English Montreal School Board issued is asking parents to take steps to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus as students return from March break.

It is asking anyone who travelled to the regions hardest hit by the outbreak — China, Iran, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, Japan and Singapore — within the last two weeks to stay home and call Info-Santé at 811, even if the child has no symptoms.

The EMSB is also urging parents to speak to their children about the coronavirus with caution to avoid creating panic or anxiety, and is reminding parents to review proper hand-washing techniques with their children.

The note addresses school trips — one group had a trip to Italy postponed just hours before students were set to leave, angering some parents.

The board says that proved to be the right decision. Other trips have been modified to avoid some of the regions most affected by the outbreak.

CSDM encourages good hygiene

The Comission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), the city's largest school board, says it is monitoring the situation closely in collaboration with government authorities.

"Even if the risk of contracting the virus is considered low in Quebec today, caution and prevention are essential," the board said in a letter to parents Monday.

"The health and safety of students and staff of the CSDM are our priorities."

The letter reminds parents that everybody should be washing their hands and maintaining good hygiene practices. And, like the EMSB, the board urges parents to teach these practices to their children.

Lester B. Pearson initiates 'enhanced cleaning'

Lester B. Pearson School Board, which serves the West Island's English community, says it has added "enhanced cleaning practices" to its regular cleaning routines.

It also encourages hand-washing and talking with children about not just practicing good hygiene, but also to help calm anxiety that may be developing around news of COVID-19's spread.

Parents, students and staff who have or are traveling overseas are encouraged to regularly monitor Canadian travel advisories. 

"We believe it will take a collective effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19," the board says on its website.

"We remain committed to monitoring this situation and keeping you informed."


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