Montreal

COVID-19 in Quebec: Province up to 2,840 confirmed cases, but premier sees encouraging signs

"Public health authorities are telling us that our efforts are paying off, so don't give up," François Legault said at his daily news conference in Quebec City.

Public health director says it's still too early to ease restrictions

'Public health authorities are telling us that our efforts are paying off, so don't give up,' Premier François Legault said at his daily news conference in Quebec City. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)
  • Quebec has 2,840 confirmed cases and 22 deaths attributable to COVID-19. Seventy-two are in intensive care.
  • Montreal, which is under a local state of emergency, has about half of those cases with 1,361.
  • A drive-thru testing opened in Côte Saint-Luc today. Pedestrians are asked to use the clinic at Place-des-Festivals instead.
  • Travel into certain regions with vulnerable populations is being restricted by police checkpoints.
  • A first case has been reported in Nunavik, Que., according to the regional health authority.
  • The Quebec government has made physical distancing instructions available in more than a dozen languages, including Arabic, Creole and Yiddish. 

Quebec Premier François Legault said Sunday that the number of new COVID-19 cases in the province appears to be "stabilizing."

There are now 2,840 confirmed cases in the province, an increase of 342 or about 14 per cent from the day before. Daily increases in cases last week had been over 20 per cent.

There are currently 192 people hospitalized. The number of dead remains at 22.

"Public health authorities are telling us that our efforts are paying off, so don't give up," Legault said at his daily news conference in Quebec City.

It was just over two weeks ago that Legault declared a public health emergency in the province, imposing an escalating series of measures to distance people from each other as much possible.

Experts had said it would take at least two weeks for the effects of physical distancing to begin appearing in the provincial statistics. 

Public health officials in Montreal also said Sunday that the rate of increase in the city had stabilized in recent days, even though there is "sustained community transmission."

Montreal and the Eastern Townships have been the two areas in Quebec hardest hit by the outbreak.  

Legault urged the public not to move between different areas in the province. Police checkpoints have been set up to prevent non-essential travel outside of southern and central Quebec.

Those more remote areas have lower per-capita infection rates, and Legault said "we want to keep it that way." 

Police forces allow a food truck through a closed highway 175, Sunday, March 29, 2020 north of Quebec City. Highway 175 heading to the Saguenay region is closed to protect regions from the COVID-19 pandemic. Only essential services and residents of the region are allowed through. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Not yet time to party: Arruda

Quebec public health director Horacio Arruda said today's numbers were encouraging, but added that "we can't draw conclusions based on one day."

Arruda said that while the number of new cases didn't grow as rapidly over the weekend, "we have still not attained the plateau."

Watch Arruda demonstrate how he wants to see the trend of infections move:

Watch Dr. Horacio Arruda explain how the province is trying to slow the spread of COVID-19 to avoid overwhelming the health-care system. 1:08

But if the trend continues, he said, the province should avoid the worst-case scenarios it had been preparing for. 

He thanked those conducting tests, working in labs and ensuring health-care workers have the equipment they need.

"I hope that we are going to have a big party all together when things are going to be over," he said.

More measure to protect elderly

Health officials remain very concerned about outbreaks within elderly and long-term care homes. There have been several outbreaks in such facilities already, and they account for a number of the deaths.

Legault said he will announce more measures on Monday to further limit who can enter these homes.

(CBC)

The premier appeared more upbeat than usual at Sunday's news conference. He had taken a day off yesterday, his first since the crisis began. 

He said he was happy to see that people's spirits were up when he took a walk through Quebec City the day before.

"Keeping our physical distance, we are closer than ever," he said.

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