Montreal COVID-19 case numbers steady but school outbreaks on the rise, surgeries being delayed

The spread of COVID-19 in Montreal has hit a plateau of roughly 250 new cases a day, but some pockets of the city are harder hit than others and 93 schools are experiencing outbreaks.

Public health officials intervene in Montreal neighbourhoods where up to 15% of tests are positive

A woman walks past a COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal where public health officials are encouraging everybody to do their part to reduce community transmission. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The spread of COVID-19 in Montreal has hit a plateau of roughly 250 new cases a day, but some pockets of the city are harder hit than others and 93 schools are experiencing outbreaks.

One school, Ali Ibn Abi Talib in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, even had to close for two weeks as of Thursday, announced Montreal's public health director, Dr. Mylène Drouin, on Friday.

She said workplace transmission is becoming less of a problem, but "we're still seeing an increase in schools."

Schools account for most of Montreal's 236 current outbreaks, Drouin said.

Some 62 workplaces have COVID-19 outbreaks of fewer than 10 people. There are 14 community outbreaks and 23 in long-term care facilities, Drouin said.

She called on everybody to do their part in the coming weeks to bring the number of new cases down — reducing close contact with others and following public health recommendations.

"For me this plateau is uncomfortable because it is a high plateau," said Drouin,

"At the end of the plateau, there are two options: It goes up or it goes down. Of course, we all want to see it going down."

Some neighbourhoods hit harder than others

Reducing transmission will make it easier for public health authorities to lay out new guidelines by Christmastime, Drouin said.

For now, public health is increasing screening and putting more effort into building awareness in Côte Saint-Luc, Snowdon, Côte-des-Neiges, Parc-Extension and the Saint-Laurent borough, she said.

Up to 15 per cent of tests come back positive in some of these hotspots, she said.

It is important that people continue to get tested and keep track of who they are in close contact with, so others can be warned of the risk.

WATCH | Drouin says community spread continues in Montreal: 

Montreal has reached a high plateau of COVID-19 cases, public health says


30 days agoVideo
Montreal public health director Dr. Mylène Drouin thanks residents for obeying red zone restrictions, but says community spread continues. 0:50

The population must be careful in workplace and social settings — wearing a mask and staying two metres away from each other.

"Because it is really in those contexts that we are seeing people who are less vigilant, at work or with friends," Drouin said. 

Short-staffed health network is fragile, officials says

The situation in Montreal hospitals continues to be stable with 156 people in hospital, including 26 in intensive care, said Sonia Bélanger, head of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.

That's 17 more in hospital and nine fewer in intensive care, she said.

There are cases in about 15 senior centres and other types of long-term care homes, but there are no large-scale outbreaks.

"We can see the situation is under control, but the network is still under pressure," Bélanger said. "That's why we must continue to be very careful."

Among the concerns, she said, is the effect a sudden rise in cases would have on short-staffed hospitals and long-term care homes. 

"In Montreal, about 45 people are waiting for surgery," said Bélanger. "This is why we are again asking for Montrealers' cooperation to protect our network."

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