COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know on Wednesday

The federal government is working on a special program that would grant permanent residency to asylum seekers who have worked in health-care roles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asylum seekers working in CHSLDs could get permanent residency

Ste-Catherine Street has been widened with flexible posts, signs and cement blocks in some areas so people can can stay two metres apart during the pandemic. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

  • Quebec has 53,341 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 5,081 people have died, an increase of 156 cases and 52 deaths from a day earlier. The government says 27 of the newly reported deaths took place before June 2 .
  • There are 914 people in hospital (a decrease of 47), including 117 in intensive care (no change). Here's a guide to the numbers.
  • The Montreal Botanical Garden will reopen on June 15; admission is free for those under 17 until Aug. 31.
  • Small indoor gatherings and dining in restaurants will be allowed, with certain restrictions, starting June 15 in most of the province and June 22 in Montreal.

Data released by the Quebec Health Ministry Wednesday indicates 156 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported, bringing the total to 53,341 confirmed cases in the province since the start of the pandemic.

It is the third straight day that the government has reported fewer than 200 new cases.

There are 52 more deaths recorded, 27 of which occurred before June 2 but were previously unreported, the government says. The total number of deaths from COVID-19 in Quebec now stands at 5,081.

The provincial government is not holding a news briefing related to the pandemic today.

Ottawa preps program for asylum seekers

The federal government is working on a special program that would grant permanent residency to asylum seekers who have worked in health-care roles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary federal measure is expected to apply to asylum seekers living in all the regions of the country. It's unclear how many people would benefit, but most would likely be in Quebec.

The program, first reported by Radio-Canada, would not be limited to people who worked in long-term care homes, known in Quebec as CHSLDs, but to all asylum seekers who have been working in the health sector, including security guards.

A family tragedy

On Tuesday, Quebec crossed the 5,000 mark for deaths caused by COVID-19. Désiré Buna Ivara, a father of five who was finishing a doctoral degree in health and society at the Université du Québec à Montréal, was one of them.

His wife, Amoti Furaha Lusi, was among many employees and residents infected in an outbreak at a long-term care home in Dorval, where she worked as a patient care attendant. Before long, every member of her family was also stricken with the disease, and it hit Ivara the hardest. He ended up in a hospital.

"I told him, 'Please hang on, I'm expecting another child,'" Furaha Lusi said. "But it didn't work. After 72 hours, he was gone." Ivara died on May 21. 

Bar owners agitate

Bar owners in Quebec are still in the dark about when they will be allowed to reopen.

In most of the province, dine-in establishments — those with a permit to serve prepared food —  have the go-ahead to reopen starting June 15. (Those within the Montreal area will have to wait until June 22.) But no date has been set for bars.

Some Quebec bar owners say they may resort to civil disobedience if the provincial government doesn't give them the green light soon.

Dr. Richard Massé, a senior public health adviser to the province, said the concern is that people are more likely to forget about physical distancing rules and practising proper hygiene when they are out drinking and dancing. 

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