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

Quebec's director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, offered more details on the province's testing for COVID-19, which has faced criticism from experts as the province opens up.

Dr. Horacio Arruda promises more testing as the province reports record job losses

Quebec public health officials are urging people to wear face coverings when it is difficult to maintain a safe distance from others. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The latest:

  • Quebec has 36,150 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 2,725 people have died. That's 94 more recorded deaths from a day earlier.
    There are 1,827 people in hospital, including 207 in intensive care. Here's a guide to the numbers.
  • The reopening of schools, daycares and businesses in Montreal has been postponed by a week.
  • Quebec's unemployment rate has soared to 17 per cent, the highest ever recorded.
  • By mid-May, there will be 1,350 soldiers deployed in Quebec — a mixture of medical staff and general troops, covering 25 long-term care facilities.
  • Montreal's public transit agency, the STM, says it will gradually increase the frequency buses and Metros over the next few days. 

A nurse who worked at a long-term care home where there was a COVID-19 outbreak is thankful that she persisted when at first she was denied a screening test.

Kristy-Lyn Kemp can't believe how close she came to potentially starting a COVID-19 outbreak at her new job.

She lied when calling the provincial hotline for a second time, saying she had symptoms when she did not.

After testing positive, she's concerned others are falling through the cracks, too.

More testing still needed

Quebec's director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, offered more details on the province's testing for COVID-19 on Friday, which has faced criticism from experts as the province opens up.

He said that testing in the Montreal area, including Laval and parts of the Montérégie, Laurentians and Lanaudière regions, remain public health's main concern.

Mobile screening stations are being deployed, and anyone with symptoms such as fever, cough, trouble breathing or sudden loss of taste or smell are asked to call 1-877-644-4545 to be directed to a testing site.

"We are in a situation that is constantly evolving. We don't know what tomorrow will be made of," said Arruda at a news conference alongside Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and other officials. 

The province is currently testing about 10,000 people a day, Arruda said. He expects the province to soon reach its goal of 14,000 per day — a target that was supposed to be met today.

Younger grandparents can care for grandchildren 

Quebec grandparents under 70 years old will be allowed to see and even care for their grandchildren

It's the latest measure to ease restrictions on seniors in the province. 

The Legault government made the announcement after it assured elementary school and daycare workers between the ages of 60 and 70 they could return to work, despite having initially said people over 60 were at-risk.

But Quebec's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said it's best if families keep the visits to a minimum and only when necessary. 

Record job losses

The COVID-19 crisis has decimated Quebec's economy, with the province recording its highest unemployment rate since at least 1976, when the data was first tracked.

The province's economy lost an estimated 821,000 jobs in April, bringing the unemployment rate to 17 per cent.

Quebec now has the highest unemployment rate of all the provinces. Read more here.

Montreal reopening pushed back

The reopening of elementary schools, daycares and some retail stores in the Montreal area has been pushed to May 25. 

Montreal's hospital beds are nearly all full and there are still severe staffing shortages across the health-care network.

Asylum seekers, facing uncertainty, work on front lines

Hundreds of health-care workers, especially those working in long-term care homes, are asylum seekers who have no guarantee their refugee claims will be accepted. 

Sarah is one of many asylum seekers in Quebec working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as orderlies in long-term care homes. She caught the disease caused by the virus in mid-April. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

CBC spoke with one woman who is an asylum seeker from Haiti living in Montréal-Nord with her four-year-old daughter, who is an orderly at a private residence in Ahuntsic. 

The woman caught COVID-19 and was bedridden for eight days. She has been working as an orderly in the province for the past year and hopes the federal government will recognize her contribution, and that of hundreds of others doing similar work, and let them stay in Canada. 

"I hope the government will hear our calls, hear our voices," she said. 

CBC Montreal's translator

On a lighter note, meet the interpreter who has been guiding you through all the news conferences of the pandemic in Quebec. 

Carmen Figueroa Sotelo has been interpreting all the news conferences for English audiences since the beginning of the crisis.

Meet the interpreter behind the voice

CBC News Montreal

1 year ago
Carmen Figueroa Sotelo has been interpreting all the news conferences for English audiences since the beginning of the pandemic in Quebec 2:30

Other info you should know

Quebec announces new bonuses for front-line health-care workers in fight against COVID-19

Quebec police investigating possible link between cell tower fires and 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories

As Quebec opens up, Canada's top science adviser questions province's lack of COVID-19 testing

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