Quebec imposes travel restrictions on public employees as more COVID-19 cases confirmed

The Quebec government announced new measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19, as health officials reported more confirmed cases in the province. Here's what you need to know for Wednesday.

What you need to know Wednesday: Figure skating championships cancelled, staff at Notre-Dame in self-isolation

Trudeau International Airport in Montreal was practically empty Tuesday morning as travellers cancel their plans amid the COVID-19 outbreak. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The Quebec government tightened restrictions on the travel of public employees Wednesday to help curb the spread of COVID-19, as health officials reported additional confirmed cases in the province.

Health Minister Danielle McCann said there are still no confirmed cases in which a person contracted the virus inside Quebec. But she said the province is taking a "proactive approach."

She said public workers, including but not limited to health professionals, would not be allowed to travel internationally for work for the foreseeable future. The province is also advising them not to travel for personal reasons.

McCann said anyone with symptoms who recently returned from an at-risk country should call 811, though she noted the service has seen a spike in calls and wait times are up.

Here's a look at other key developments Wednesday: 

  • The World Figure Skating Championships, scheduled to be held next week in Montreal, have been cancelled. As of yet there are no restrictions on local public events, such as Habs games, but international public events will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's ​director of public health, said further restrictions are a possibility and will be evaluated "day by day."
  • Around 10 medical staff at the Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal were placed in preventive isolation after being exposed March 9 to a patient with COVID-19, Radio-Canada has learned. This is the same individual who used the public transit system between Feb. 24 and March 6.The patient was then transferred to the Jewish General Hospital. All personnel that were in contact with the individual, including several nurses and at least one doctor, will stay home for two weeks.
  • The province also announced that students and staff who were recently in at-risk countries are being asked to stay home for a period of 14 days. Schools are also being asked by the province to cancel any travel to countries deemed at risk. Parents are being asked to do the same.
  • The number of 811 calls per day has nearly doubled in recent days, up to 11,200, Quebec's Health Ministry said. The average wait time for a call Wednesday was 48 minutes, compared with the usual 12 minutes. The ministry is planning to increase staffing to deal with the higher demand.
  • A ninth case was confirmed Wednesday evening by Quebec's Health Ministry. The patient had recently travelled to Italy and consulted a doctor in the Eastern Townships.
  • In addition to the nine confirmed cases, more than 100 other people are under investigation. Those under investigation who are healthy enough are being told to go home and engage in self-isolation.