COVID-19 may keep Quebec students out of school until May, Legault says

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the province rises, Premier François Legault says it may be weeks before children return to school. As well, Loto-Québec is closing all of kiosks and sales terminals retail outlets. Here's what you need to know Friday.

There are now 139 confirmed cases in the province, 1 death, 1 recovered

Premier François Legault, right, and Horacio Arruda, Quebec's director of public health, have been providing daily briefings about COVID-19. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)
  • There are now 139 confirmed cases in Quebec, including 31 cases in Montreal. Provincewide, one person has died, and one person has officially recovered.
  • Call 1-877-644-4545 if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, instead of 811.
  • Loto-Québec is closing all of its kiosks and sales terminals, including retail locations such as convenience stores. Online sales will continue, but prizes will not be paid out in person.
  • The city of Côte Saint-Luc has declared a state of emergencyFour people have tested positive for the virus: three from a synagogue and one in an assisted living facility.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will be turning asylum seekers away at the U.S. border in an "exceptional measure" to protect Canadians.
  • Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has identified several places to house the homeless during COVID-19 crisis. 

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the province rises, Premier François Legault says it may be weeks before children return to school. 

During his daily news conference, Legault said while CEGEPs and universities will be able to resume classes online by March 30, it is "unlikely" children will be back in the province's schools by that date.

The new target resumption date is some time at the beginning of May, he said.

Quebec has 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon, with more cases coming to light in Côte Saint-Luc and across the province. Out of the 10 patients in hospital, six are in intensive care, Legault said.

The premier shut down rumours that Montreal and other regions will be put on lockdown and said the COVID-19 situation is under control, and efforts to fight the virus are working.

Addressing Anglo-Quebecers in English, he reminded people to stay home if they are feeling sick, wash their hands and avoid gatherings.

"Every action we make to limit physical contact will save lives," he said.

Quebec public health is asking people who were in the following public places to watch out for symptoms, as they may have come into contact with a person who has a confirmed case.

In Montreal:

  • The Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Library on Botrel Street, the children's section, on March 11 between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • The 24 bus in the westward direction, between the Hôpital Notre-Dame and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on March 12, between 10:30 a.m. and 10:50 a.m.
  • Restaurant Aunja on Sherbrooke Street West on March 12, between 12:25 p.m. and 1:05 p.m.

Elsewhere in Quebec:

  • The FADOQ Lavaltrie in Lavaltrie on March 11 between 12:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.
  • The Centre d'action bénévole de Berthier in Berthierville on March 12, between 10:45 a.m. and 3 p.m

With the approach of the weekend, Legault repeated his request that people avoid travelling from one region of the province to another, to limit the spread of the virus.

He said he will be staying put in Quebec City this weekend even though there is somewhere else he'd like to be.

"One of my boys, his birthday is Sunday and unfortunately, I won't be able to see him. He's in Montreal. I'm in Quebec City. But that's life." 

Quebec developing online triage tool

Health Minister Danielle McCann said the government is looking into creating an online triage tool to help people decide whether they need to be tested.

Similar tools have been developed elsewhere in Canada. McCann said Quebec's version is in development now, and her ministry hopes to have it working soon.

"It's really going to increase the volume of people who are going be sent to [get tested], but at the same time it's going to screen very well."

Within the health care system, a staff member at Montreal's Sainte-Justine hospital has tested positive for the virus. Everyone who came into contact with the person affected has been informed and is in isolation.

A member of the Granby hospital's clinical staff has also tested positive.

The health authority in the region said they are investigating to reach all the person's contacts, but could not say how many staff or patients may have come into contact with the confirmed case.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director, said there is a contingency plan in place and that service should not be interrupted in the area.

Someone at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital in Montreal also tested positive and went into self-isolation when symptoms appeared. The health authority said the risk of transmission was "very low" in the establishment.

A worker at the Anna-Laberge Hospital in Châteauguay, Que., on Montreal's South Shore, also confirmed positive after coming back on a trip, prior to March 12. The hospital said the worker only had one shift before self-isolating.