As COVID-19 numbers rise in Montreal's west end, public health officials beg residents to stay home

Côte Saint-Luc, as well as Côte-des-Neiges and LaSalle, are among the communities on Montreal island considered "hot zones," Quebec's director of public health said Friday.

Côte Saint-Luc among areas considered 'hot zones,' said Quebec's public health director

Dr. Mylène Drouin, director of public health for the Montreal region, says 46 per cent of the positive COVID-19 cases in Montreal are related to travelling (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Public health authorities say they are closely monitoring the high number of cases in the west end of Montreal and aren't ruling out special measures to contain the spread.

As of Thursday, close to 40 per cent of Montreal's 782 cases were in the west-central part of the city, including in Côte Saint-Luc, where work is underway to get a COVID-19 testing centre set up.

Quebec's director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said he's not ruling out special measures to contain the virus. 

Côte Saint-Luc, Côte-des-Neiges and LaSalle, as well as Parc-Extension, are among the neighbourhoods considered "hot zones," Arruda said Friday.

Arruda didn't rule out more specific restrictions for certain areas, including Montreal's west end.

"At this point there is no decision. Is there going to be a decision tomorrow, after tomorrow — or tonight? I cannot tell you," he said. 

"It depends on what is going on because in between the report we received yesterday and today there could be changes." 

Montreal's regional public health director, Dr. Mylène Drouin, said the median rate for Montreal as of Thursday was 36 cases for every 100,000 people. However, in some neighbourhoods like Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Outremont, that number is more like 150 to 200 per 100,000. 

Drouin said it still is not clear why the concentration is high in these areas, as it could be related to travel, more screening or related to groups of families. Health officials are investigating the matter, she said.

In Côte Saint-Luc, some of the confirmed cases came from people who attended weddings and gatherings at synagogues.

Earlier this week, dozens of doctors signed a letter urging all religious gatherings take place at home, without guests.

"We should all respect the recommendations," said the letter, posted by an association representing the Sephardic Jewish community. 

Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who declared a state of emergency in his city last week, said everyone is doing what they can to get the message out.

"In terms of the residences, each one is doing their job, in terms of not having communal dining anymore.. bringing the food into their apartments," he said.

One case of COVID-19 was confirmed last week in the King David assisted living facility in Côte Saint-Luc. (Jay Turnbull/CBC)

Please tell the truth, nurse urges

Dana Breger, a nurse practitioner at the CLSC in Côte Saint-Luc's Cavendish Mall, stressed anyone who has been abroad must follow the public health guidelines and stay home.

She said a patient turned up the clinic recently and didn't immediately reveal they had been away.

"I just want to urge to people listening of the impact this could have on our staff," she said on CBC Montreal's Daybreak, explaining that they take precautions if someone is deemed a risk of carrying COVID-19.

"I also want people to know that even if they have travelled they can still get care."

Sue Montgomery, borough mayor for Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, said she is open to additional measures to help contain the spread. 

"We have to do everything we can to stop this," she said.

"Any steps we can take to stop people from moving from place to place, I'm all for that."

About the Author

Benjamin Shingler is a journalist with CBC Montreal. Follow him on Twitter @benshingler.

With files from Daybreak and Sudha Krishnan

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