Your questions answered about COVID-19 in Quebec

Here's what health authorities want you to do if you feel sick, what will happen once you call 1-877-644-4545 and the steps in place to makes sure the spread of coronavirus is limited.

If you have symptoms call 1-877-644-4545 or visit Montreal’s downtown walk-in clinic

A woman wearing a face mask walks along a street in Montreal on Wednesday as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The situation in Quebec regarding COVID-19 is evolving. This story will be updated to reflect the latest recommendations from the province.

Here's what health authorities are asking you to do to help limit the spread of the virus.

What's closed, and why?

  • Schools, daycares, universities and CEGEPs will be closed until May 1.

  • Quebec's public health director, Horacio Arruda, said the measure is meant to reduce the spread of the virus. He said children are not at risk but likely to spread the virus to others.

  • Quebec Premier François Legault said the province has set up daycares for parents who work in health care and other essential services.

  • Bars, gyms, movie theatres, shopping centres and most other public gathering places are also closed. Restaurant dinning rooms are closed, but take-out is still an option. The measure is meant to limit social contact between people and reduce community transmission.

  • The Canadian-U.S.border is closed for all non-essential travel. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said visa holders and temporary foreign workers will still be able to get into Canada but once here, must self-isolate for 14 days. Premier François Legault said temporary workers can enter the province if they already have a job here, and companies will be permitted to transport workers in chartered planes.

Will I be compensated for work if I self-isolate?

  • Premier Legault has said all public sector workers who stay home will continue to be paid.

  • Quebecers who are self-isolating are eligible to receive $573 weekly if they do not qualify for paid leave from their employer or for employment insurance. The federal government has announced applications for employment insurance will be accelerated, to help people who cannot work because of the coronavirus.

What should I do if I have symptoms? 

  • If you suspect you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call Quebec's new information line at 1-877-644-4545 rather than calling 811, as that Info-Santé line has been overwhelmed by an increase in demand. You will be transferred to 811 if necessary, but expect long wait times.

  • The new COVID-19 line, 1-877-644-4545, has more than 500 trained nurses answering calls.

  • Montreal has opened a walk-in testing clinic at Place des Festivals. It will see patients seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You're only allowed to use the service if you meet one of the following criteria: you have a cough, fever or trouble breathing; you have come in contact with a person who has recently travelled with those symptoms; you travelled outside the country in the last 14 days.

  • Anyone showing flu-like symptoms is asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

  • Quebec has been opening designated clinics for testing new cases: in the Montreal area, that includes the former emergency room of Montreal's Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, one for minors at the Sainte-Justine Hospital and at the Azur clinic in Longueuil. 

  • Premier Legault said the government has more than 2,000 hospital beds ready for COVID-19 patients and will add more if necessary.

  • Medical professionals at those clinics will be masked, gowned and outfitted with a plastic face visor to prevent spreading the virus.

  • Once you arrive at your appointment your symptoms will be evaluated, and you could be asked to provide samples of your saliva for testing. Testing takes between 24 and 48 hours.

  • You will be sent home to await the results. If necessary, you will be given a kit containing gloves and a mask to prevent you from spreading the virus.

  • Two Montreal hospitals have been designated for people who are ill enough to require hospitalization: the Jewish General Hospital (for adults) and Sainte-Justine hospital (for children). If you live outside the Montreal area, you might be referred to your regional hospital instead. 

Inside the designated Hôtel-Dieu coronavirus clinic, patients will wait in these divided cubicles until their name is called. Cubicles will be scrubbed clean after each use. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

What should I do to protect myself and others?

  • Wash your hands regularly throughout the day with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water is not available, use alcohol-based disinfectant.

  • If you need to cough, cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow or a tissue. Wash your hands afterwards.

  • Avoid shaking hands as much as possible. If you do shake hands, wash your hands immediately afterwards.

  • Avoid touching your face.

  • Avoid any gatherings. The Quebec government has banned gatherings of more than two people whether or not they are inside or outside. There are a number of exceptions, including for workplaces, families living under the same roof and people who provide at-home services, such plumbers or electricians. More details available here.

  • Legault has requested that as many people as possible work from home. Businesses are being asked to adjust shift hours to minimize the number of passengers riding public transit during rush hour.

What should I do if I've recently returned from a trip?

  • If you have travelled outside of the country, health authorities are asking you to self-isolate for 14 days after you return home. Watch for symptoms including fever, cough and respiratory difficulty. This is mandatory for public sector employees and all health care, education and child care workers.

  • During the 14-day period, avoid contact with anyone in a hospital, a long-term care home or with people who have weakened immune systems.

  • For more travel-related advice, visit the government of Canada information page.

Should I stock up on food?

  • Legault has stressed repeatedly that Quebecers need not worry about running out of food — there is no foreseeable food shortage.

  • He said grocery stores will continue to be stocked and remain open. 

  • Legault said that truck drivers and all airplane and boat shipment crews are not being asked to self-isolate and will therefore continue to deliver food to local stores.

People line up for supplies outside the Costco store, Friday, March 13, 2020 in Boisbriand, Que. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

How many Quebecers are getting tested?

  • Quebec has increased its capacity to test for COVID-19, with the province now able to conduct 3,000 tests daily.

  • The provincial public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, says Quebec is not yet testing everyone who has flu-like symptoms, as there is not yet evidence that there have been "three generations" of community-spread cases. Testing may be done more broadly if that changes.