Quebec has reached a grim milestone as more than 5,000 people have died during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The province, which leads Canada, recorded an additional 45 fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 5,029.
“The message I have is I’m sorry,” said Premier François Legault during his daily briefing. “I’m sorry for the decisions that have been taken or not taken for the last 10, 20 years.
“Of course, we are sad for the families that are close to these people — 5,000 deaths is a lot.”
The majority of the victims, about 4,500 of them, lived in long-term care homes, according to Legault. The health crisis has bore down on those facilities and forced a spotlight on the province’s embattled elder-care system.
Quebec has 53,185 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, after 138 new infections were reported from the previous day.
However, the number of hospitalizations has declined to 961 and patients in intensive care dropped to 117.
Legault said the patterns of daily numbers are encouraging, but Quebecers must continue respecting public health guidelines in order not to trigger a second wave of infections.
“We have to restart the economy without restarting the pandemic,” he said.
The province, which is the hardest hit by the health crisis in the country, is continuing to loosen restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
On Monday, the government announced restaurants will be permitted to open up dining rooms beginning next week in most of Quebec. Montrealers will have to wait until June 22.
Indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from a maximum of three households will also be allowed starting next week.
— With files from the Canadian Press
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