Montreal public health ‘worried’ after city sets record by topping 600 new coronavirus cases

Montreal public health authorities are sounding the alarm over the rapid progression of the COVID-19 pandemic after reporting its highest daily tally of new cases with 648 on Thursday.

Dr. Mylène Drouin, director of the city’s public health department, described the evolving health crisis as “worrying” amid an uptick in infections and hospitalizations.

She says the positivity rate has risen to seven per cent and there is “sustained” community transmission of the novel coronavirus in Montreal.

“In the last week, it is a significant increase,” she said, referring to the number of cases in the city.

Read more: Long-term care homes were ‘blind spot’ in preparing for COVID-19 crisis, Quebec ombudsman says

The majority of new cases are among school-aged children and seniors over the age of 80, according to Drouin. Some neighbourhoods are harder hit than others, including Parc-Extension, Côte-des-Neiges and Montreal North.

There are 268 outbreaks of COVID-19 in the region, including in schools, workplaces and daycares but Drouin qualified them as mostly small and largely under control.

Health authorities are concerned, however, about the outbreaks in health-care facilities such as long-term care homes and private seniors’ residences.

Sonia Bélanger, head of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, says hospitalizations linked to the virus are starting to quickly climb.

Read more: Quebec’s COVID-19 surge puts pressure on hospitals as some experts call for temporary lockdown

Bélanger says there are 279 people in hospital, including 41 patients in intensive care units, as of Thursday. She says the numbers are accelerating every day.

“It’s a serious increase,” she said.

Bélanger also pointed out that there are many health-care workers who have contracted the virus or are awaiting test results.

As the second wave of the health crisis evolves, public health authorities are calling on Montrealers to be careful and abide by measures in place to curb the spread of the virus.

“We have to reduce our contacts,” she said.

Click to play video 'Quebec premier calls on police to crack down as Quebecers alerted rules will be enforced' 1:58 Quebec premier calls on police to crack down as Quebecers alerted rules will be enforced

Quebec premier calls on police to crack down as Quebecers alerted rules will be enforced

With files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez

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