Quebec adjusts daycare plans, invests in mental health as coronavirus cases climb

Quebec is investing in mental health initiatives, adjusting its plan to gradually reopen daycares and has been transferring patients from hard-hit Montreal to other regions amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The measures come as the government looks to slowly reopen parts of the province and scale back on restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault, who filled in for Premier François Legault at the briefing on Wednesday, said daycares will operate at 30 per cent capacity when they reopen in most parts of Quebec next week.

“We are well aware that it can complicate things for some parents,” she said, asking for their understanding.

The provincial government is also investing $31 million as part of a mental-health plan to help Quebecers during the pandemic.

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Guilbault also acknowledged that she understands that teachers and educators are feeling stressed about returning to work next week, but she said workers who are under the age of 70 can return to work with little risk to their health.

“Public health authorities tell us that, before the age of 70, it is possible to return to work without significant risk,” she said. “All Quebec employers are asked to take this into account.”

Quebec remains the province hardest hit by COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. The pandemic has led to outbreaks in Montreal and long-term care homes, which continue to face staffing shortages.

The number of cases continues to rise every day by the hundreds. There are more than 34,000 cases in the province to date — accounting for more than half of the country’s infections.

As of Wednesday, the respiratory illness has killed 112 more Quebecers. The province’s death toll stands at 2,510.

Hospital transfers from Montreal

The island of Montreal and surrounding areas remain hard hit by the virus and one of the concerns for provincial officials.

Montreal accounts for about half of the province’s cases and authorities say they have high hospitalization rates.

“The situation in Montreal is very different from the rest of Quebec,” said Health Minister Danielle McCann.

As a result, patients at hospitals in the city have been transferred to different areas — including Montreal’s north and south shores. They have even been moved to as far as Trois-Rivières.

McCann said the transfers “relieve pressure” on Montreal’s hospitals.

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