Quebec expands red zone designation to more regions as coronavirus cases climb

Quebec is reporting 1,078 new cases and nine additional deaths linked to COVID-19 on Thursday as the province tightens lockdown rules in designated red zones.

Premier François Legault provided the new numbers during an update in Quebec City, saying it’s important for citizens to heed sanitary restrictions and download the novel coronavirus federal alert application. The government’s priority is to improve contact tracing, he added.

“We have to make sacrifices in order to, as I said yesterday, to save our health network,” he said.

The province’s caseload has reached 82,992 while the death toll attributed to the virus has reached 5,915.

Health Minister Christian Dubé announced five more Regional Municipal Counties, including Bécancour, Nicolet-Yamaska, Drummond, Trois-Rivières, and Portneuf, are being added to the province’s coronavirus red zones.

Dubé said with the addition of the new regions, most of the St-Lawrence Valley between Quebec City and Montreal has gone red, with a few exceptions.

READ MORE: Quebecers asked to ‘stay home’ as spike in COVID-19 patients strains health-care system

The recent uptick in cases and growing spread of the virus has also led to more hospitalizations in the last week. The resurgence has also prompted officials to ask Quebecers to stay home to ease pressure on the health-care network.

As of Thursday, Legault said the number of patients jumped by 16 for a total of 425. Of those patients, 68 are in intensive care — an increase of six.

With the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Legault repeated his call Thursday for families to limit their Thanksgiving dinners to their households.

“Usually I see my mom but I won’t see my mom over the weekend,” he said.

Dubé is urging Quebecers to limit non-essential travel and said police checkpoints will be set up in certain regions to remind people to respect public health guidelines.

The health minister said their role will not be coercive but preventative.

READ MORE: South Shore police forces to make rounds in schools as new COVID-19 rules begin

On Thursday, Quebec’s new public health measures for regions under the province’s highest alert level came into effect. This includes shutting down gyms, limiting team sports and making masks mandatory for high school students.

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said police officers will be around high schools to educate young people on the need to follow public health measures such as physical distancing and mask-wearing.

Roberge says the province has no intention of shutting down schools even with COVID-19 cases on the rise.

The new rules for designated red zones such as Montreal are expected to last for a 20-day period, until Oct. 28.

In the five newly-designated red zones, bars, restaurants, theatres and entertainment venues will shut down on Saturday at midnight, while restrictions for schools and sports will come into effect Wednesday at midnight.

Click to play video 'Mandatory mask-wearing in Quebec high schools comes into effect Thursday' 1:31 Mandatory mask-wearing in Quebec high schools comes into effect Thursday

Mandatory mask-wearing in Quebec high schools comes into effect Thursday

With files from the Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Article Source