Quebec premier defends extending coronavirus measures as second wave takes hold in France

Quebec was right to extend restrictions in areas on red alert as the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic gains steam in France and the United States, the province’s premier said Thursday.

François Legault said the partial lockdown measures in hard-hit regions and sacrifices made by the public have helped stabilize the number of new cases in the province.

“All Quebecers have to be aware that the situation is critical,” he said. “The world is not going in the right direction for COVID-19.”

The tightened controls have been hard but necessary to keep the situation in check in Quebec, he added.

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Legault specifically pointed to France, where officials are imposing a new month-long, nationwide lockdown starting this Friday to slow the spread of the virus amid a spike in cases and deaths. More than half the country’s intensive care units are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

“For now, we have avoided the worst,” Legault said. “But we see that if we get too confident, the virus will come back stronger.

“That’s why we’re keeping the restrictions in red zones.”

The province reported 1,030 new infections and 25 additional deaths linked to the virus on Thursday. Eight of those deaths occurred in the last 24 hours.

The caseload stands at 103,844 and the pandemic has claimed the lives of 6,214 Quebecers since March. It remains the province hardest hit by the health crisis.

READ MORE: France, Germany face new round of coronavirus lockdowns as cases surge

Authorities say there are five long-term care homes in Quebec where more than 25 per cent of residents have active cases of COVID-19 — down from eight care home the day before. They say there are six private seniors residences where more than 25 per cent of residents have active infections, a situation they describe as “critical.”

Hospitalizations continued to drop Thursday, falling by 17 to 509. Health authorities say 78 of those patients are in intensive care, a drop of 11 from the previous day.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said that while the number of COVID-19 cases has started to plateau and hospitalizations are dropping, only half the battle has been won.

The most recent data about screening shows 27,370 tests conducted on Tuesday. The province has administered 3,052,900 tests to date.

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— With files from the Canadian Press and the Associated Press

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

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