Quebec puts Eastern Townships on red alert as coronavirus cases climb

Quebec is placing the Eastern Townships on red alert as the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic takes hold in the region.

New restrictions will come into effect starting Thursday, which includes the closure of gyms, bars and restaurants’ dining rooms. Additional measures for schools will begin Friday.

“In recent days, a significant increase in new cases has been observed in the Estrie region, and a tightening of measures is therefore necessary,” said Health Minister Christian Dubé in a statement.

The move comes as the province reported 1,169 new cases Monday. Its caseload stands at 115,989, while there have been 98,740 recoveries.

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There are 15 more deaths tied to COVID-19, including five that occurred in the last 24 hours. Authorities say nine fatalities took place last week, while one death occurred at an unknown date.

The health crisis has claimed the lives of 6,455 Quebecers to date.

Hospitalizations jumped by 13 to 540. Of those patients, 76 are in intensive care, a decrease of one from the previous day.

The province conducted 21,215 tests on Saturday, the latest day for which screening information is available. So far, there have been 3,323,859 tests.

Concerns over health crisis in Saguenay

Quebec officials say they are particularly worried about an uptick in cases in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, which was recently designated a red zone.

Dubé was in the area on Monday to draw attention to the situation, which he said will only worsen before it gets better.

Andrée Laforest, the Quebec minister responsible for the region, said there were 634 new cases in one week and there are 73 active outbreaks.

The region, which was largely unaffected during the pandemic’s first wave, has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

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Medical orderlies feel cheated by Quebec government

With files from The Canadian Press

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