Quebec raises coronavirus alert level for Montreal, other regions as situation becomes ‘critical’

The alert levels for the Montreal, Montérégie, Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions have been raised amid an upward trend of novel coronavirus cases.

Quebec Premier François Legault announced the update Tuesday, saying a total of eight regions in the province are now in the yellow zone, which calls for an early warning.

As a result, Legault is asking citizens to limit their private gatherings as much as possible to stem the tide of COVID-19.

“The situation is critical and worrisome,” he said. “And we have to react now. It’s the responsibility of each Quebecer.”

Legault said he is worried for children and that the province cannot close schools, where 283 infections have been reported to date. The uptick in cases could also overwhelm hospitals, he added.

“Right now we have a health-care system that is very fragile,” said Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé.

READ MORE: Coronavirus cases reported at 172 schools in Quebec, education ministry says

The government will also tighten controls if the alert level for Montreal and other regions is raised to orange, which calls for stricter measures. This includes lowering the maximum number of people in private gatherings from 10 to six.

But the province isn’t at that point yet, according to Dubé.

“We can still control it. We’re able to control it but it requires individual effort,” he said.

Health authorities reported 292 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the province’s total to 65,554. It is the third consecutive day in which more than 275 cases were recorded in a 24-hour period.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, the director of Quebec public health, said he is concerned by the recent rise in cases and people need to be more vigilant.

“Whether we like it or not, it’s a question of life or death,” he said.

Five additional deaths were reported from the previous day, though authorities say only one death occurred in the past 24 hours. The province’s death toll attributable to the virus stands at 5,785.

The number of hospitalizations also spiked by nine for a total of 133. Of them, 23 people are in intensive care — an increase of four.

Quebec gave 21,500 tests on Sunday, the latest day for which that data is available. So far, 1,932,847 tests have been carried out.

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