Quebec ramps up screening strategy as coronavirus bears down on Greater Montreal

Quebec is ramping up its screening measures for the hard-hit Greater Montreal area as novel coronavirus cases and deaths continue to increase.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of Quebec public health, said on Friday that the virus is under control in most of the province, but there are concerns over its spread in Montreal, Laval and the surrounding areas.

“The portrait and evolution of COVID-19 is different from one region to the other,” he said.

READ MORE: STM to provide masks to commuters as Montreal’s reopening looms

Arruda said about 10,000 people are tested per day in Quebec. He expects to reach the goal of 14,000 tests per day in the coming days.

In Montreal, mobile units are being deployed to test residents. Montrealers who experience symptoms — such as a fever, coughing and difficulty breathing — are asked to call 1-877-644-4545 to be referred to the right resource.

“This massive screening effort is very important to the context of lifting lockdowns, which has already begun,” he said.

In Quebec, there are 36,150 cases to date. The respiratory illness has killed 2,725 people in the province — the most in any province.

READ MORE: Quebec delays reopening of Montreal schools, daycares and stores as coronavirus cases rise

Montreal has more than 18,000 cases of COVID-19 as of Friday. Some boroughs — including Montreal North — are grappling to contain outbreaks.

“We are the epicentre of this virus,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

As a result, authorities are asking the public to abide by social-distancing measures and to not let their guards down.

The Quebec government has also pushed back its reopening plan for the Greater Montreal area, citing high infection rates and hospitalization numbers.

Elementary schools, daycares and businesses are expected to be back up and running by May 25.

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

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