Quebec has no intention of lifting current restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in regions on red alert as the province had its seventh straight day of more than 1,000 new cases.
“The number of new cases was stabilizing but we’re now seeing an increase in recent days,” Premier François Legault said Tuesday.
Legault noted the situation is stable in most regions where a partial lockdown is in effect, including Montreal. But he warned the second wave of the health crisis is taking hold in five areas: the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, the Gaspésie, Lanaudière, Centre-du-Québec and Mauricie regions.
As a result, Legault is calling on Quebecers in those hard-hit areas to limit their socializing to stop community transmission.
“Our numbers show us that we must be more careful,” he said.
Public health measures will stay in effect until Nov. 23 — which includes keeping dining rooms, gyms, bars and museums closed — but Legault stopped short of saying more restrictions will be rolled out in the province hardest hit by the pandemic.
Legault stressed the province’s priority is to keep children in school and people at work as the pandemic continues. The government “accepts” there is community transmission in those places, he said, but it’s about finding a balance between restrictions and quality of life.
“We don’t think it’s necessary right now to add more measures,” he told reporters.
Dr. Horacio Arruda, the director of Quebec public health, also said that schools are not the principal driver of transmission of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
“I think it’s a mix of things,” he said. “It’s not just schools.”
The update comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging provincial leaders to strengthen measures amid a “concerning” jump in cases across Canada. He said he hopes they won’t loosen public health directives because they’re worried about the economic impact.
Quebec reported 1,162 new cases and 38 additional deaths linked to the virus on Tuesday. This includes nine fatalities that occurred in the last 24 hours.
The caseload has reached 117,151, while there have been more than 99,000 recoveries since the health crisis began. The province’s death toll remains the highest in Canada. It stands at 6,493.
Hospitalizations dropped by six to 534. Of those patients, six more are in intensive care compared to the previous day, bringing the total to 82.
The latest information provided by Quebec shows 18,911 tests were given Saturday. So far, there have been 3,342,770 tests.
— With files from Global News’ Katie Dangerfield and The Canadian Press
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