Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will now be closed until the start of the next school year in late August. The announcement was made during Premier Legault’s daily COVID-19 briefings, where he also confirmed that early childcare centres would only reopen on June 1, providing all of the conditions set out by public health authorities were met.
The conditions for deconfinement include a decrease in hospitalizations, a decrease in the numbers of deaths associated with the virus, an increase in the number of tests being done on a daily basis up to 14,000, and the availability of hospital beds and health care personnel. As of now, these conditions are not being met in Montreal, and therefore the government has been forced to adjust its deconfinement plans significantly this week.
Currently, there are 40,724 confirmed cases in Quebec, a 24-hour increase of 793 cases. There are now 1,834 people being treated in hospital, including 190 in intensive care. 131 new deaths were announced Thursday in relation to COVID-19, bringing the total to 3,351.
Montérégie, of which a large portion is considered to be part of the greater Montreal area, now has 5,071 confirmed cases, including 241 hospitalized with 16 in intensive care. A total of 267 individuals in the region have lost their lives. There are 28 cases in the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent, 105 cases in the MRC des Jardins de Napierville, 285 cases in the MRC de Beauharnois-Salaberry, 474 cases in the MRC de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and 514 cases in the MRC de Roussillon.
Public health preaches hand hygiene and face coverings
The Institut National de Santé Publique du Quebec released new data related to COVID-19 as well as interim recommendations for the handling of cash in stores and workplaces. These recommendations include preventative measures such as recommending delivery instead of in-person purchases/pickups, limiting hand-to-hand exchanges, avoiding handling clients’ bank cards and cell phones, maintaining the cleanliness of payment terminals and ensuring hand hygiene is practiced at all times. The public health authority does not recommend the wearing of gloves, as they can lead to a false sense of security and may promote the spread of contamination as a result.
In a video posted Thursday by the Direction de Santé Publique de la Montérégie, the institute’s Director, Dr. Julie Loslier, remarked she has noticed that in the Montérégie region, the wearing of masks and social distancing are not always respected. She also urged anyone exhibiting symptoms to call either 811 or 1-877-644-4545 to make an appointment to be tested, suggesting more testing would be available in the Montérégie region.
Help for fishing and farming industries
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new support for veterans with the launching of the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “This centre will focus on national research, training and education to provide veterans with the support they deserve. No one, least of all those who have worn the maple leaf, should be without the care they need,” Trudeau said.
The federal government also announced an investment of the $470 million to create the Fish Harvesters Benefit, which will cover 75% of losses for those who make their living through fishing and are expecting a 25% drop in income this year. “We’re also introducing additional non-repayable grants of up to $10,000 for fish harvesters who own their own businesses and need support to bridge to better times. And for workers who are worried about next year, we will change employment insurance rules so that fish harvesters can apply for EI benefits based on the earnings of previous years,” said Trudeau. The Prime Minister further announced the launch of a $100 million agriculture and food business solutions fund through Farm Credit Canada. “Whether you’re a fisher, a food processor or a farmer, we’ve got your back, and I know all Canadians do too.”
Trudeau gave further details of government aid programs aimed at helping Indigenous communities, including $306 million for Indigenous businesses, more than $75 million in targeted support for students and young people, and a $10 million investment in emergency shelters for Indigenous women and children fleeing violence.
Trudeau also announced the partial reopening of some national parks as of the beginning of June so people can benefit from the use of trails and green spaces where physical distancing is possible.