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COVID-19 Update – April 1: Visiting seniors a matter of “life and death” (updated)

Premier François Legault urged Quebecers to stop visiting their elderly relatives and seniors as the province grapples with several outbreaks in senior’s residences across the province. To date, there have been reports of COVID-19 positive residents in 519 of the 2,220 residences in Quebec. The government suggested they would be asking such residences and homes to be even more strict about who is allowed access to the facilities, as well as those leaving. Legault went so far as to invite employees working in these institutions to consider staying in hotels paid for by the government to reduce the possibility of staff becoming infected and then unintentionally introducing the coronavirus into a residence.

Legault announced a further 449 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 4,611 cases. There was an increase of 81 positive cases in the Montérégie, bringing the total to 422. The number of cases in the Haut-Saint-Laurent Suroît health region increased by 8 since Monday night to reach a total of 24. Across the province there are 307 people now in hospital, with 82 being treated in intensive care. Unfortunately, 33 deaths are now being attributed to the coronavirus. According to Mélissa Gilbert, the Information and External Communications for the CISSSMO, it is impossible to confirm whether there are any positives cases in the region’s CHSLD network at this time.

The premier was more optimistic with regard to medical supplies, suggesting that the province has about a week’s supply now, in comparison with yesterday when he announced the province could run out of stock within three to seven days. The protective equipment in shortest supply at the moment includes N-95 masks, surgical masks, gowns and gloves. Despite this, the Premier reaffirmed the province is well prepared to continue to battle the virus.

Access to four more regions was restricted as of noon today. Checkpoints were installed to control non-essential travel to the Outaouais health region, the Argenteuil and Antoine-Labelle MRCs in the Laurentian health region, as well as the territories of D’Autray, Joliette, Matawinie and Montcalm in the Lanaudière, and the agglomeration of La Tuque in the Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec region.

Currently there are 2,097 positive cases in the city of Montreal, with every borough seeing community spread of the virus. At this time however, the province has no plans to restrict access to and from the island of Montreal. Across the border in Clinton County, New York State, which includes Plattsburgh, there are a reported 25 cases, while Franklin county, which includes Malone, is reporting a total of nine positive test results.

Both Canadian and Quebec officials declined to set any kind of timeline for the relaxing of the strict measures currently in place, saying instead they could be in place for a number of weeks or even months. As such, it is as imperative as ever to follow public health authorities’ instructions to stay home as much as possible and wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

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