COVID-19 update: Biggest worry is ­seniors’ residences, Premier says

By Matthew McCully

While the preoccupation recently has been personal protective equipment, Quebec Premier Legault said Wednesday the province has enough for the coming week and more orders on the way.
The biggest worry right now, Legault said, is residences for the elderly.
At the moment 519 institutions across the province have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.
During yesterday’s briefing, Legault and Health and Social Services Minister Danielle McCann stressed the importance of limiting exposure to the coronavirus to seniors.
McCann said residences will become stricter about who can go in and out of those environments. She added that any staff who work with seniors and are able to should stay in a hotel, which the government would pay for, to reduce the possibility of infection while outside of work.
“Don’t go visit any residence, or any home where elderly people are living together,” Legault said, “Do not risk bringing the virus into those places.”
Looking back on the past few weeks, Legault said he believes the province is managing well in the crisis.
“We freed up 6,000 beds,” Legault said, adding that health officials don’t think hospitalizations will reach that number, even at the peak of infection.
He added that Quebec was one of first states in North America to close non-essential businesses, a move that will likely pay off in next two weeks.
The province has also done the more tests than most other areas and has identified more vectors of COVID-19 transmission. “We don’t have a lot of hospitalizations, and fewer deaths compared to elsewhere in world,” Legault said.
Legault acknowledged that Quebecers are anxious to know how the coming months will play out.
Given the daily rise in positive cases, the previous timeframes of mid-April and May 1 for business and school closures seem less and less realistic.
“I understand everyone wants to know,” the premier said, when the situation will peak and the number of infected people will begin to decrease. “Will it be two weeks? A month? It’s difficult to answer that question.”
Legault said over the next few days the province will make an effort to provide the most probable scenario of when the peak might arrive.
Quebec currently has 4,611 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 449 from the day before.
The total for the Estrie region is 379.
The province has 307 hospitalized COVID-19 patients (21 new), and 82 in intensive care, no increase from the day before.
The death toll in Quebec is now 33, two of which happened in the last day.
The province has modified its strategy for testing. While the focus previously was on people who had travelled, the focus is now on health care workers to ensure they are not spreading the virus inadvertently.
During yesterday’s briefing, Legault made a point of thanking the spouses and partners of Quebecers who are on the front line providing essential services.
“They have an important role to play, to give strength and courage,” he said.
As he finished his daily report, Legault repeated the same three rules to remember during the pandemic:
Don’t leave your home unless absolutely necessary;
If you do go out, stay at least two metres away from other people;
When you get home, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.

Published in the Thursday, April 2 editon of The Record.

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