Montreal still ­fragile, regions ­doing well

By Matthew McCully

Quebec Premier Francois Legault began his daily COVID-19 press briefing by clarifying the mixed messages coming from the government as part of an evolving situation. “The situation evolves, we adapt,” Legault said. He acknowledged that many Quebecers are confused about why business can open and kids can go back to school, but families can’t get together for a backyard barbecue. Legault explained that the things need to move gradually.
The premier also addressed concerns from people outside of Montreal worried that people from the city, the national epicentre for COVID-19 at the moment, could travel to the regions and spread the disease. “We’re all in the same boat,” Legault said, adding that as long as social distancing measures are maintained the risk is low. There were 85 new deaths in Quebec in the last day, bringing the total to 3,013. Legault said 82 of those deaths happened in the Greater Montreal area.
Quebec currently has 38,468 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up 748 from yesterday.
There are 1,838 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, 193 of which are in intensive care.
So far 9,703 people have recovered from the virus.
Legault said three factors play into why Quebec has a higher death toll than any other province: Spring break in the province came at the worst possible moment; in ­Quebec, all deaths potentially related to COVID-19 are declared, a practice not all provinces follow, and Legault said the province’s CHSLDs were ill prepared heading into the pandemic.

During question period, Legault was pressed about two studies by the Quebec Public Health Institute that were made public on Friday afternoon, a known black hole for unpopular news items. Legault insisted the institute is completely independent and he had nothing to do with when the studies were published. The two studies offer a pessimistic view of the potential infection rate in the Greater Montreal area if social distancing measures were to be relaxed. The outlook in the regions is promising, the studies projected.
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