Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Quebec jump to more than 1,600; two new deaths reported
MONTREAL -- Quebec has 1,629 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday afternoon and two more patients have died, provincial health officials announced.
That's up 290 from the 1,339 cases that were reported Wednesday afternoon. There are now eight deaths in Quebec linked to COVID-19.
One of the people who died was in Montreal, and regional health authorities north of Montreal confirmed the second was a 91-year-old man from the Laurentians region who lived in a seniors residence.
There are 106 people being treated in hospital; 43 of them are in intensive care.
There are 2,622 Quebecers who are awaiting test results; 31,854 tests have come back negative.
Of the confirmed cases in the province, 782 are in Montreal. You can see a complete regional breakdown here.
Two patients who had contracted COVID-19 has since recovered.
Forty-six health-care workers in Quebec have contracted COVID-19, said Horacio Arruda, Quebec's national director of public health.
"The situation is under control. What we see is what we thought (we'd see)," Arruda said. "It's almost all elderly people and some have been exposed to those coming from travel."
The province has previously reported deaths in the Lower St-Lawrence, the Eastern Townships in addition to the first four victims, who lived in the same seniors residence in Lavaltrie, northeast of Montreal.
The province's Health Department said the significant increase in the number of confirmed cases since Sunday is explained by the fact that cases testing positive by hospital labs are now considered confirmed and no longer require confirmation by the provincial lab.
Since that change, the province has reported large jumps every day, but the increases have slowly declined as well: 409 new cases on Monday, 385 on Tuesday, 326 on Wednesday and 290 on Thursday.
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Quebec Premier Francois Legault on Thursday called on Quebecers in good health, and who are under the age of 70, to volunteer with food banks and other aid groups, whose services have been inundated with demand since the start of the COVID-19.
Quebec has set up a website for people who want to volunteer at the more than 1,500 community organizations taking part in the initiative.
"I ask everyone: get involved," said Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity. "You have the power to make a huge difference in people's lives. Even if just for one day, your contribution will mean a lot."
Legault rejected a suggestion that there was a contradiction between shutting down non-essential businesses for three weeks while asking volunteers to head out to provide food.
"Right now, we have people who lost their jobs, they don't have the money to get some food for their families," Legault said. "So, what I'm asking Quebecers is to please help, if you can, to deliver food to the people that need it."
Legault said the province will ensure food banks have the money they need to respond to demand as people await promised federal aid.
He also told Quebecers not to be ashamed about having to use a food bank in such exceptional times.
"One should not be embarrassed to go in a food bank," Legault said. "It is not your fault that you have lost your job in the past few days, in the past few weeks."
Quebec on Thursday remained on a province-wide lockdown, with only essential businesses and services allowed to continue operations until April 13.
- The Canadian Press contributed to this report.
See the breakdown by region on this map: