COVID-19 in Quebec: a look back at 2020, the year of the novel coronavirus
People wear face masks as they wait to enter a wine and liquor store in Montreal, Thursday, December 31, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
MONTREAL -- CTV News Montreal looks back at a COVID-19 year from where it began to the current state of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Quebec heading into 2021:
January 18: Arruda pens first ‘state of the situation’
According to Dr. Horacio Arruda’s year-end testimony in front of the national assembly, he first wrote what he called the ‘state of the situation’ on the early stages of the coronavirus, which until just days before had been isolated in China.
Opposition parties criticized the Francois Legault government for what they call a slow response to the risk of the pandemic. Arruda testified that his memo should have made its way into the administration.
While Canada’s first presumed case of coronavirus was noted Jan. 29 after a man returned to Toronto from Wuhan, China, Quebec’s first known COVID-19 case was when a Montreal-area woman returned to the province from Iran with symptoms.
“I want to reassure Quebecers: all measures have been taken to protect the population.” Legault wrote on Twitter. “The health network is ready.”
March 2: Quarantine units set up
With just one active case in the province, the Jewish General Hospital announces it is one of two designated COVID-19 response hospitals in Montreal, fit with special ventilation systems.
The hospital had undergone renovations in 2016 following the outbreak of the Swine Flu. At the time, hospital officials told CTV News they had confidence in Montreal’s health network protocols to handle an outbreak.
March 5 – More cases confirmed
A Mont-Laurier man in the Laurentians returned from a trip to India and was treated for COVID-19 symptoms.
Just hours later, provincial health authorities confirmed a third case. At the same time, 20 people were under COVID-19 related investigation.
Air Canada cancels flights between Canada and Italy, and Quebec records seven total confirmed cases, all people who had travelled outside of Canada.
Montreal’s public-health officials confirm that a person with COVID-19 had taken public transit before testing positive, and that she had been showing symptoms while commuting.
March 11 – COVID-19 is a pandemic
The World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, Quebec numbers hit double digits, and Quebec minister of Health Danielle McCann advises Quebecers to avoid taking cruises.
March 13: Quebec enters two-week lockdown
Schools across the province closed for two-weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, which reaches 10 total cases.
“I understand it will be a major problem for parents starting Monday morning,” said the premier in a news briefing.
After a Korean Montrealer was stabbed on Decarie, the Korean consulate urges caution among the community as many people of Asian descent around the world report incidents of racism and discrimination since the COVID-19 epidemic began.
The statement, written in Korean, urges people to “pay special attention to personal safety.”
An elderly person in the Lanaudiere region, who lives in a seniors home, becomes the first fatal case of COVID-19 in the province.
The same day, health authorities in Quebec urge people not to wear masks for preventative reasons in order to maintain the province's supply.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante declares a state of emergency to help the city’s homeless population, who are having a harder time finding space in the city’s shelters.
The state of emergency continues into 2021.
Infections scream upwards in Quebec in the weeks following the first case. Public Health Director Horacio Arruda, now a household name, says “the main factor of acquisition of the disease is community transmission.”
Premier Legault announces that 31 seniors have died at the Maison Herron long-term care facility in Dorval. It is the first of many such reports from the province's long-term care homes (CHSLDs).
Provincial officials decide that the rate at which the virus is spreading is at a level that people could safely gather outdoors again.
"The situation remains fragile and we must remain cautious," said Deputy Premier Genevieve Guilbault at the time. On the day of the announcement, the total deaths attributed to the virus approaches 4,000.
Quebec authorities add 45 new deaths after days of declining numbers, pushing the provincial toll to 5,029, with nearly 90 per cent of those deaths in the province's long-term care homes.
"The message I have is that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the decisions that have been taken or not taken in the last 10 to 20 years," Francois Legault told reporters in Quebec City.
Quebec becomes the first province to require masks be worn in all indoor public places. Some protests erupt against the rule, and businesses are expected to enforce the rule or face a fine.
July 31 - Smartphone COVID-19 app introduced
The federal government-backed exposure notification smartphone app launches, marking the beginning of a new frontier in the coronavirus fight: alerting participating Canadians when they come in proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The app goes live in Quebec Oct. 5.
Quebec says that public gatherings of up to 250 people are now permitted. The previous limit was 50 people. Private gatherings remain capped at 10 people.
Quebec becomes the first province to welcome students back into classrooms with health measures in place.
Quebec’s daily COVID-19 case count begins to increase in September, prompting the provincial government to create a regional alert map designed to measure the state of the pandemic in different places across the province.
As cases rise, bars and restaurants are ordered to close their dining areas for October. This order is extended and establishments remain closed except for take out into 2021.
Quebec City, Montreal and Chaudiere-Appalaches become the first regions designated as "red zones."
October 25 - COVID-19 cases surpass 100,000
After the province reports 879 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, the total number of positive cases since the start of the pandemic reaches a grim milestone of 100,114. The number is 46 per cent of Canada's 216,043 total cases.
Gisèle Lévesque, 89, lives in Quebec City and used to work for the National Bank. She became the first person in the province to get vaccinated for COVID-19 on Monday.
Premier Legault announces that non-essential businesses will be forced to close from Dec. 26 to Jan. 11, as record numbers of new cases are reported regularly.
High schools are also closed for an extended period.
Quebec's final COVID-19 update reported that 202,641 people have tested positive for COVID-19, 8,226 people have died, and 1,175 people are in the province's hospitals receiving treatment for the disease including 165 people in the intensive care ward.
There are 22,367 active cases, the province says, and 172,047 people have recovered from the disease.
Health-care professionals in the province have administered 29,250 doses of the vaccine.