MONTREAL -- Quebec Premier Francois Legault declared a public health emergency in the province asking seniors to stay home, banning visits to hospitals, seniors residences, and long-term care centres and other measures in a news conference Saturday.

The extraordinary measure will give Legault's administration the ability to spend money without going through the usual channels.

During the announcement Legault urged Canadians travelling abroad such as those wintering in warmer countries to return home.

He also reiterated his call for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reduce the number of travellers coming to Canada to help stop the virus entering the country.

Legault was joined by the National Director of Public Health, Horacio Arruda, as well as the Minister of Health and Social Services Danielle McCann and the Minister responsible for Seniors and Caregivers, Marguerite Blais.

Four new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Quebec, bringing the total to 21 in the province, Health-Quebec announced on Saturday morning.

Two of these cases were identified in Montérégie, the other two in Lanaudière and in Montreal.

On Saturday morning, 853 people were awaiting the results of the screening and to date, 1399 analyzes have been negative.

For comparison, Ontario has almost five times more cases than Quebec. The neighboring province said on Saturday that 101 people had COVID-19.


Via Rail indicated on Friday evening that it is suspending its long routes from the West and East of the country (the Canadian and the Ocean) until Friday Mar. 27 inclusive. The trains run from Montreal to Halifax, and from Toronto to Vancouver.

The Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) also announced changes to the schedules for the Sorel-Tracy-Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola, Québec-Lévis and Tadoussac-Baie-Sainte-Catherine ferries. The new schedules are in effect as of Saturday.

Thus, the number of people on board all ferries will be limited to 250, including crews, in order to comply with the measures announced by the Legault government.


The Correctional Service of Canada announced that visits to inmates at all of its facilities have been suspended.

The agency said it has put in place certain options to allow families and friends to stay in touch, including visits by videoconference and telephone.

The agency wanted to reassure the families of detainees by indicating that it had specialized health care teams in its establishments that have knowledge and experience dealing with cases of infectious and respiratory diseases, such as COVID- 19.

To date, no confirmed cases have been identified in a federal penitentiary. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 14, 2020.