MONTREAL -- People over the age of 70 should not leave their homes until further notice unless absolutely necessary, asked Premier François Legault on Saturday during his daily update to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

Legault said seniors are much more likely to suffer serious consequences or even death if they are infected with the new coronavirus.

"I would like today to ask all Quebecers over 70 years old to stay at home," said Legault. "I would like to ask all Quebecers that can help them to do so. those people are more at risk."

At a press conference held at the beginning of the afternoon in the National Assembly, the premier indicated that Quebec must learn from the data collected from the situation in China.

There, 8.0 per cent of people aged 70-79 who were infected died and 14.8 per cent of those aged 80 and over. In comparison, younger people are less at risk of dying from the virus. The rates were 0.2 per cent of people aged 30 to 39, 0.4 per cent of 40 to 49 years, 1.3 per cent of 50-59 years and 3.6 per cent 60-69 years.

"As a society, we must be able to do everything to protect our people who are older," insisted Mr. Legault.

Legault also announced that visits to seniors' centres and hospitals will now be prohibited.

The government has declared a state of public-health emergency in Quebec.

The Premier was accompanied 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.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante took to social media to reiterate Legault's warnings for seniors. She asked seniors and others at risk of isolation to call 211 if they have questions regarding resources.

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

Four of those cases were announced on Saturday morning. Two of these cases were identified in Montérégie, one in Lanaudière and one in Montreal.

Arruda said the four cases announced earlier in the day were people who had travelled outside of Quebec. No information has yet been made available on the three cases announced in the afternoon. 

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

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

This story will be updated.