COVID-19: Quebec has confirmed its first death due to coronavirus
MONTREAL -- Quebec has confirmed its first death due to coronavirus.
The patient who died was an elderly person in the Lanaudiere region, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced Wednesday.
Quebec director of public health Horacio Arruda said the person, who lived in a seniors residence, had been in contact with people who had recently travelled, but would not confirm if she herself had recently travelled.
Legault said all measures were being taken to investigate who the patient may have come in contact with.
There are now 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Quebec, health authorities announced Wednesday afternoon, up from the 74 cases that were confirmed as of Tuesday afternoon.
Of the confirmed cases, 24 are in the Montreal area, 18 in the Eastern Townships, 13 in the Monteregie, 8 in the Laurentians, 8 in the Quebec City region, 6 in the Lanaudiere, 6 in Chaudiere- Appalaches, 3 in the Mauricie and 1 in the Outaouais.
Health authorities said that as of 1 p.m. Wednesday 3,627 Quebecers were awaiting test results; 5,213 tests have come back negative.
Only six people with confirmed cases are in Quebec hospitals, authorities said. Four of them are in intensive care.
Earlier Wednesday, health authorities in Quebec urged people not to wear masks for preventative reasons in order to maintain the province's supply.
The effort to slow the outbreak of COVID-19 has ground North American society to a halt. Stock markets have plummeted; stores have closed; cities have quieted; officials have asked citizens to stay home.
"I understand that there's a lot of anxiety in our society right now," the premier said. But right now, panic is counter-productive, he explained, urging Quebecers to follow public health directives: avoid unnecessary gatherings, wash your hands, isolate yourself to prevent the spread of the virus. "If you're alone at home, there's no risk at all," Legault said, "so don't panic."
Officials expect confirmed cases of the virus to rise in the coming days as the province increases its testing capacity to 5,000 people each day. But Quebec's health network is ready, Legault insisted. "Right now we have six people in hospital, and we have 2,300 beds waiting in case we need to use them for the coronavirus," he said.
"The battle will be hard, the battle will be long, but I am sure we can win."
The Lanaudiere woman's death from COVID-19 is an example of the importance of isolation, especially for those who are older and more at risk, Legault said. "It's too bad," he said, "but we have proof today of the importance of doing so."