MONTREAL -- Health authorities in Quebec City have taken over the day-to-day care at a private seniors' residence following a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.

Officials made the announcement Tuesday -- the same day the province's minister for seniors, Marguerite Blais, announced an investigation into the situation at the Auberge aux Trois Pignons in the city's Beauport borough.

The regional health agency, CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale, says 21 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and three have died. Seven staff members have also contracted the disease. The agency said in a statement that it "agreed with the owner to take over the care and services."

Health authorities have been providing assistance at the private facility since July 11 and steadily increasing their presence there. Two investigators with the Health Department will inspect the residence.

"The outbreak is currently considered stable in this environment," the agency said. "No new cases have been reported among residents for five days."

On Monday, two doctors had sounded the alarm to Quebec City Le Soleil newspaper about the residence, decrying a lack of staff and a notable decline in the care offered to residents, often left on their own with wounds, without proper hygiene or help to eat.

The health agency said the situation was deteriorating due to absences and staff quitting. "Difficulties were observed in terms of physical care as well as food service and laundry."

Blais told a news conference south of Quebec City Tuesday she was shocked to find out the owners had waited to alert authorities.

"The owners of a private seniors' residence, as part of their certification, have the obligation to advise (health authorities) immediately of any problems in their establishment," Blais said. "We want an accurate picture, that's why we've asked for an independent investigation."

Quebec reported an additional 169 COVID-19 cases Tuesday and three new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Hospitalizations in the province continued to decline, down to 193 patients from 200. Of those, eight patients are in intensive care, an increase of one.

Quebec has reported a total of 58,897 COVID-19 cases and 5,670 deaths. The number of new infections has remained stable in recent days, and the provincial government said Monday the majority of new cases involve people in the 15-to-34 age bracket.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2020.