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MONTREAL -- Premier Francois Legault reiterated the importance of red-zone lockdown measures on Thursday when the province reported an additional 1,030 cases and 25 deaths related to COVID-19.
"Today, we still have 25 new deaths, and that is why we’re asking for these sacrifices," Legault said at a news conference, in reference to his government's recent decision to extend measures by four more weeks.
"I know it’s difficult, what I’m asking you to do, but the only remedy we have is to help each other out."
Thursday's announcement brings the total number of cases in the province since the start of the pandemic to 103,844 and the total number of deaths to 6,214.
Legault reminded Quebecers that it's important for non-essential businesses to remain closed for the time being, regardless of whether or not owners are strictly following COVID-19 health guidelines.
The comments come after business owners in several sectors asked for proof their businesses were significantly contributing to transmission of the disease.
"I can understand that there are some people that are not happy, there are some people who are frustrated," Legault said.
"For example, restaurant owners, gym owners, clients – what they tell us is ‘I respected all the required measures and you are shutting me down again.'"
What people "must understand," said Legault, is "that the problem -- it doesn’t lie with the owners, and there was nothing wrong with the efforts they deployed -- it’s just that currently we have no choice."
Legault added that even he, after eight months, is struggling to get used to maintaining two metres of distance between himself and others.
"There are some owners who say ‘Well, there was no outbreak in my restaurant,’ but what we must understand is that before going to the restaurant, before stepping into the restaurant, after we leave the restaurant, there’s always a risk of contact," he said.
Ahead of Remembrance Day, Legault reminded Quebecers of the men and women from past generations who made sacrifices for our rights.
"Those were greater sacrifices than what we’re asking for now," he said.
FRANCE IS CAUTIONARY TALE
Even though Quebec appears to have hit a pleateau at around 1,000 cases per day, Legault said the situation remains critical.
"The world is not going in the right direction with regards to COVID-19," he said.
"The situation is getting worse, throughout the planet, and if we come back to France, the situation – we can see what can happen if we lose control, especially when it comes to hospitalizations."
However, France, he noted, currently has more than 20,000 people in hospitals, "so five times more than what we have here."
The province’s public health director suggested another reason the coming month will be a key indicator of how easily the virus might spread over the winter.
“In winter we heat the house,” said Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda.
“The air is less humid -- the projections will go farther than if there is high humidity.”
QUEBEC CITY HAS BIGGEST SHARE OF NEW DEATHS
Nine people are reported to have died in the Quebec City region (299 total deaths), five in Montreal (3,526 total), three in Chaudiere-Appalaches (68 total) and also in Monteregie (702 total), two in the Gaspesie-Magdalen Islands (26 total) and also in the Laurentians (302 total), and one in Laval (710 total).
Montreal's positive cases increased by 245 Thursday (41,894 total), followed by Monteregie with 151 new cases (15,203 total), Lanaudiere with 130 new cases (7,096 total) and the Quebec City region with 119 new cases (8,631 total).
There is some apparently good news: the number of hospitalizations decreased by 17 on Thursday, and there are now 509 people receiving treatment in Quebec hospitals. Of those, 78 are in the intensive care ward, a decrease of 11.
The Institude of Public Health reports that 804 more people have recovered from the disease and that total is now 88,442.
Health-care professionals analyzed 27,370 samples Oct. 27. (Quebec releases its testing data from two days prior to its daily updates.)