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MONTREAL -- The city of Montreal is renewing its call for vigilance as it moves into the orange zone on the province's new regional alert system -- and is clarifying a few details as to what this level means for Montrealers.
Montreal public health director Mylene Drouin made the announcement on Monday alongside Mayor Valerie Plante and Centre-Sud CIUSSS president Sonia Belanger.
Drouin said the city is currently handling outbreaks in 14 schools, two daycares, six long-term care homes, and 28 workplaces.
"Most of our outbreaks are under control, and most of them are small, this tells us that those places do conform to public health recommendations," she said.
More than half of the cases in the city are among people between 18 and 34 years of age, Drouin said.
"We can clearly see the image of the curve that's accelerating."
Some of the Montreal areas most impacted are Park Extension, Outremont, downtown, Montreal North, Saint-Michel and Saint-Leonard, Drouin said. The city said it's working on increasing both testing capacities and outreach in these areas.
Sunday's provincial announcement reduced the size of private gatherings from 10 people to six -- and from a maximum of two homes.
“We need to absolutely limit the number of contacts,” Plante said, adding that most of the transmission in the city is taking place in private gatherings.
Officials are asking people who live in orange zones not to visit yellow and green zones, but those who must do so for work still can.
“It’s really in social contexts," Drouin said.
"It is up to us, all of us, to do everything we can to limit the spread. We can do it and we must do it," Plante said.
Montreal announced 219 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the city's total since the start of the pandemic to 31,528.
WHEN PUBLIC HEALTH CALLS
Drouin said 512 calls were made over the weekend for contact-tracing purposes and only a third of those calls were answered.
“We need your collaboration if you’re a case or a contact," she said.
Some Montrealers have complained the phone calls have been coming from a blocked number, and Drouin said the team is looking at tweaking the system. As it stands, public health will attempt to call a person twice, and then will send a letter to the person's home asking them to call back within 24 hours.
TO TEST OR NOT TO TEST
Public health is reminding Montrealers only to get tested when they show symptoms of COVID-19, have come into contact with a confirmed case or have been called and told to do so.
“For people who sometimes go – for different reasons – but who are asymptomatic and aren’t at risk – it’s not necessary," Drouin said.
PREPARING FOR A SECOND WAVE
Belanger announced that a command centre has been set up to regroup all the health-care facilities in the city, such as the many integrated health centres and individual hospitals.
"The goal of the command centre is to coordinate the services," Belanger said. "Everybody has a plan, but it's important to put together, two or three times a week, the activities of the hospitals, of long-term care homes, of CLSCs."
Belanger said the health-care system is better prepared for a second wave -- and that services like surgeries will be maintained going forward.
"Our message is keep going to your appointments. The hospitals are ready," Belanger said. "Measures are in place to make sure health-care settings are safe for users."