MONTREAL -- More grim numbers have emerged at a long-term care facility in suburban Montreal as the Canadian Armed Forces prepared to fan out to nursing homes across a city that has become Canada's COVID-19 epicentre.

So far, 61 of 99 residents at the Residence Herron have tested positive for COVID-19, with some results still pending, according to the regional health authority.

Some of the residents have been hospitalized "because of their condition," said Guillaume Berube, a spokesman for the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Ile-de-Montreal.

The new numbers do not include the 31 deaths reported earlier at the facility, which came under provincial trusteeship after reports of appalling conditions at the home.

"Because of the 31 deaths, there's an investigation, and I can confirm that five of them died because of the virus," Berube said in a phone interview Saturday.

As he spoke, 125 military personnel with medical expertise geared up to deploy to nursing homes in the Montreal area after Premier Francois Legault took the unusual step of asking the federal government for assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces.

"For the moment, five long-term care centres in the Greater Montreal area are at the heart of the reconnaissance efforts and the needs analysis will be performed in liaison with the civilian teams on site," the Forces said in a release Saturday.

The regional health authority for Montreal's West Island, which is now overseeing the Residence Herron, confirmed it will receive support from a team of military nurses and orderlies over the next few days.

"A meeting will also take place today to determine which establishments in its jurisdiction will receive this support as a priority," Berube said.

The so-called intervention teams bound for the five long-term care homes in Montreal will be composed of one nurse and 12 technicians, each supported by support staff, the Forces said.

The regional health authority is also partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to organize training for volunteers at nursing homes ravaged by the pandemic.