MONTREAL -- Quebec is confirming 19 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total to 94.

The total number of confirmed cases is now at 7,944 cases, an increase of 947. Officials say 525 patients are in hospital, up by 47, and 154 of those are in intensive care. That's up by 24 cases in one day.

The province is also extending its closures of non-essential goods and services from April 13 to May 4, Premier Francois Legault announced on Sunday.

“If we relax our efforts, we’ll just delay the moment when we’ll be able to go back to our lives. The battle is far from over. In fact, we’re entering a decisive stage of this battle,” said Legault. “Every gesture at this point saves lives.”.

Quebec’s public health officials say as of Sunday, there are 2,847 people awaiting test results, 87,992 cases confirmed negative. At least 464 people are confirmed recovered, according to government data.

Montreal, where there are 3,713 confirmed cases, remains the region most affected by the pandemic. See the regional breakdown here.

During the daily press meeting, Legault said he was very proud of the result of a Google study of mobility changes: among the 60 states and provinces of North America, Quebec ranked first in lowering its movements. The premier said he was convinced that Quebecers’ behaviour is resulting in saving hundreds of lives.

Legault said the province has 13 days' worth of N95 masks after receiving a shipment of goods, and has about seven days worth of surgical masks and gowns. Accompanied by Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon and the strategic medical advisor for Quebec public health, Richard Massé, Legault said he was considering alternative solutions so that items such as masks and gloves are made in Quebec as much as possible.

Citing global demand for these items, Legault said the government is trying to be creative.

The premier also spoke about a project called Le Panier Bleu - a non-transactional, but rather directory-type website - where residents can search for Quebec products and services by region.

If it can increase local purchases per household by $5 per week, that's $1 billion for the Quebec economy, said Legault.

In a statement, Quebec Federation of Chambers of Commerce president and CEO Charles Milliard applaued the buy-local initiative.

“We are taking an important step in preparing for the economic recovery and we are witnessing a turning point in Quebec's retail trade," he said.


The ban on gathering is one of the government’s main measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Because many seemed to not take the government ban seriously enough, the province decided to crack down on the issue, by giving provincial and Montreal police the right to give $1,000 tickets on the spot to offenders.
All the other police forces in Quebec will soon also be able to issue tickets to enforce the order.
The concept of 'gathering' is however not defined in the order and no maximum number of people has been stated.
Asked to what extent the government was giving the police too much power and latitude, Legault said that the police had his full confidence and that he trusted their judgment.
 “A gathering is a gathering,” he said, “and to be less than two metres is to be less than two metres. And I trust the police to step in on cases that deserve fines.”
He added that he was not afraid of any issues caused by entrusting police with these new powers because the powers will be "very temporary for the duration of the crisis.”

Health Minister Danielle McCann and Public Health director Horacio Arruda took Sunday off, after Legault took a day off on Saturday.

With files form The Canadian Press