Quebec reports 16 deaths from COVID-19, over 900 new cases
LATEST UPDATE HERE: Quebec reports more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases, 27 more hospitalizations
Public health authorities in Quebec reported a surge in new COVID-19 cases, and deaths due to the disease Thursday as certain regions begin a new lockdown after being designated red zones.
Authorities announced that 933 more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours and two people died during the same period.
In addition, the government reported 14 new deaths: 12 people died between Sept. 24-29 and two died before Sept. 24 due to the disease.
Legault noted the dramatic rise in deaths during Question Period in the National Assembly, responding to a question from Liberal opposition leader Dominique Anglade about why certain business sectors are closed and not others.
"We have seen in the last weeks and days, over 800 cases per day," the premier responded. "We went from 100 hospitalizations to 250. Today we have 16 new deaths. It's unfortunate but we need to close museums and other social activites. From what I understand the Liberal leader doesn't agree with these measures. I think is unfortunate but it's the right thing to do."
"I know we've made some tough decisions in the recent the days, but they are a lives in danger and fighting the virus must remain our priority," Legault added.
The total deaths in the province now comes to 5,850, and there have been 75,221 positive cases since the start of the pandemic.
The Island of Montreal reported 319 new cases (34,055 total), the Quebec City region increased by 128 (4,265 total) and Monteregie saw an increase of 108 cases (10,870 total).
The number of hospitalizations in the province increased by 13 from Wednesday to Thursday, and there are now 275 people receiving care in the province's hospitals for COVID-19. Of those, three more people are in the intensive care ward for a total of 46.
Quebec reports that 580 more people have recovered from the disease and the total number of recoveries is now 63,144.
Health-care professionals analyzed 33,510 samples Sept. 29. (Quebec provides sampling data from two days prior to its daily updates).
Three Quebec regions face partial lockdown measures starting today after reaching the highest COVID-19 alert level earlier this week.
People living in the greater Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudiere-Appalaches region south of the provincial capital will live with the new restrictions for at least 28 days as the province tries to get COVID-19 cases under control.
Quebec police will be able to obtain telewarrants permitting them to enter people's homes to enforce lockdown orders that enter into effect Thursday.
Anyone in red zone regions caught hosting a private gathering of people from different addresses is liable to a $1,000 fine, which actually add up to around $1,500 if you consider the fees.
There are concerns about police being able to obtain telewarants to crack down on gatherings -- one criminal lawyer says he thinks the measures go too far and might not stand up in court.
"It’s very heavy handed... the house, person where he lives is being invaded," said Jeffrey Boro, a defence lawyer.
Some Montrealers are also concerned about who police might decide to ticket, given the documented history of racial profiling in the city.
"We’re just calling on use of fairness and discretion and bias-free policing, we’ll have to wait and see what happens," said Alain Babineau from the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations.
When asked specifics about the lockdown, the premier and Arruda tried to describe a series of specific situations, but ultimately asked Quebecers to not gather indoors or outdoors, to stay two metres apart and to use their judgment.
"It's a common sense issue. Quebecers understand that this is currently not the time to invite guest into your home," Legault said."If there's an elderly person in need of care, or you need a plumber because a pipe is broken, there are exceptions. It's a judgment call."
Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon announced that restaurants, bars and other businesses in Quebec's red zone that must close will be eligible for an 80 per cent reimbursement of most of their expenses up to $15,000, including municipal taxes, rent and utility bills.
About 12,000 businesses would be affected. The measure will cost the government up to $100 million.