MONTREAL -- UPDATE: Quebec on Saturday confirms 14 new COVID-19 deaths as cases in the province reach almost 7,000.


Quebec has now had 61 COVID-19 deaths amid the 6,101 confirmed cases in the province as of 1 p.m. Friday, the government announced.

That's up sharply from the 36 deaths and 5,518 cases that were reported 24 hours earlier.

Health authorities said not all of these additional deaths occurred in the last 24 hours; 20 were suspected COVID-19 deaths that were confirmed since yesterday.

One of the Quebecers whose death was newly reported was a Montrealer in their 30s whose condition was exacerbated due to obesity, said Horacio Arruda, Quebec's national director of public health.

There were 429 Quebecers being treated in a hospital for COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon (up 64 from Wednesday); 122 of them are in intensive care (up 26 over the past 24 hours.)

Health authorities said 231 Quebecers who had been diagnosed for COVID-19 have now recovered.

Montreal remains the epicentre of COVID-19 cases in Quebec, with 2,837 cases - far away the most hard-hit region in the province. You can find a complete regional breakdown here.


Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced that Quebec will be providing its longer-term COVID-19 projections - including potential deaths - on Tuesday, as Ontario did Friday; health authorities there forecast as many as 15,000 deaths in the province with the public-health orders there being followed and up to 100,000 if they are not.

Legault also said that as orders placed for much-needed medical supplies continue to come in, the province's situation in that regard is improving, and that the Quebec health-care network now has enough critical supplies to cover another eight days - a situation Legault expects will continue to improve.

Regarding the worrisome number of outbreaks in senior's residences across Quebec, Health Minister Danielle McCann confirmed Friday that families may now take home their relatives in government-run CHSLDs or private seniors residences - provided that those family members are healthy. Families must also pick up their family members outside the residences; they will not be allowed inside to pick them up.

"We have been very sensitive to this situation," McCann said Friday. "We discussed this matter very quickly and this is the action that we have decided to take."

Quebec continues to have the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, which health authorities have said is a result of the province's spring break having started earlier than in other provinces, Quebec's increased numbers of people tested, and the fact that Quebec includes presumptive cases among its daily tally of confirmed ones.

Legault continued to urge Quebecers to follow the province's public-health orders and maintain physical distancing in hopes of "flattening the curve" of COVID-19 cases in Quebec.

"When you see the number of cases increasing every day, it may give the impression that what you are doing is not working, but all the efforts that are being made to defeat the virus will work," Legault said. "For the moment, we are doing well, but we must continue to reduce contact between people as much as possible, hence the importance of always keeping a distance and, even better, staying at home.

"If everyone follows our guidelines, we will save hundreds of lives."

Earlier Friday, Quebec announced that it is kicking in an additional $150 million to help small- and medium-sized businesses in the province that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quebec has also decided to buttress the earnings of low-income workers in essential businesses and services by offering them a $100-a-week bonus, retroactive to March 15, for a period of 16 weeks. To qualify, workers must be employed by an essential business or service as recognized by the Quebec government and earn less than $28,600 a year.

Legault also announced he will be taking Saturday off; he will be replaced at the province's daily COVID-19 briefing by Deputy Premier and Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault.