MONTREAL -- Hours after provincial health officials confimed that a second person in Quebec has COVID-19, preliminary tests indicate that a third person also has the disease, the health ministry said late on Thursday.

The Health Ministry announced the third case but noted that presumptive cases have to be confirmed at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg which, only hours earlier, had confirmed that the province's second presumptive case of the disease was, indeed, a case of COVID-19, the new coronavirus that has caused global alarm.

The second case was a man who had returned from a trip to India and was treated in Mont-Laurier, in the Laurentians, the health ministry confirmed.

There will be full investigation into how many members of medical staff came in contact with him and to ensure all the proper protocols were followed, said Denis Provencher, interim president of nurses' union the FIQ des Laurentides.

The patient was transferred to the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, one of four designated quarantine units in the province.

He has been admitted to hospital and is in stable condition under quarantine, the Jewish General Hospital said in a news release.

The woman diagnosed with the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Quebec has returned home under self-isolation after being evaluated at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

In total across the province, 20 people are currently under investigation and so far and 242 people have been cleared after a negative test for COVID-19.

The rest of the infected patients in Canada are in Ontario and British Columbia.

The health ministry wants to remind people that the overall risk of being infected with the coronavirus is still considered low in Quebec. Recognized hygiene measures, such as hand washing, remain the best way to prevent infections.


As part of the effort to contain any possible outbreaks the STM announced they will ramp up the metro system's cleaning schedule. Handles and tripods in metro cars will be cleaned at least once a week, rather than every five to six weeks. Bus poles and handles will also be disinfected weekly. 

Exo public transport said it would ramp its efforts in commuter rail cars as well. Floors, carpets, headrests and heating vents will be cleaned weekly while seats and doors will be cleaned monthly. 

Quebec Director General for the Protection of Public Health Yves Jalbert advised Montrealers they should still exercise vigilance and keep their hands clean. He noted the virus can survive for several days on a dry surface and up to six days on a wet one.

"Make sure that people wash their hands because if we don't, if somebody gets into the subway and touches things, it's not effective anymore even if you washed it half an hour ago," he said. 

- With reporting from The Canadian Press