Quebec reports about 25 schools with COVID-19 cases as officials urge caution over long weekend

As Quebec continues to see an upward trend in novel coronavirus cases, the province’s health minister said the situation remains under control but urged citizens to be more vigilant over the long weekend.

Christian Dubé announced Friday that the government will publish a list of the approximately 25 schools with confirmed COVID-19 cases. He said the majority of the cases didn’t originate in the school but outside the building.

“It’s not outbreaks in schools and that’s very good news,” he told reporters in Montreal, adding he knows the start of the school year hasn’t been perfect but that the province was prepared.

Parents have also played a significant role in containing the spread of the virus by being transparent about reporting symptoms to schools, Dubé said.

He called on Quebecers to abide by public health measures to prevent a second wave, saying the majority of new cases are not in schools or long-term care homes — and that the recent spike in the past two weeks is alarming.

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Dubé specifically pointed to a 17-person dinner party in Laval, on Montreal’s north shore, that accounted for 14 new cases.

“We are really in outbreaks that stem from the community,” he said. “It’s when we see our families, when we have social activities and our daily activities.”

Earlier in the day, Premier François Legault also expressed concerns about the second day in a row that Quebec recorded more than 180 new cases.

“We’re very far from the levels in spring but the increases need to stop,” he said.

Evaluating region by region

While there are no plans to tighten restrictions, Legault has said this week he’s not opposed to it. The province could reconsider recent decisions to open bars and to allow indoor public gatherings of up to 250 people, but stressed lockdown measures would be implemented region by region.

Dubé, for his part, spoke of a system Friday that will allow regions to be designated by zone, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases found in those regions.

Details of the system were to be revealed Tuesday, although Dubé compared it to the warning notice boards already found in certain parks in Quebec.

Quebec reported 184 new cases Friday, for a total of 63,117. The province remains the hardest hit by the health crisis and has the highest death toll in Canada at 5,767 to date.

The province also recorded one additional death attributed to the virus in the past 24 hours. The total number of deaths remained stable from the previous day, however, because one death previously added to the tally was found to be unrelated to the pandemic.

Hospitalizations rose by two from the previous day for a total of 102. Of those patients, 18 are in intensive care — a decrease of two.

Health authorities said 19,128 tests were administered on Wednesday, the most recent day for which testing data is available. To date, 1,721,243 tests have been given.

— With files from Global News’ Dan Spector and the Canadian Press

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