Opposition calls on Quebec government to protect seniors from repeat of spring COVID-19 spread

The Legault government is under pressure to keep COVID-19 from once again spreading among older Quebecers, leading to hospitalizations and deaths.

There were more than 30 new infections in the last week at the Manoir Plaza on Sherbrooke St. in downtown Montreal. Of them, seven people were admitted to hospital and one person has died.

Now all residents there have been isolated, with no visitors or outings permitted. Common spaces are also off-limits and all activities are cancelled.

"We have to make sure we do not live the same tragedy in private residences as we lived in CHSLDs," said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Quebec solidaire spokesperson, referring to the province’s public long-term care homes.

In September, Quebec tightened health measures in the province’s private residences, making masks mandatory in their common areas.

But that's too little too late for the opposition, who's now asking for an emergency plan.

"Like a lot of decisions from that government, it's a decision that comes too late. We have to remember there are five times more elderly people in private residence than in CHSLDs," said Nadeau-Dubois. 

Quebec solidaire is urging Quebec to order management in private residences to stop moving staff between facilities, which contributed to the high infection rate in long-term care homes in the spring.

The government said the province can't apply the same rules to private residences, but it's trying to find a solution.

"It's totally different than an environment of a CHSLD where you have vulnerable people with a high degree of disease," said Health Minister Christian Dube.

In the past week, cases have been doubling in people over the age of 65. So have hospitalizations.

This rise in cases isn't surprising, said infectious disease physician Matthew Oughton. 

"I think what we're finally starting to see is what has been largely predicted to happen, which is that the more community transmission there is, the greater the likelihood that you will see this disease do what we know it does so well, which is spill over into more vulnerable groups," he said.

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