'Stay home': Quebec health minister's urgent appeal after another daily record for new COVID-19 cases

Quebecers need to stay at home in the coming weeks if we want to still have a chance at breaking the second wave of COVID-19, Health Minister Christian Dube is warning.

Quebec health authorities reported 1,364 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, beating the province's single-day record for the second day in a row and bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic above 80,000.

There have now been 81,014 cumulative cases of COVID-19 in Quebec since the pandemic began. 

Dube launched the urgent appeal to the Quebecers at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

The province is also reporting 17 more deaths linked to the disease, three of which occurred in the past 24 hours. Nine more are from between Sept. 29 and Oct. 4, one is from before Sept. 29, and four are from an unknown date. Two deaths are being retracted from the total because health officials have found them attributable to reasons other than COVID-19. The total number of deaths in the province now stands at 5,899.

Hospitalizations in the province increased by 36 from Monday to Tuesday, bringing the total number of patients receiving care in Quebec hospitals to 397. Of those in hospital, 67 are in intensive care, which is an increase of five from the number reported 24 hours earlier. 

The province reported 853 new recoveries on Tuesday. There are now 67,033 people who are confirmed recovered from the disease in the province -- or 82.7 per cent of Quebec's cumulative cases.

Quebec health officials reported that they completed analyses of 20,339 COVID-19 tests on Oct. 4 (Quebec reports its daily testing figures from two days prior).  

As expected, Dube said, community transmission is now happening throughout Quebec. It ends up having an impact on the health network, even if the virus initially strikes younger and healthier people, a change from how the disease spread during the first wave in the spring. 

Dube denied to reporters that health officials were caught off guard by the second wave.

"The severity and the speed at which the second wave is hitting, I'm glad we were ready. But we cannot control the way people react to these measures," said Dube. "So we need to repeat this message as many times as possible: 'You can make a difference today.'"

The number of hospitalizations has been rising steadily for the past month, increasing the pressure on the health network.

About 75 per cent of the population of Quebec lives in the red zone, and is therefore now on maximum alert. 

Quebec currently has 500 active outbreaks.

Dube said it is very difficult to determine exactly where each infected person contracted COVID-19.

"It's really hard to say, when you have a student being diagnosed at school, where he got it. Did he get it from his parent? Did he get it from his friend? From an uncle who got it at work? It is very difficult to know exactly where you got it," he said. "That's the reason we are saying right now, we are shutting down all those places where we can get together, because we don't know exactly."

Dube added a warning about putting a strain on the health care network.

"Don't take the risk. Please don't test the hospital system. Nurses, doctors, what they are asking you is to please, stay home," he said.

On Monday, Quebec rolled out Ottawa's COVID Alert tracking app and Premier Francois Legault urged Quebecers with smartphones to download it. 

“To be efficient, we need as many people as possible to register," he said. "In Quebec, we are six million people with a smartphone, so I'm asking, right now, all those who are listening to go register right away. That way, we will create a chain of solidarity and the greater the number of people registered, the more successful we will be and the faster we can go back to a normal way of life.”

- with files from The Canadian Press

  COVID-19 CASES IN QUEBEC
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