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People walk along a street in Montreal, on Oct. 17, 2020.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of almost half of young adults in Montreal, according to a survey by the city’s public health agency.

Forty-five per cent of Montrealers surveyed between the ages of 18 and 29 said the pandemic has had a “significant impact” on their mental health. That’s compared to 36 per cent of respondents between 30 and 49 years old, and 31 per cent of respondents between 50 and 64 years old.

Slightly more than 30 per cent of respondents in the 18-29 age bracket said they lost their jobs because of the pandemic – compared to 22 per cent of people between the ages of 30 and 64.

More young adults are struggling to pay their rent and to buy food compared with people in other age brackets, Dr. Mylene Drouin, Montreal’s public health director, told reporters Wednesday.

Fourteen per cent of young adults surveyed said the pandemic has affected their ability to pay rent, while 19 per cent said they anticipated it will. Among people 30 to 49 years old, 10 per cent said they’ve had trouble paying rent while 15 per cent anticipated they will.

The public health agency contacted 3,025 Montrealers by phone to participate in the survey, between April and May. No margin of error was provided for the survey.

Quebec reported 1,072 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 19 additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Officials said, however, that only two of those deaths took place within the past 24 hours while the rest occurred on or before Oct. 19.

Health Minister Christian Dube said earlier in the day on Twitter that in the past 24 hours, 64 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 while 64 patients were discharged, leaving the number of hospitalizations stable at 565.

Drouin said the number of daily COVID-19 infections reported in Montreal is stable. In Montreal, the virus’s reproduction number – the average number of cases an infected person will cause – is below one, she said.

The number of tests conducted in Montreal has declined, she said, adding that the positivity rate of those tests has gone up – to about five per cent.

“We are seeing a plateau – but all our indicators are still in the red zone,” she said, referencing Quebec’s colour-coded alert levels. “Red” is the maximum alert level.

Also on Wednesday, provincial health authorities moved the entirety of the Mauricie and Centre-du-Quebec regions to red alert. Parts of those regions, including the city of Trois-Rivieres, were already at the highest alert level.

In Trois-Rivieres, a private high school has moved all classes online until Oct. 26 after a COVID-19 outbreak. Valerie Provencher, a spokeswoman for the regional health authority, said in an email that 71 Seminaire Saint-Joseph students tested positive for COVID-19.

While a number of media reports have linked the outbreak to a game of “spin the bottle” at a party attended by students, Provencher said authorities still can’t confirm the source.

Across the province, there are four public long-term care homes and nine private seniors residences where more than 25 per cent of residents have COVID-19, according to government data.

The province conducted 21,902 COVID-19 tests on Oct. 19, the last day for which testing data is available. Quebec has reported a total of 96,288 cases of COVID-19 and 6,074 deaths linked to the virus.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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