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Annette Demeny, left, visits through the window with her friend Concetta Lamberto at the Vigi Mount Royal seniors residence May 1, 2020 in Montreal North. The area has been identified as one of the hardest hit with COVID-19 on the island.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Quebec plans to administer about 100,000 COVID-19 tests a week in order to better manage cases of community transmission as the province begins to gradually reopen schools, factories, construction sites and retail stores.

By the end of next week, Quebec will have the capacity to administer up to 14,000 tests a day, Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of public health, said Friday. He said the new testing strategy more than doubles the province’s current capacity.

“By administering about 100,000 test a week, with all that entails, such as human resources challenges, data collection, laboratory work and epidemiological follow-up – it’s unheard of,” Arruda told reporters in Quebec City.

The province announced earlier this week elementary schools and daycares will reopen outside Montreal on May 11 and within the greater Montreal area on May 19. Retail stores, along with the construction and manufacturing sectors, are scheduled to reopen across the province by May 11.

Arruda and Quebec Premier François Legault have stated that with the gradual reopening of the economy, they expect infection rates to rise. The government’s strategy is to monitor schools and businesses for COVID-19 outbreaks and rapidly test people when they occur.

“We want to discover the positive cases, we want to investigate even more up the chain of transmission and isolate people who are susceptible to transmit the virus,” Arruda said.

Arruda estimates about three per cent of Quebec’s population has been infected with COVID-19, representing about 250,000 people – nearly nine times the current number of confirmed cases in the province.

The province will maintain the capacity to administer roughly 7,000 tests a day for workers and patients in the health care sector. About 6,000 tests will be reserved for asymptomatic people “in the community,” Arruda said. The province is reserving another 1,000 daily tests for sudden outbreaks of the virus, Arruda said.

Quebec reported 163 deaths related to COVID-19 Friday, for a total of 2,022, but Arruda says most of those deaths did not occur in the past 24 hours.

The province also reported an increase of four people in intensive care, for a total of 218 patients.

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