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Quebec Premier Francois Legault removes his face mask to speak to the media as he arrives for a visit to a CHSLD seniors residence in L'Assomption, Que., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says he doesn’t think a potential second wave of COVID-19 will strike as hard as the first one did in Canada’s worst-hit province.

Legault said many of the infections occurred in the early weeks when infected employees brought the virus into long-term care homes and seniors’ residences while not wearing proper protective equipment.

“I think that if we have a second wave, we will be a lot better prepared, because, first, we’ll have 10,000 more people working in our (long-term care homes),” Legault told reporters in Mascouche, Que., on Tuesday.

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And those workers will be wearing masks when meeting with patients, which he said wasn’t always the case early on in the pandemic and contributed to the 5,000 deaths in nursing homes. “I think we’ll be more ready for that,” he said.

Legault met with some of those 10,000 new orderlies who are being trained in the Lanaudiere region to begin working in long-term care and seniors’ homes in mid-September.

The premier’s comments came as the province reported the daily number of COVID-19 cases was under 100 for a second consecutive day.

Quebec reported 91 cases of the disease linked to the novel coronavirus and one COVID-19-related death.

The province has reported a total of 60,718 cases and 5,697 deaths attributed to the virus.

Legault said mandatory face coverings on public transit and in indoor public places should also help limit transmission during a second wave.

Rules requiring masks have been met with weekly protests in various corners of the province, including a large gathering in downtown Montreal last weekend.

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Legault pleaded with mask opponents to listen.

“I can tell you that with 5,000 deaths, yes the virus is very violent and it can kill you,” Legault said. “So I’m asking them to believe me … it’s not a joke.”

The number of patients in hospital dropped by six to 151 on Tuesday, with 21 of them in intensive care, the same number as the day before.

Legault said the province intends to conduct an investigation into the impact of COVID-19 in the province’s long-term care homes but remained evasive about the form it would take and the timing.

“There will be a detailed investigation,” Legault said, adding that it could wait until after a possible second wave.

In June, Quebec’s chief coroner announced a vast public inquiry into deaths at some of the province’s long-term care homes, private seniors’ residences and other accommodations for vulnerable people.

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