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Quebec reported eight additional deaths due to COVID-19 on Sunday as health officials south of Montreal probed a cluster of positive cases stemming from a local bar.

The province, the hardest hit in Canada by COVID-19, has reported 5,574 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, but only one of those reported on Sunday was classified as a new death.

Authorities said the other seven deaths occurred before June 27.

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The province also reported 79 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 55,863.

On Saturday, the province had crept up over 100 daily cases for the first time since June 20.

The number of hospitalizations and intensive-care cases decreased slightly for a total of 371 and 26 patients, respectively.

As the province has gradually reopened sectors, health authorities have said they’ve been keeping watch for outbreaks, like one on Montreal’s South Shore where health officials warned of COVID-19 cases stemming from people who went to a bar in Brossard, Que.

Health officials urged patrons who went to the Mile Public House restaurant in the Dix-30 commercial district on the evening of June 30 between 8 p.m. and closing to get tested.

The restaurant also urged patrons to isolate and get tested, noting in an online post that the outbreak involves five people from the same group, seated at the same table.

Dr. Julie Loslier, the regional public health director, said in a video published Sunday that it was a reminder to respect prevention instructions in all shops and public places.

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“It would be a mistake to think that this establishment is more at risk or more dangerous than another. This is not at all the case,” Loslier said.

She noted the bar has already been disinfected and was only identified because of the public health investigation under way, but added this kind of transmission can occur in any business.

The restaurant management said on its Facebook page that all employees will be tested and those working that night have are self-isolating.

Loslier drew attention to the COVID-19 situation in the United States, where bars have been at the heart of some outbreaks.

“We have seen with our neighbours to the south that the situation with bars has given rise to outbreaks and more and more cases, especially among younger populations, and we would especially not want to have to go back,” she said.

Loslier said physical distancing seems to narrow with alcohol consumption, but the responsibility for following public health rules is a shared one between owners and customers.

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Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s public health director, was in the region on Friday and warned citizens not to let their guard down and continue to practice physical distancing, hygiene measures and wearing masks when a two-metre distance can’t be kept.

Also Friday, the hospital in St-Jerome, Que., about 60 kilometres north of Montreal, announced it was suspending regular visits indefinitely and restricting access to its end-of-life, palliative and birthing units with authorization only after a novel coronavirus outbreak in the facility.

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