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It’s highly unlikely Quebec will reimpose a partial lockdown on its citizens this fall if there is a second wave of COVID-19, the province’s top doctor said Friday.

Horacio Arruda, Director of Public Health, told reporters that forcing people to stay home can have negative consequences on society, including for children and the elderly.

“We saved a lot of lives, but when we confine people, especially young people, there are consequences,” he told reporters in Montreal. “They need to go to school, they need to socialize. Elderly people can have significant cognitive and physical losses.”

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Dr. Arruda said health officials now know more about COVID-19, especially the role of asymptomatic transmission.

But he warned the province is at the cusp of a second wave and the population needs to follow health directives to reduce the number of cases and avoid overloading the health care system.

“We can’t go back to the way it was before COVID,” he said, warning he’s seen some people grow lax about certain health measures such as handwashing. “The virus is in Quebec, it’s here, it’s here to stay.”

Dr. Arruda was in Montreal alongside local health officials to present a summary of the first wave of the novel coronavirus.

Montreal’s Health Director, Mylène Drouin, said the city was hard-hit by the pandemic, especially in long-term care homes and seniors’ residences, which accounted for 88 per cent of deaths. Health care workers also suffered, she said, accounting for 22 per cent of infections.

But Dr. Drouin said the city recorded some successes, particularly when it came to limiting community transmission.

The province reported 108 additional COVID-19 cases Friday and no new deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. Quebec has had a total of 60,241 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 5,687 deaths attributed to the disease.

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Dr. Drouin said the city needs to be ready for a second wave, especially as university and college students return to school in the fall. If infections surge during that period, health officials, she said, will prioritize testing, contact tracing, and protecting seniors’ residences.

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