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A woman holds up a sign encouraging people to stay two metres apart during an outdoor event in Montreal, on Sept. 20, 2020.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Quebec has launched into a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and is responding with new restrictions to try once again to flatten the curve and prevent breaking the health system.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s Director of Public Health, unveiled the new limitations on Monday as the province announced 586 new cases, 124 more than the previous day and more than double the number of new cases five days ago. He warned indicators for the days ahead promise no improvement.

Quebec’s new cases have surpassed those in Ontario which has nearly twice the population. Ontario announced 425 cases, the largest number since June. Quebec hospitalizations reached 148 Monday, double the number 17 days earlier, and outbreaks in seniors’ homes have started to grow.

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Daycare union asks Quebec to appoint arbitrator in contract talks

André Picard: We need to make it clear who exactly should be tested for the coronavirus and why

“We are at the start of a second wave,” Dr. Arruda said during a news conference Monday. “The situation is very serious everywhere in Quebec. … If we want to enjoy a calm Christmas, people have to collaborate. This is major.”

This spread is taking place in communities across the province, including places largely spared the first wave such as Quebec City and areas of eastern Quebec. Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume held a news conference Monday saying his citizens are “in the process of losing control. We’re going to hit the wall.”

The rapid rise in cases from the second wave is straining public-health capacities.

Like Ontario, Quebec’s testing centres have been swamped, sometimes by people seeking reassurance or to meet school requirements. Dr. Arruda reinforced the message that only people with symptoms, close contact to cases or a request from public health should get tested in Quebec.

Daily CoVID-19 cases in Quebec

From March 4 to Sept. 21, 2020

Confirmed new cases

7-day rolling average

 

 

2,400

Note: 1,317 confirmed

cases from the month of

April were added retroac-

tively in Quebec causing

a spike of 2,209 cases on

May 3.

2,200

2,000

1,800

1,600

1,400

1,200

1,000

800

600

400

200

0

May

March

April

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

john sopinski and chen wang/THE GLOBE AND

MAIL, SOURCE: globe covid-19 tracker

Daily CoVID-19 cases in Quebec

From March 4 to Sept. 21, 2020

Confirmed new cases

7-day rolling average

 

 

2,400

Note: 1,317 confirmed cases

from the month of April were

added retroactively in

Quebec causing a spike of

2,209 cases on May 3.

2,200

2,000

1,800

1,600

1,400

1,200

1,000

800

600

400

200

0

May

March

April

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

john sopinski and chen wang/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: globe covid-19 tracker

Daily CoVID-19 cases in Quebec

From March 4 to Sept. 21, 2020

Confirmed new cases

7-day rolling average

 

 

2,400

Note: 1,317 confirmed cases from the

month of April were added retroactive-

ly in Quebec causing a spike of 2,209

cases on May 3.

2,200

2,000

1,800

1,600

1,400

1,200

1,000

800

600

400

200

0

May

March

April

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

john sopinski and chen wang/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: globe covid-19 tracker

Dr. Mylène Drouin of Montreal public health said contact tracing has become increasingly difficult. The return to school and increased socializing means each case has dozens more contacts to trace. People are also not picking up the phone.

“On the weekend we called 512 people and only a third of them picked up the phone,” Dr. Drouin said. “Public-health activities such as tracing and isolating contacts will be insufficient if we don’t reduce our contacts.”

Over the past several days, police across Quebec visited bars and large gatherings to ensure people were complying with public-health orders, handing out 1,500 warnings.

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Sunday night, the province raised the alert level for Montreal, much of Quebec City and a region south of the city. It reduced the number of people allowed to gather, including a limit of six or two families for private indoor gatherings. Bar hours were shortened in those regions and restaurant tables are now limited to six diners.

The province is also recommending against travel between regions. Dr. Arruda asked Quebeckers to stop throwing dinner parties before he has to order them to end.

Quebec’s latest moves go further than those in Ontario, where infections have also risen sharply along with wait times and long lines at testing centres. Last week, Ontario established large fines for those who organize or attend private gatherings and parties, limiting those indoors to 10 people and those outdoors to 25. The orders exclude some businesses and schools.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Health Minister, Christine Elliott, promised to unveil other elements of the government’s long-awaited fall preparedness plan this week, starting on Tuesday.

Ms. Elliott said the plan would involve finding ways to keep hospitals open for surgeries amid a second wave, as well as boosting testing capacity and allowing pharmacies to conduct tests.

Two-thirds of Ontario infections were in people under the age of 40. The province’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, Barbara Yaffe, warned that younger people may be letting their guard down and failing to wear masks or keep to a two-metre distance while socializing.

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Mr. Ford made no indication that tighter pandemic regulations are coming. He also said the government was “doing fabulous” as it ramps up its testing. And he lashed out at those behind a large impromptu amateur “car show” in Hamilton, attended by hundreds in defiance of his government’s orders against large gatherings.

“I just don’t get it,” he said, addressing those partying without heeding health advice. “If we weren’t so backlogged on MRIs, I’d send you to the MRI to get your brain scanned because I don’t think there’s anything in there.”

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