This week in COVID-19: what you need to know

COVID-19 Update for Saturday, May 30

Avleen K Mokha

covid-19 montreal sign protect each other aerial view montreal city pandemic health emergency
Aerial view of Montreal during the COVID-19 health emergency, with a sign reading “On se protège” (We protect each other). Photo: Manny Fortin / Unsplash

COVID-19 refers to the disease caused by a new kind of coronavirus. Coronavirus is a family of viruses that can affect animals and humans. The family of viruses causes respiratory illnesses.

The new kind of coronavirus was first found in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Since then, the virus has spread to over 200 countries.

The global numbers

As of today there are 5,819,962 confirmed cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). 362,786 people have died due to COVID-19.

The latest in Quebec

Quebec confirms 419 new cases since yesterday’s update. This Friday the number of people infected with COVID-19 passed 50,000.

As of today, there are 50,651 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province.

The province confirmed 76 new deaths today, bringing Quebec’s death toll to 4,439 since the crisis started.

In the province, 1,197 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19, a decrease of 68 since yesterday. The number of patients in intensive care stands at 167.

Half of Quebec’s cases come from metropolitan regions.

As of today, Montreal has 25,227 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Cases in the neighbourhood

Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension has 1,882 confirmed cases as of today. That’s 165 new cases since last Saturday.

117 people have died in the borough because of the disease. That’s 9 new deaths in this past week.

Main stories of the week

Here is a recap of the main headlines this week:

Government introduces training program to address staff shortage

The Health Ministry and Education Ministry will work together to organize three-month training sessions for young people hoping to help fill the staffing gaps in the province’s nursing homes.

Retail stores reopen in Montreal

Retail stores in Montreal that have direct outdoor access reopened Monday morning. 

Shopping malls outside the Montreal area can reopen June 1.

COVID-19 clinics reduce testing hours due to heat alert

This week saw Montreal’s first heat alert for the summer. Health and social services have converted city buses into testing clinics that are testing priority regions at the moment. However, hotter weather reduced hours of operation for these clinics, due to the risk of overheating inside the buses.

The clinic set up in Park Extension earlier this week, next to Parc metro, closed two hours before its usual time on Tuesday and Wednesday. The clinic tested residents 10 am to 2 pm. Typically the clinic operates from 10 am to 4 pm.

Province reacts to military report on Quebec long term senior homes

Patients in long term senior homes make up more than 60% of deaths in Quebec. A report prepared by the Canadian military says the proper use of protective equipment and staffing shortages remain major challenges in senior homes.

The report came out Wednesday this week. Quebec Premier Francois Legault said the report had “no surprises.”

Province aims to target hiring 10,000 new workers

The majority of daily care in senior homes comes from orderlies. In French such workers are called préposés aux bénéficiaires (PABs).

The military reports the shortage of PABs as a key issue in managing outbreaks. In response, Premier Legault plans to hire 10,000 more employees by the end of summer.

The starting salary will be $26 per hour — after the completion of a 3 month training program.

Plan to hire immigrants to work in senior homes

Additionally, Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette announced a plan to hire 550 immigrants to work as orderlies in the province’s long-term care homes. The province will recruit workers through the Quebec Experience Program, known by its French initials as the PEQ.

In December 2018, Minister Jolin-Barette cut down the number of applicants accepted yearly through the program, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s concerns.

Courts to reopen June 1

Quebec’s courts and other tribunals will reopen on June 1, Justice Minister Sonia Lebel announced Thursday. However, virtual trials will become common.

Salons, tattoo shops to reopen June 15

Hair dressers, tattoo parlours and other personal-care businesses will be able to reopen June 15 in the Montreal area and Joliette.

Outdoor pools to reopen, swimmers must keep 2 meter distance

Today afternoon public health officials announced that public outdoor swimming pools and splash pads can reopen everywhere in the province.

Strategic Medical Advisor for public health Richard Masse explained that chlorinated water would not allow the spread of COVID-19. Swimmers must keep a distance of 2 meters.

Despite the green light from public health, the final decision ultimately falls on the organization which bears the cost of opening its pool.

Earlier this week, the borough of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension opened its public water parks for the summer.

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