Quebec health officials announced 142 new cases of COVID-19, which is the most it has reported since the province also recorded the same amount of daily cases on June 25.
On Thursday, ten fatalities were added to its death toll of 5,646. Nine of the deaths occurred in the past 24 hours, while the other victim died before July 8.
The increase in cases comes as Montreal and surrounding areas continue to fight the spread of COVID-19 in connection to bars, which were allowed to reopen June 25.
On July 11, Montreal public health officials asked anyone who has been to a bar in the city since Canada Day to get tested, prompting thousands to come forward. At the time, there were eight cases linked to five bars. There are now 45 cases linked to at least 14 bars, as of an update Wednesday evening, according to Aaron Derfel of the Montreal Gazette.
“At this moment, we haven’t ruled out closing the bars,” Quebec Premier François Legault said.
A decision on closing bars and nightclubs is expected to come in the upcoming days, not weeks, said health minister Christian Dubé, who noted he’s “a little worried” about the uptick in cases. In the meantime, Dubé wants to establish a clear connection between the rise in cases and the questioned establishments.
Montreal remains the epicentre with 27,787 total cases, up by 258 since a week ago today. But the spread of COVID-19 continues to gain pace in other parts of the province in connection to bars and parties. The Laurentides region has 3,644 cases (up by 72) and Montérégie has 8,278 (up by 190).
Last week, officials added restrictions on bars to help control the spread. For example, they can only operate at 50 per cent of their capacity, customers must be seated, and last call is at midnight. Health officials are currently having trouble with contact tracing, since bars did not have customer registries in place until Friday.
“We tightened the rules,” Legault said. “But yes, I have concerns.”
Throughout the pandemic, there have been 57,001 cases of COVID-19 in Quebec. That includes 26,253 recovered patients, up by 156 since Wednesday. Of the 25,102 active cases that remain, there are 277 in hospital (down by eight), while 20 patients remain in intensive care.
Quebec’s testing numbers are reflective of its outputs from two days prior. In its latest 24-hour stretch, the province completed 12,041 tests for COVID-19. The province is below its goal of 14,000, but it’s the most health officials have completed since June 5.
With mass testing underway in Montreal, which has led to lines as long as five hours, three new testing sites are set to open this week.