On March 18 of last year, Quebec recorded its first confirmed death from COVID-19. Mariette Tremblay, an 82-year-old mother of four and grandmother of nine, died after contracting the disease in her seniors’ residence in Lavaltrie, 50 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
A shaken looking Premier François Legault addressed the province the next day, saying: “If we needed proof of the gravity of the situation, we have it now.”
There were 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province at the time.
Less than 11 months later, Quebec recorded another sad milestone on the weekend, illuminating how grave the situation has become.
Quebec passed 10,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 on Sunday, as the province announced 32 fatalities. As the death of Mariette Tremblay foretold, the vast majority of those deaths would occur among the aged and those living in seniors’ residences and government-run long term care facilities.
The newly reported deaths, six of which occurred in the last 24 hours for which there is data, bring the province’s total to 10,031.
On Sunday, Ontario’s provincial death toll stood at 6,505 cases. Alberta was reporting 1,705 deaths on Saturday. British Columbia has lost 1,246 residents to the disease. Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories remain the only provinces with zero deaths, but others, like Yukon (1), Newfoundland and Labrador (4) and New Brunswick (20) have been able to keep their fatality rate low.
Quebec’s pandemic mortality rate towers above all other provinces at 1,159 per million people. In a distant second is Manitoba, with a rate of 607 per million inhabitants, according to the latest figures by the Institut national santé publique du Québec (INSPQ). On Saturday, Canada reported a total of 20,702 deaths caused by the pandemic, with Quebec comprising nearly half.
Health Minister Christian Dubé was emotional on Friday when asked to comment on the figure of 10,000 deaths.
“It’s sad,” Dubé said. “The only consolation I have personally is that things have improved in the second wave for a host of reasons. But at the same time, for me, one death is one too many.”
Although the number of COVID-19 fatalities is lower in the second wave, 4,211 people still lost their lives. And as in the first wave, most people who died had lived in eldercare homes.
Almost three-quarters of all deaths have occurred in those aged 80 and older. Among people in this demographic, more than 90 per cent had at least two pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes.
Additionally on Sunday, Quebec reported 1,081 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic to 270,058.