valérie plante Montreal COVID-19

A new use for the old Royal Victoria Hospital

Montreal COVID-19 update

The latest on local hospitals, hotels, school closures, areas of exposure, new financial aid for the arts sector and more.

UPDATED, 10:15 a.m., March 21, 2020: Though there was speculation yesterday that a total Montreal shutdown would be announced, Friday afternoon’s press conferences by Premier François Legault and Mayor Valérie Plante served to reassure and update the public about efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legault stated that the work of health officials, frontline medical staff and the public are working so far, despite the increase in the number of Coronavirus patients. As of 9:41 p.m. on Friday, there were 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Quebec (31 of them in Montreal); 10 of these people are in hospital and six of those are in intensive care. Up to 2,400 Quebecers are awaiting test results. One person has died and one has recovered.

Premier François Legault on today’s COVID-19 update

When asked whether schools were likely to reopen on March 30 as tentatively planned, Legault said that primary and secondary schools will likely remain closed through April. Efforts will be made by CEGEPs and universities to allow students to complete the semester online.

Legault also said that hotels located near hospitals are being asked to clear their rooms just in case the space is needed for patients who don’t have COVID-19. This would free up hospital beds for COVID-19 patients who need more care.

The province is also looking into implementing an online questionnaire that would serve as a triage tool. Since 811 and other COVID-19 hotlines are often busy, Quebecers with symptoms could find peace of mind, or take action to get tested. At the moment, a free online questionnaire called Empego has been established by Quebec pharmacist and tech entrepreneur Philippe Chartrand.

Montreal: new aid for the most vulnerable

valérie plante Montreal COVID-19
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante

The city of Montreal announced that $5-million in emergency assistance will be made available for non-profit organizations, creative and cultural industries, tourism and local commerce. An additional $1-million is being offered by the city for “innovative local initiatives that will leverage business support… such as local businesses that come together to deliver.” More details are to come.

Valérie Plante also announced a number of measures to help the homeless and those who depend on food banks. As stated earlier this week, city employees will be volunteering at Moisson Montréal beginning on Monday.

Some homeless Montrealers and their pets who’ve been residing in the old Royal Victoria Hospital are being shifted to other shelters to make space for homeless Montrealers who are being tested for COVID-19, or have become infected with the virus (but don’t require actual hospitalization).

Côte-St-Luc and NDG

After a resident at le King David assisted-living complex and several members of the Congregation Beth Chabad tested positive for COVID-19, the city of Côte St-Luc is stressing the importance of abiding by official COVID-19 guidelines. The city’s website urged its citizens, many of whom are elderly, to cough into the elbow, wash hands thoroughly and frequently and, most importantly, practice social distancing — all Quebecers over 70 are urged to stay inside. The King David resident was transported to the Jewish General Hospital for testing on March 17. Quebec health authorities are investigating the individual’s activities in and outside the building.

After a staff member at the Sainte-Justine Children’s Hospital tested positive for COVID-19, an internal investigation is retracing patients and other hospital staff who came into direct contact with the employee. A drive-thru screening service is now being offered for patients and other minors who’ve returned from a trip and are exhibiting symptoms. Appointments can be made through the government’s 811 line.

Sites of exposure

According to the Quebec government website, someone infected with Coronavirus was in the children’s section of the NDG public library (3755 Botrel) on March 11 between 4:30 and 6 p.m.

An infected person rode the 24 bus between Notre-Dame hospital and the Museum of Fine Arts on March 12 (10:30 to 10:50 a.m.); another COVID-19 case ate at Aunja Restaurant on March 12 from 12:25 to 1:05 p.m. on March 12. Anyone who may have shared space with these people are being asked to watch for COVID-19 symptoms (fever, coughing, trouble breathing) until March 25/26.

More news today

444 Montrealers and other Canadians who were stranded in Morocco are arriving in Montreal on a chartered Air Canada flight.

A McGill student with COVID-19 — but no fever — is encouraging other students and young people to monitor cold symptoms closely.

A woman with COVID-19 in Quebec City was arrested last night for failure to remain in quarantine.

COVID-19 has been reported in the Eastern Townships towns of Granby and Bromont; officials are warning of community spread in these areas.

After Concordia University served their students in residence with an eviction notice on Wednesday, Université de Montréal announced Thursday that their residence would close on Monday. ■

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