Quebec has 24,982 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,599 people have died. Of the 84 new deaths, 79 were in CHSLDs. There are 1,541 people in hospital, including 210 in intensive care. Here’s a guide to the numbers. Children will be able to go to daycare and elementary school as of May 11 in most of the province, and a week later in the Montreal area. Dr. Horacio Arruda says Quebec will ramp up testing to 15,000 a day, but province only receiving 30-minute tests by end of May.
Quebec is set to lay out its plan to restart the economy this afternoon, a day after announcing its timeline for reopening schools in the province.
Finance Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon will be joining the premier and health officials at their daily 1 p.m. briefing to announce which businesses will be allowed to reopen first and what measures they will be asked to take.
The process is expected to begin in May and take place over the course of several phases.
Most schools and daycares will reopen May 11, except for those in the Montreal area because of how many positive COVID-19 cases have been reported in the region.
In the Montreal area, the reopening date is May 19.
Parents will have the choice to send their kids back or not and those with health problems are being told not to go back right away.
“This decision to go back to school is a necessary one for education,” Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said, citing mental health reasons, access to food and the importance of continued learning for students with difficulties.
All other schools — high schools, colleges and universities — won’t physically reopen until late August. But it’s legally mandatory for teens up to 16 years of age to be in school in Quebec.
Testing key to deconfinement, but will Quebec have enough in time?
Epidemiologists say testing is the key to controlling the virus’s spread as restrictions are removed.
Public Health Director Horacio Arruda said Quebec is capable of increasing its testing rate to up to 15,000 per day, but it’s unclear if the province has the capacity to do so yet.
Quebec, like many jurisdictions, has faced shortages of the chemical reagents needed for testing, while thousands of testing swabs arrived in Quebec potentially contaminated.
On Friday, the Health Ministry said the availability of swabs was “a major challenge,” but on Monday, Legault said the province had 109,000 swabs in inventory.
The Quebec government has ordered 100 rapid testing devices and 200,000 test kits from Spartan, an Ontario company. But the tests are only expected to arrive at the end of May, by which time most children will have returned to school.
“Time is very crucial in the control of an epidemic where the capacity of the virus to spread is very high,” said Dr. Nima Machouf, an epidemiologist and instructor in the school of public health at Université de Montréal.
“The capacity of each infected person to spread the virus to other people is much higher than what we thought at the beginning.”