Montreal North implementing new measures to stem spread of COVID-19

As Quebec talks about certain aspects of life returning to normal — with the gradual reopening of primary schools and certain sectors of the economy, as well as a loosening of certain travel restrictions between regions — things are far from normal in certain parts of Montreal.

On Tuesday, regional public health director for Montreal, Dr. Mylène Drouin, said certain neighbourhoods and boroughs — comprising the northeastern parts of the island — were dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, including Rivière-des-Prairies, Saint-Michel and Montreal North.

As of Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montreal was at 12,487. Montreal North, with 1,153 cases, has the highest rate per 100,000 residents anywhere in Montreal.

With a large number of people living Montreal North work in health care, including at long-term care homes ravaged by the pandemic, local MNA Paule Robitaille said she isn’t surprised by the numbers.

“A quarter of the health workers live in Montreal North so it only makes sense,” Robitaille said.

Drouin indicated on Tuesday that a high proportion of health-care workers in Montreal North were indeed affected.

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“Twenty-three per cent of cases are health-care workers,” Drouin said, “and we see in other neighbourhoods it is quite less at 15 per cent.”

While the majority of cases are linked to long-term care homes and seniors’ residences, Drouin also mentioned outbreaks of COVID-19 in certain Montreal North workplaces, but didn’t specify which.

A trio of opposition MNAs issued a warning on Wednesday about rushing ahead.

“It’s fine to talk about reopening schools, businesses when you have a certain level of stability in the numbers but here in Montreal east, we’re seeing that there is an increase,” said Liberal MNA for Lafontaine Marc Tanguay.

The MNAs are calling for more extensive testing for COVID-19.

“We are not testing enough,” Tanguay said.

“We need to isolate the people who need to be isolated and we can only do that if we know what’s going on,” explained Robitaille.

Drouin said on Tuesday, increased testing was part of the plan being developed by public health for areas like Montreal North.

Meanwhile, the borough of Montreal North announced additional measures to help deal with the current outbreak.

The new measures include the purchase and distribution of thousands of face-coverings — both disposable and re-usable — as well as information campaigns aimed at promoting social distancing and other safe behaviours.

Specific prevention campaigns will target businesses to ensure safe workplaces, while others will target landlords, caretakers and tenants of rental buildings. Some will also be directed to the general population.

The borough is also working directly with public health to intervene quickly and put in place an action plan to stem the spread of COVID-19 especially in regards to increasing access to screening and the development of more targeted population sampling.

— With files from Global’s Dan Spector. 

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