COVID-19 continues to ravage Quebec seniors’ homes as deaths hit 877


MONTREAL — COVID-19 continued its cruel march through Quebec’s long-term care homes on Sunday, as the province raised its death toll by 72 and the Canadian Armed Forces prepared to step in to lend a hand.

Close to 60 per cent of the province’s 877 deaths have now been linked to the province’s long-term care homes, provincial data showed. That number sat at about 50 per cent early last week.

There are at least five homes dealing with outbreaks of over 100 cases, including a long-term care home in Laval, north of Montreal, which counted 152 cases and 42 deaths as of Saturday.

The province’s five-page list of affected seniors’ and care homes includes over 40 residences with more than 25 per cent of their residents affected.

Those include several with over half their residents infected, included the Fernand Larocque long-term care home in Laval, which reported that 80 per cent of its residents, or 65 people, had tested positive.

For a second straight day, members of the Canadian Armed Forces visited long-term care homes in the Montreal area as they prepared to deploy teams of personnel with medical training to help.

A team continued reconnaissance efforts at a care home in Laval and another on Montreal’s South Shore, which houses seniors who have lost physical and cognitive autonomy, a spokesman confirmed.

A spokeswoman said personnel would begin to assist in centres in the coming days, as soon as military and civilian authorities decide where they are most needed.

While Premier Francois Legault did not deliver an update over the weekend, he has requested that any Quebecers with medical training, including retired nurses, orderlies and specialist doctors, sign up to lend a hand in the centres, which have long been plagued with low salaries and staffing issues that have been made worse by the pandemic.

The government reported 836 more cases on Sunday, for a total of 18,357.

There was some bright news on the hospitalization front, as the number of people in intensive care dropped for a fifth straight day to 183.

The number of hospitalizations initially appeared to drop as well. However the province later revised its numbers from the day before to reflect that the number of people in hospital rose by 22 from Saturday to Sunday to just over 1,100.

At least 3,555 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Among the dead was well-known artist and TV personality Claude Lafortune, who died of COVID-19 related pneumonia in hospital, his family reported Sunday. He was 83.

Born in Montreal in 1936, Lafortune taught art before entering the world of youth television, where he hosted shows for several years before returning to focus on his art, which he continued to create until shortly before his death.

His son, Francois, said his father’s art celebrated humanity above everything else.

“He used paper, a material he said was simple,” he said. “It also wanted to show all the fragility of life.”