Quebec says number of new COVID-19 cases appears to be stabilizing

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Quebec’s premier and public health director struck a cautiously optimistic tone on Sunday, saying aggressive physical distancing measures appear to be working to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Horacio Arruda, the province’s director of public health, said the number of cases announced in recent days falls below what was originally projected.

“Each day now, we have less than we thought we would have,” he said, while declining to share precise numbers.

Arruda repeatedly smacked the back of his own hand to demonstrate the concept of “flattening the curve” of new infections.

“The speed with which we’re increasing is spreading out, and the more we do that, the longer we’ll take to reach the plateau,” he said.

He explained that slowing down the rate of transmission might mean that the province will take longer to reach a peak, but it would help ensure hospitals stay below capacity.

“I don’t want to choose who I’m going to keep on a respirator because I don’t have enough,” he said.

Premier Francois Legault said there were 2,840 cases of COVID-19 in the province on Sunday, which is an increase of 342 from the day before.

He noted that the percentage increase was smaller than in recent days, and that the number of people hospitalized, at 192, remains far below the capacity of 6,000.

The number of deaths remained unchanged at 22.

“We can see the daily increase in confirmed cases seems to be stabilizing,” he said. “Public health authorities tell us our efforts are paying off, so don’t give up.”

However, he said the numbers could rise again, and he urged Quebecers to remain positive.

Arruda and Legault noted that the worst-hit regions appeared to be Estrie and Montreal, and they said health authorities would increasingly need to take a regional approach to fighting COVID-19.

On Saturday, the province announced that eight regions of the province would be off limits with police checkpoints on major roads in and out of those areas as of Saturday afternoon, with travel only allowed for essential purposes.

Legault and Arruda said more measures could be targeted at specific regions or neighbourhoods that are harder hit.

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