Quebec says it will no longer release daily updates on COVID-19 deaths, new cases
By Giuseppe Valiante
MONTREAL — Quebec reported a jump in new COVID-19 cases Thursday on what health officials say will be the final day they release daily data on the pandemic.
The 142 new cases is almost triple the number from Wednesday in the province that accounts for more than half the total COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country.
Health Department spokeswoman Marie-Claude Lacasse said Quebec is switching to weekly updates to be issued every Thursday because the epidemiological situation is stabilizing.
The department “will continue to follow the situation closely and will adjust its reporting strategy as needed,” she wrote in an email.
New health minister named
The decision to end the daily updates — announced quietly Wednesday on a provincial holiday — comes after Premier Francois Legault named a new health minister, Christian Dube, on Monday.
Dube replaced Danielle McCann, who led the department through the COVID-19 crisis. The disease has devastated the province’s long-term care homes, where roughly 64 per cent of Quebec’s 5,448 deaths attributed to the virus occurred.
There were seven additional deaths reported by the province Thursday, six that occurred in the previous 24 hours and one that occurred before June 17.
Alexandre Lahaie, a spokesman for Dube, said in an email Thursday the change in reporting originated with the Health Department and not the new minister.
PM urges transparency
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal health authorities were cautious in their assessment of Quebec’s decision to end daily updates.
Trudeau told reporters “every province makes its own decisions about how transparent it needs to be,” but he noted that Quebec still has “a significant number of cases every day, significant number of deaths, unfortunately, every single day.”
He added: “I certainly hope that Premier Legault will continue to be transparent with Quebecers and indeed with all Canadians as he has been from the very beginning.”
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, told reporters Thursday that provinces should be regularly warning people to continue to follow health directives, such as regular hand-washing and physical distancing.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu echoed Njoo’s statement, adding that what’s most important is for provincial health authorities to rapidly share COVID-19 data with Ottawa.
“It’s important for Canadians not to think this is over in any sense of the word,” she said. “Although we are out of the surge that we saw in March, we are putting out localized fires …. We still have an important role to play no matter where we live to make sure those fires don’t reignite.”
Thursday’s 142 new cases in Quebec were a spike from Wednesday, when the province announced just 53 cases. Quebec now has a total of 55,079 cases, including 23,786 that are considered recovered.