'Difficult' days ahead as more than 30 nuns, 40 staffers get COVID-19 at Quebec City convent

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Public health authorities in Quebec City are scrambling to stop a major outbreak at a Quebec City convent from spreading further, as 39 nuns and 43 staffers at the Soeurs de la Charité congregation have already tested positive for COVID-19.

A group of nurses, patient attendants, and license practical nurses were deployed to the convent on Wednesday to provide assistance, and are still working on site.

A total of about 300 nuns live in the building located in the Quebec City suburb of Beauport.

"The coming days will be difficult for the congregation and its employees, and our priority is the well-being of the nuns who are going through difficult moments," said Jean M. Gagné in a statement issued Friday evening by the company that manages the building, Corporation de Services Mallet.

Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, the archbishop of Quebec, offered prayers and support to those affected.

"We ask the Lord to bless them so that they may go through this difficulty with hope and with courage," said Cardinal Lacroix in a video statement released Saturday.

Marguerite Blais, the provincial seniors' minister, also issued a statement, calling the situation "worrisome" while expressing confidence in what public health workers are doing to limit the spread the virus within the convent.

Members of three other religious orders live in the same convent, including the Sisters of the Visitation and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa.