As Montreal public health officials roll out their plans to increase testing in districts with high rates of COVID-19 infection, Premier François Legault is urging residents of those districts to go get tested.
The province is aiming to conduct 14,000 tests per day, but by late last week, the most it had managed on any one day was 11,000, said Quebec's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda. He said one reason Quebec is missing its target is because fewer people are seeking out tests than anticipated.
"There are many factors at play," Arruda said. "People have to come get tested."
Arruda said increased testing will target Montréal-Nord, Rivière-des-Prairies, Montreal East and Mercier—Hochelaga–Maisonneuve.
Montréal-Nord remains the borough hardest hit by COVID-19, with 1,820 confirmed cases and 140 deaths as of May 11.
Mobile testing clinics set up in city buses will be sent to that borough on Thursday and Friday, said the regional health agency, CIUSSS-du-Nord-de-l'île. They will operate out of the parking lot of the Garon arena, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
People will not need an appointment to be tested but must either have symptoms or have been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. It's not necessary to present a health card.
The provincial minister responsible for metropolitan Montreal, Chantal Rouleau, confirmed a temporary walk-in testing clinic at the CLSC on Lacordaire Boulevard that was set to close Monday will remain operational until the mobile screening clinics arrive.
Montréal-Nord citizens can also get tested with an appointment at a temporary testing clinic set up in the parking lot of the Rivières-des-Prairies hospital.
Probable community transmission in east end
In the east-end borough of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, the cumulative number of deaths has almost doubled in fewer than 10 days.
"This is probably linked to health-care workers, but also community transmission due to the urban density and certain social factors that make it harder to respect social distancing," Dr. Mylène Drouin, the public health director for the Montreal region, said Tuesday.
All COVID-19 hotspots in Montreal have a high proportion of health-care workers living there, she said.
On Tuesday, three mobile testing clinics were deployed to Saint-Laurent, Anjou and Verdun. The goal is to conduct 250 tests per day on each bus, but Arruda says so far they are only managing to do 100 tests daily.
"The objective is to do 3,000 tests a day," Drouin said Tuesday. The city has gone from conducting 1,000 daily tests in April to 1,900 tests per day on average in fixed screening centres, she said, adding that labs can now give results in 24 hours.
"We're going in the right direction," Drouin said.
Santé Montréal has updated its website to include detailed information on where and when to find mobile and fixed testing clinics in Montreal's hotspots.
Masks, visors, disinfectant distributed
Montréal-Nord said Friday it's co-ordinating the distribution of 40,000 single-use masks and 100 gallons of liquid disinfectant for citizens, along with 1,250 protective visors for community organizations
Anyone who wishes to donate to the borough can contact Charles Morisset at 514-243-5895 or by email at email@example.com.