Quebec reports 896 new COVID-19 cases as staff member at LTC home tests positive

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MONTREAL — A staff member at a private long-term care home in suburban Montreal where dozens of residents died during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has tested positive for the disease, the local health agency said Sunday as Quebec reported its highest single-day total of COVID-19 cases since May.

Helene Bergeron-Gamache, a spokeswoman for the CIUSSS-Ouest-de-l'Ile-de-Montreal, said the agency was informed Saturday morning that a staff member at Residence Herron tested positive for COVID-19.

Eleven residents who had been in contact with that person have been tested for COVID-19 and are now self-isolating in their rooms, Bergeron-Gamache said in an email.

Three other staff members who were in contact with the infected person have also been tested and are in self-isolation as they wait for their test results, she said.

Thirty-eight people died at Residence Herron between March 26 and April 16, according to a Quebec government report released Wednesday.

The report detailed the chaos that followed the discovery of the first case at the facility on March 26, and its devastating effects on a residence described as ill-prepared to confront a pandemic.

In late March, regional health authorities found only three employees on site to care for 133 residents, some of whom were wearing overflowing diapers and suffering from dehydration.

Quebec reported 896 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the province's highest single-day tally in months, and Health Minister Christian Dube said the increase in cases is primarily due to community transmission.

"We're asking to limit contacts over the next weeks," Dube wrote on Twitter after the number was announced.

Health officials also reported four additional deaths attributed to the coronavirus: two in the past 24 hours, and two that took place between Sept. 20-25.

The province has now recorded a total of 71,901 COVID-19 cases and 5,825 deaths.

Another COVID-19 outbreak was reported this weekend at a long-term care home in Laval, Que., north of Montreal.

Judith Goudreau, a spokeswoman for the local health agency CISSS Laval, said Sunday that 11 residents and seven staff members at Centre d'hebergement Idola-Saint-Jean had tested positive.

Goudreau said the residents who tested positive have been moved into a "red zone" on the ground floor of the facility, which has a capacity of 25 beds.

Visits to the facility have been suspended, Goudreau said in an email, and all employees and residents will be tested for COVID-19.

Quebec authorities also said Sunday that hospitalizations went down by one over the past 24 hours for a total of 216.

Of those, 41 people are in intensive care — a drop of four from the previous day.

Officials said 27,380 COVID-19 tests were conducted on Sept. 25, the last date for which the testing data is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2020.

—with files from Morgan Lowrie.

Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Sunday was a six-month one-day high for new cases.