MONTREAL — Health officials in Quebec City said they're fighting a spike in the number of infections in the region after a karaoke bar was linked to dozens of COVID-19 infections, including at three local schools.
Jacques Girard, the interim director of the regional health authority, said Wednesday an investigation indicates some of the patrons of Le Kirouac bar went to other bars while contagious, spreading the virus.
"We now have evidence that those people who were COVID-positive, who maybe hadn't had the results of their tests but who were contagious, went to other places," he said.
"It's there when our alarm signal went off."
He said the recent rise in cases in the Quebec City area has been traced back to the evening of Aug. 23 at Le Kirouac. That evening alone generated 40 cases of COVID-19.
Some of those people then went on to visit at least six other bars in the Quebec City area, Girard said. He said there hasn't yet been any evidence of further transmission at those bars, but that could change in the coming days.
Girard says those cases have led to 10 more infections among family members — including three students who returned to school.
The cases have prompted Le Kirouac to close until Sept. 9, and officials to urge the population to respect health directives, especially during alcohol-fuelled gatherings.
Girard is asking anyone in the Quebec City area who visited a bar in the last week to get tested for COVID-19.
The Quebec City region has been grappling with a spike in cases, prompting Girard to urge both bar owners and individuals to be more careful.
On Wednesday, the region reported 23 new positive cases, compared to between two and four a day the previous week.
Girard said it was imperative to avoid a "domino effect" of secondary cases and community spread.
"I think most people understand the importance of respecting the measures, but it's as if sometimes we forget the virus is still with us," he said.
The province as a whole reported 132 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as well as two additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
Hospitalizations declined by one to 109, while the number of people in intensive care remained stable at 20.
There has been a total of 62,746 COVID-19 cases and 5,764 deaths linked to the virus in the province.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2020.
--With files from Caroline Plante in Quebec City
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press