Lifting COVID-19 restrictions too soon could endanger vulnerable communities: officials

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Federal officials stressed the dangers to long-term care residents and Indigenous communities if COVID-19 restrictions are lifted too quickly after projections in Quebec painted a dire picture of the potential cost.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday he is “very worried” about residents of Montreal, the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, where the province is preparing to loosen confinement measures despite a rash of fatal outbreaks at nursing homes.

“We must make sure that we are ensuring protection of our older citizens as an absolute priority,” Trudeau told reporters.

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“I understand the economic pressures we’re all under and I understand people do want to go outside. But we need to do it in ways that we are sure are going to keep people safe, because the last thing that people want is a few weeks from now (is) being told, ‘OK, we loosened the rules and now COVID’s spreading again and you’re all going to have go inside for the rest of the summer.”’

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The comments came less than 24 hours after Quebec’s public health institute said deaths could soar to 150 a day in the greater Montreal area if physical distancing measures are lifted.

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