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Canada's hardest-hit province for COVID-19 launches plan to combat second wave

FILE PHOTO: Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) medical personnel arrive at Villa Val des Arbres, a seniors' long-term care centre, to help amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Montreal, Quebec, Canada April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Quebec on Tuesday announced plans to tackle earlier mistakes in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, while preparing its health sector against a possible second wave of coronavirus in the autumn.

Quebec, once the country’s hardest-hit province for COVID-19, will boost public health sector hiring, reduce screening delays, and ensure staff like orderlies can no longer work at multiple long-term care facilities, a practice previously blamed for spreading the virus, Health Minister Christian Dubé told reporters.

Canada has flattened its curve of coronavirus cases since the spring, but some of the country’s 10 provinces have reported higher numbers of COVID-19 infections recently, as the economy restarts and restrictions on social gathering are relaxed.

Schools across Canada will be reopening in autumn.

Quebec accounts for about half of Canada’s 122,872 total coronavirus cases and more than half of its 9,032 deaths. But the once hard-hit province only reported 46 new cases and two deaths in the last 24 hours, according to government data.

“We have done an appraisal of this first wave so we can now establish the solution to be implemented in view of a potential second wave,” Dubé said.

There will no longer be movement of workers, other than nurses under certain conditions, between seniors’ homes, where most of the province’s 5,727 COVID-19 deaths took place.

Under the plan, Quebec will also invest C$106 million ($80.58 million) in public health to allow for the hiring of 1,000 workers to do contact tracing and infection control.

Reporting By Allison Lampert; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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