Why do so many people get sick and die in Montreal because of Covid-19? | News from the world


Sspring in Montreal is normally a reason for celebration. After the long and arduous winters of the city, people emerge from the confines of their apartments at the first hint of heat to bask in the parks and on the patios – or terraces – and enjoy a meal, a drink and the company of friends.

Not this year.

Montreal, a city presented by tour guides as “Europe of North America” ​​for its rich culture and joie de vivre, is the Canadian center of Covid-19. Of the 70,000 cases and 5,000 deaths across the country, the city of 2 million people has 20,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths, or about 64% of the total number of deaths in the province.

These figures have catapulted Quebec into an unfavorable position: it is now the seventh deadliest place in the world for daily coronavirus deaths, according to the Quebec newspaper La Presse.

“We are all concerned about Montreal,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault said on Monday, saying the situation was “not under control.” The gradual reopening of schools and businesses could be further delayed if Montreal fails to pull itself together.

If Peter McCabe’s Empty Montreal photo project is proof of this, the city has largely obeyed orders to stay at home. His street landscapes devoid of human activity show a side of Montreal that almost no one sees. “The air is crystal clear. This is not normal, “he said.

But if people are actually staying at home, the high infection rate is not normal either. Why do so many people get sick and die here?

A suburb wearing a protective mask climbs aboard a subway train in Montreal.

A suburb wearing a protective mask boards a Montreal metro train. Photography: Canadian Press / REX / Shutterstock

The trends overwhelmingly indicate the reality that many people infected with Covid-19 are people who already suffer from systemic inequalities, poverty and discrimination – problems that existed long before the virus and are now open to everyone.

First there are the elders. A horrible story in the Montreal Gazette revealed that a local public nursing home – known by its French initials as a CHSLD – had hidden the deaths of 31 seniors. Many of them appear to have died after most employees left the establishment. Some of the elders found alive had not had water, food or a diaper change for days.

Provincial data show that about 82% of the dead lived in retirement homes – most of them public. Of a total of 2,003 dead in Montreal, 74% of them were over 80; 97% of them were over 60.

The CHSLD crisis continues. According to La Presse, at least 141 CHSLDs in Montreal currently have at least one case of Covid-19, but that the government will not say which ones. In the meantime, the Quebec government has announced that it will allow caregivers to reintegrate certain CHSLDs.


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