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Regional update: 8 new cases, including four IGA employees

Lyndsay Alyssa Benwell

CARLETON: – The number of people infected with COVID-19 rose from 103 to 111 on April 17 in the Gaspé Peninsula and Magdalen Islands. The new cases include four IGA grocery store employees.

The Paspebiac IGA was closed at 2 p.m. today, under police surveillance. A company specializing in industrial cleaning is disinfecting the store, so that it can reopen on Saturday, April 18 at 8 a.m. The closure of the New Richmond supermarket occurred a few hours later and its reopening is also scheduled for 8 a.m., Saturday morning. Both grocery stores are owned by the same individuals.

The co-owner of the supermarkets, Nancy Arbour, indicated on Facebook that despite strict measures adopted at the beginning of the pandemic, “three of our employees (…) and myself were unfortunately infected (according to tests from the Public Health on April 17). Without waiting, we immediately put ourselves in isolation for a period of 14 days, as recommended by the Public Health.”

Both grocery stores are located about 50 kilometres apart. The New Richmond supermarket was also closed because at least one of the infected employees worked in both stores recently.

As of early evening April 17, Dr. Yv Bonnier-Viger, director of the Gaspé Peninsula and Magdalen Islands Public Health Board, did not know exactly how many people were quarantined for preventive purposes after having worked alongside their four infected colleagues.

“Our investigation is ongoing,” he stressed, before adding that “the risk (that customers came close to the four infected employees) is very low but it exists.” He is therefore asking anyone who went to the Paspebiac IGA between April 1 and the 16, or the New Richmond IGA between April 9 and the 17 “to pay attention to symptoms such as a cough, fever, respiratory problems and a sudden loss of smell.”

Anyone experiencing those symptoms are asked to call 1-877-644-4545 and then go to one of the hospitals in the region to be tested for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, there were four other cases of COVID-19 reported in the region today. Two of the new cases stem from the Manoir du Havre outbreak, which brings the total tied to that outbreak to 66. A health worker employed by an unidentified institution was also infected. The fourth individual reported in today’s numbers, is a resident of the Residence Saint Joseph in Maria and is now hospitalized in intensive care in Rimouski.