A new study out of the Université de Montréal reveals that there could be many more COVID-19 cases in Quebec than what's officially reported. Economists at UdeM developed a new statistical technique that shows roughly 12 times more cases than what current screening efforts have identified. The study estimates that there were actually over 250,000 total cases in Quebec as of April 22, 2020.\nComparing the official reports from both Quebec and Ontario, the economists estimate that the disparity between the numbers of confirmed cases in the two provinces (20,965 in Quebec compared to 12,245 in Ontario as of April 22) is a result of testing standards.\n"Our results show how differences in testing standards between provinces can greatly mask the true severity of outbreak," said Joshua Lewis, an economist at UdeM who co-authored the study.\nThe economists believe that more testing is needed amongst the general population.\n"They argue that rapid diagnostic and serological testing should be expanded to the general population to prevent recurrent unobserved community transmission and identify the large numbers of individuals who may have some level of immunity to the virus," a press release states.\nDespite the differences in Quebec's and Ontario's official reports, the actual number of cases is "remarkably similar," according to Lewis.\n#COVID19 Les résultats sont frappants. Au 22 avril, selon les estimations des économistes, le nombre réel d'infections était de 256 130 au Québec (au-delà de 12 fois plus que le nombre officiel) et de 220 602 en Ontario (au-delà de 18 fois plus).https://t.co/f87ThOj4Bb— Université Montréal (@UMontreal) May 1, 2020\nHe says that it's paramount that both government officials and the public know the actual extent of COVID-19 in the general population.\nAs Quebec prepares to gradually deconfine the population, researchers say that the "true numbers" will help public health officials better evaluate the situation.\nREAD ALSO: 'Battle Is Not Won' In Montreal & Legault 'Will Not Hesitate' To Push Back Deconfinement\n"That’s what we need to get a much better picture of," Lewis writes.\n"It’s important for policymakers who have to make difficult choices about how long to impose costly social distancing measures."\nSi on regarde ce qui se passe dans la population en général, on voit que la courbe de contagion a atteint un plateau. C’est ce qui nous permet de rouvrir certaines entreprises très graduellement au cours des prochaines semaines.Voici les détails 👇 pic.twitter.com/Bxxxvvcf1F— François Legault (@francoislegault) April 28, 2020\nPremier François Legault has said that the government will proceed with deconfinement with the utmost care and observation to prevent a second wave of infections.\nTaking these results into account should factor into these upcoming decisions, say the researchers.\n"It’s also a question that’s very much on the minds of many Canadians. Every time we venture out to the supermarket or for a walk, we worry about crossing paths with someone who has the virus. The question is, should we, and to what extent?" Lewis concludes.\nStay tuned for more news.