At his daily COVID-19 press update, Premier François Legault, accompanied by the province's top public health officials, announced yet another increase in the number of confirmed cases in Quebec. As of Thursday, April 23, there are 21,838 cases of COVID-19 in Quebec, up 873 from the previous day. There were another 109 deaths reported, for a total of 1,243. 

93 of the new deaths come from senior residences, according to the Premier.

An additional 133 hospitalizations were also recorded, bringing the total to 1,411, including 207 people now in intensive care.  

He again underlined that Quebec is split into "two worlds" when it comes to the current state of the outbreak.

While it continues to ravage senior residences, he called the situation in much of the province "under control."

"When you look at the deaths so far, 97% of the deaths are people 60 and over. So younger people are really very low risk."

He stressed, however, that younger people shouldn't feel immune to the virus. According to public health officials, there likely won't be a vaccine against COVID-19 for "several months, perhaps one year, or two."

The government is therefore moving forward with preparation for a "gradual" reopening of schools and businesses.

Officials will present the deconfinement plan next week.

Legault assured that "there is nothing that will reopen next week. It's just going to be a calendar for the following weeks."

To even consider a return to normal, Legault said that the ideal situation would be for the population to develop a "natural immunity" to the virus.

The senior care system, meanwhile, is still missing 9,500 people from the workforce. 

He acknowledged that it's a difficult situation and hopes that health care workers will be inspired to help out in any way they can.

"I want to make an appeal today to those people there, who are at home, in some cases, completing a 14-day period after being infected: we need you. We need you."

"We all have personal protective equipment, and then there are clear directives that are sent everywhere so that you do not take any chances, any risk to your safety. So I'm asking you now. We need your help. The network cannot function with 9,500 people absent."

The government has extended the 4% and 8% health care salary bonus from April 30 to May 31. 

Stay tuned for more news.

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