The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Quebec. At a press conference Wednesday, Premier François Legault confirmed 1,339 cases in the province — more than double Monday's number. Community spread of the novel coronavirus in Montreal, confirmed by public health officials on Tuesday, could complicate efforts to contain it.

"The number of reported cases" in the city "is growing rapidly," a statement from the Direction régionale de la santé publique reads.

"Several family clusters and chains of transmission have been documented. In several cases, the investigation was unable to identify a source of exposure."

"Therefore, there is a community transmission of SARS-CoV-2," the virus that causes COVID-19, in Montreal.

Community spread, defined by the American Center for Disease Control (CDC), "means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected."

As of March 25, the Montreal region (the area encompassing the metropolis and on-island suburbs) accounts for 603 of Quebec's COVID-19 cases.

In the past week, the provincial government has instituted several measures to more strictly enforce social distancing and limit the virus' spread.

All non-essential businesses in the province are now closed and public gatherings are banned.

Reports further indicate that the Montreal police (SPVM) have the power to issue fines to people who do not respect these regulations.

"The SPVM is counting on the good faith of Montrealers to follow all government directives, including those concerning social distancing," a spokesperson told MTL Blog.

The Government of Quebec has also released a self-care guide for individuals to help them protect themselves from the virus, including some hand-washing tips.

Legault has called efforts to combat the novel coronavirus perhaps "the biggest battle of our lives."

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