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Quebec police investigate seniors' home after 31 deaths

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Montreal (AFP)

Quebec authorities are investigating a seniors' home where 31 people have died since March 13, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced Saturday, calling the situation "appalling".

"I find it unacceptable the way we treat our seniors in Quebec," said a visibly moved Legault during a press conference, saying he feared "gross negligence" at the private residence.

The care home, called the Herron and located in the Montreal suburb of Dorval, has 150 residents.

Of the 31 deaths, at least five are due to coronavirus but the cause for the 26 others is still unknown, Legault said.

The first resident was taken to hospital on March 26. There he tested positive for coronavirus and died.

Three days later health officials went to the residence. There they found "serious problems" and that "a good number of the staff had left the center," Legault said, noting that authorities had sent staff to care for the residents.

Legault said there was "no co-operation" from the facility's management, and it was only on Friday night that health services were able to access the residents' files and find out how many deaths had occurred.

"I want to tell Quebecers that what happened at the Herron residence was appalling," he said.

"We will start by managing the crisis, but when it is under control I want us to review all our practices in seniors' residences. We owe it to our seniors to treat them with dignity."

On Saturday, there were 12,292 cases of coronavirus in the province of Quebec and 289 deaths, 48 more than the day before.

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