Quebec continues to see the number of deaths and cases attributable to the novel coronavirus pandemic rise as the province plans to progressively ease restrictions starting next week.

Premier François Legault said 98 more Quebecers died on Thursday, including 92 who lived in long-term care homes. The province’s death toll stands at 1,859, accounting for more than half of the fatalities in the country.

Legault, for his part, said nursing homes — which have faced challenges in containing the virus and bolstering staff — will continue to see deaths.

“We will do everything to save the majority but we have to be realistic, but it is certain there will continue to be a lot of deaths,” he said.

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There are more than 27,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in Quebec as of Thursday. Legault said about 4,400 of them are located in long-term care facilities.

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Over the past week, Legault has maintained that the health crisis is unfolding in seniors residences but that the situation is mostly under control in the rest of society.