Quebec will make a decision early next week about whether or not to implement new restrictions as the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to gain steam.
Premier François Legault says he is concerned about the evolving situation and says the coming weeks are “critical” to limiting the spread of the virus.
“There is no decision made so far,” Legault said, referring to rolling out new rules.
Legault’s declaration come as calls grow for the government to introduce a temporary lockdown over the winter holidays. Health-care experts have come out in favour of stricter measures in order to ease the growing pressure on hospitals.
Quebec recorded 1,713 new infections and 53 deaths attributed to the COVID-19 health crisis Friday as hospitalizations also spiked once again.
There are 23 more patients in hospital for a total of 871. Of them, there are 123 patients in intensive care, an increase of 10 from the previous day.
Health Minister Christian Dubé reiterated his call for Quebecers to limit their contacts to protect others and the health network amid the surge in deaths.
“Each death is one death too many,” he wrote on social media. “The big rise in deaths is the result of the uptick in cases and patients the last few weeks.”
Quebec has seen 160,023 cases since March while recoveries have topped 136,000. So far, 7,435 people have died.
On Friday, another part of the province learned it is moving to the highest alert level as most of Quebec remains on red alert.
Rising cases in areas of the Laurentians that include the popular resort towns of Mont-Tremblant and St-Sauveur pushed them into the red zone, meaning that as of Monday bars, restaurant dining rooms, theatres and other venues will be closed and private gatherings will be forbidden.
“I understand it’s hard but you have to understand that the next weeks are critical,” Legault said.
Education Minister Jean-François Roberge has also taken to social media to say there is no imminent shutdown planned for schools and that students will be in class Monday.
— With files from The Canadian Press