Quebec health minister says daily increase in COVID-19 cases was ‘expected’

A woman adjusts her mask while she waits in line as the city's public health unit holds a walk-in clinic testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Montreal, March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo

Quebec is reporting 950 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and an additional seven deaths attributable to the virus.

On Thursday, the province recorded 945 cases in a daily high not seen since Feb. 12.

To date, the province has recorded a total of 306,385 infections and 288,384 recoveries.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said in a tweet on Friday that the increase in the number of daily infections was an expected development.

“What matters to us is that this increase in cases does not translate into an increase in hospitalizations, like in January,” he said, adding that he continues to monitor the situation on a daily basis.

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Overall hospitalizations decreased again on Friday for the third consecutive day, with 12 fewer patients requiring treatment in a hospital setting.

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Of the 496 patients currently being treated, 115 are in the intensive care unit — a decrease of two in the last 24 hours.

Vaccinations ramped up on Thursday with 54,951 doses administered for a total of 1,121,958 representing 13.2 per cent of the population.

When Dubé received his own shot last week, he said an average of 50,000 shots a day would be needed for the province to achieve its target of administering at least one dose to all eligible Quebecers by June 24.

Meanwhile, Quebec Premier François Legault was vaccinated against COVID-19 Friday afternoon, at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

He was among hundreds of other Quebecers who were getting their shots at the makeshift clinic.

Vaccinations in Montreal and the Côte-Nord region, remain open to those aged 60 and over, while in all other regions’ appointments are reserved for those 65 and over.

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The premier praised the process, saying it was easy and efficient.

Legault also addressed the issue of rising cases.

Like Dubé, he said it was expected and that the number of hospitalizations remains the main concern.

Legault also defended the loosening of restrictions in red zones, including the return to full-time in-person learning for high school students.

As of Friday, Montreal gyms have been allowed to reopen and places of worship with enough space are allowed to accommodate up to 250 worshippers.

“Regarding the measures, we need to have a balance,” he said. “If we want the population to follow the measures we put in place, we have to find a balance. If we’re too strong, too hard, we may lose everybody.”

Students, meanwhile head back to class next Monday. While Legault acknowledged there is a risk, he said it was one he was willing to take, saying it was “for the good of the children.”

“It’s very important to see our kids going to school every day,” he said. “It’s good for their social activities to see their friends.”

To date, the illness linked to the virus has claimed the lives of 10,637 Quebecers. Of the seven deaths reported Friday, one occurred in the last 24 hours, four are said to have happened between March 19 and March 24, and the remaining two happened before March 19.

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