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Quebec in ‘third wave’ of COVID-19 pandemic, health minister says

Click to play video: 'Quebec officially in third wave of COVID-19' Quebec officially in third wave of COVID-19
WATCH: It was not the news Quebecers wanted to hear. After months of back and forth on tightening and easing sanitary restrictions, the province has officially entered the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Global's Phil Carpenter explains, with the rise in variant infections, Quebec is trying to find a balance with what can and cannot stay open – Mar 29, 2021

Quebec’s health minister has officially declared there is a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the province as the case count continues to rise.

“We don’t have to ask ourselves if we are in a third wave,” Christian Dubé told reporters in Montreal on Monday. “We are in a third wave but what we can do is control it.”

The goal is to control variants, which are considered to be more contagious, as much and as long as possible, he added. Dubé said it is too early to know if restrictions will be tightened in the coming weeks.

The number of hospitalizations, particularly of intensive care patients, will dictate whether the government reverses its decision to ease measures, he said.

The declaration comes as older students in high schools in designated pandemic red zones, such as Montreal, return to in-person learning on a full-time basis. Dubé stressed that keeping schools open remains a priority because the health crisis has been hard on teenagers’ mental health, but that the government will make changes if necessary.

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Read more: Quebec officials say many vaccine appointments unfilled, ask seniors to act

Quebec also reopened gyms in “red” zones, such as Montreal, and permitted venues such as theatres and places of worship to welcome up to 250 people last week.

“How to find this equilibrium? It’s delicate, but if we think at one point this is too risky, don’t worry, we will adjust,” Dubé said. “We have adjusted many times in the past year.”

Quebec is reporting an additional 891 novel coronavirus cases Monday and health officials recorded five more deaths related to the pandemic, including two in the past 24 hours. The other fatalities took place earlier in the month.

Click to play video: 'Quebec health minister declares third wave of COVID-19 pandemic' Quebec health minister declares third wave of COVID-19 pandemic
Quebec health minister declares third wave of COVID-19 pandemic – Mar 29, 2021

The more contagious COVID-19 variants continued to gain steam, with presumptive cases rising by 362 to 6,480, according to the province’s public health institute.

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The total caseload now stands at 309,202 while the number of recoveries has surpassed 290,000 since the beginning of the health crisis.

The death toll, which remains the highest in Canada, has reached 10,651. The tally was changed Monday, however, after an investigation revealed a previously reported death was not due to the virus.

When it comes to hospitalizations, there are now three fewer patients in care for a total of 477. Of them, 120 are in intensive care units, a rise of six from the previous day.

In Quebec, 38,801 doses were administered Sunday. So far, 1,261,855 jabs have been given since the campaign launched last December.

The latest screening information shows that 22,121 tests were carried out Saturday.

Upwards of 300 tickets for curfew violations

Montreal police say they received more than 600 calls last week related to pandemic measures.

Over the past week, officers issued 431 tickets last week for flouting public health orders in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Of those fines, police say 319 were given to Montrealers allegedly violating curfew. The measure is in place from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. across the province.

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Places of worship open across Quebec' COVID-19: Places of worship open across Quebec
COVID-19: Places of worship open across Quebec – Mar 28, 2021

With files from The Canadian Press

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