Quebec’s premier is mulling tightening restrictions in five regions where COVID-19 cases are on the rise as the province enters the beginning of a third wave of the pandemic.
“We can’t exclude anything in the coming days,” François Legault said during a news conference Tuesday, referring to the increase in infections as a “bad trend.”
The government is particularly concerned about Gatineau. He said Quebec is working with Ontario to harmonize the restrictions in force in Outaouais and Ottawa.
Quebec City, Lac-Saint-Jean, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Beauce are also areas of concern, according to Legault. However, the situation in Montreal, which has been hard hit by the health crisis, is stable.
As a result, officials are keeping a close eye on hospitalizations — which will determine the next steps the province will take.
“The situation can change very quickly so the next few days are very critical,” Legault told reporters at the national assembly. “And the question we’re asking ourselves is do we have to add restrictions in those five zones?”
Legault is also asking Quebecers to abide by the measures in place, including curfew and not having private gatherings, in order stave off the spread of the novel coronavirus and its variants.
He said police will fan out over the long Easter weekend to ensure people are following the rules.
“I know people are excited to see each other but I repeat: think about our nurses, think about our children,” Legault said.
In Quebec, there are 864 new cases and seven more deaths Tuesday. The case count has now reached 310,066 while the health crisis has killed 10,658 Quebecers to date. Recoveries, meanwhile, have topped 291,000.
The number of hospitalizations related to the new coronavirus rose by 10 to 487. Of those patients, six more are in intensive care units for a total of 126.
The vaccination rollout saw another 42,771 doses administered. So far, the province has given out more than 1.3 million jabs, the majority of which have been first shots.
Legault explained that the province is ramping up vaccinations in areas where there has been a surge in cases in order to stem the tide of COVID-19.
Quebec has also suspended the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine for anyone 55 or under in a decision made Monday, citing potential safety concerns. While officials say the move is a precaution and could lead to schedule changes, the province is still on track to give a first dose to any adult who wants one by June 24.
Legault stressed that there have been no reported problems with the AstraZeneca doses administered in Quebec. He said he believes that the vaccine is safe for people over 55.
“The greater risk is to refuse to be vaccinated,” he said.
When it comes to screening, the latest information available shows 23,427 tests were given Sunday.
Meanwhile, Quebec’s public health institute says it has confirmed 429 additional COVID-19 cases that involve variants of concern. The institute says that there are now 1,134 confirmed cases of the more transmissible variants.
It says it has also detected 468 suspected cases of variants, bringing the total of suspected cases to 6,948. It takes at least seven days to confirm suspected cases through a sequencing test.
— With files from The Canadian Press