Quebec is reporting 1,535 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and five more virus-related deaths.
Two of those deaths happened in the last 24 hours. Hospitalizations rose by 25 to 608, and 139 people are in intensive care — an increase of one.
Health Minister Christian Dubé tweeted that the numbers are concerning given that 58 per cent of new cases involve people under 40-years-old.
This comes as Premier François Legault announced on Thursday that restrictions are being tightened in Montreal and Laval with the reinstatement of the 8 p.m. curfew as of Sunday. It will be maintained until further notice.
He said the nightly curfew in the two cities will be rolled back by 90 minutes as a preventive measure amid the rising COVID-19 infections across the province.
The premier said the high population and density in both Montreal and Laval makes them much more vulnerable in terms of the spread of the virus — especially as the province grapples with the more transmissible COVID-19 variants.
Authorities say they are concerned with private gatherings in homes, but have offered only circumstantial evidence that a curfew has been successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“The level of contagion is very high and we expect it to accelerate even more,” Legault said. “If it starts to explode, it could rapidly create big problems in our hospitals.”
A nightly curfew until 5 a.m. is in effect in much of the province under red or orange alert, but starts at 9:30 p.m. in some regions.
The stricter 8 p.m. curfew is also in effect in Quebec City, Lévis, Gatineau and several municipalities in the Beauce region, where schools and non-essential businesses are also closed until at least April 18 due to rising cases.
The province says it administered 59,447 doses of the vaccine on Saturday for a total of 1,890,476.
Health officials say over 21 per cent of the population in Quebec has received a first dose of the vaccine since the immunization program began.
Quebec has reported a total of 326,383 COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic and 10,742 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. Over 303,039 infected people have recovered.
–with files from the Canadian Press and Annabelle Olivier, Global News