Quebec reported a record-breaking COVID-19 case count with 5,043 new infections — the highest single-day total reported Canada-wide since the pandemic began.
Ontario held the previous record with 4,812 new cases recorded in mid-April.
In a news release Tuesday, Quebec’s public health institute said it believes the Omicron variant has taken over Delta as the dominant variant in the province, just three weeks after the first case was detected on Nov. 29.
A new screening strategy put in place with four labs to test positive cases from various hospitals indicates that eight out of 10 infections can be attributed to Omicron.
Quebec also recorded eight more deaths linked to the virus on Tuesday. It also reported 415 hospitalizations, with 59 new entries and 41 new discharges. Of those hospitalized, there are 88 people in intensive care, for an increase of 6 compared to the previous day.
Since the start of the pandemic Quebec has reported 495,337 cases and 11,650 deaths.
On Monday, provincial health authorities announced new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. The province shut down bars, cinemas, concert halls, gyms and spas, along with in-person learning at schools, as of 5 p.m. on Monday.
Restaurants, which began operating at half capacity on Monday, can stay open between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., the province said. Sports performances, whether amateur of professional, will be held without spectators. Schools are set to return to in-person classes scheduled for Jan. 10, 2022, while remote working was made mandatory.
In Monday’s update, Health Minister Christian Dubé said the province had already reached half of its COVID-19 bed capacity in hospitals. He said it wasn’t so much about the number of COVID-19 patients but the staff required to treat them.
“What we want to avoid is delaying emergency care, surgeries,” Dubé said Monday.
He also said vaccination continues to be crucial for getting the province out of this situation.
Dubé said 315,000 people made an appointment to get vaccinated on Monday, and more than 73,000 received a dose, including 64,000 booster shots.
On Tuesday evening, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault wrote on Twitter that the Omicron variant was a threat to the province’s hospital capacity.
She confirmed Quebec had asked the federal government for the assistance of the Canadian Armed Forces and resources from other organizations to help speed up mass vaccination efforts.
Earlier in the day, Quebec Premier François Legault hinted more restrictions could be coming down on Wednesday.
“Like in many places in the world, Quebec is faced with very difficult choices,” he wrote in French.
He added they “we will come back to you tomorrow with our decisions” on how to handle the increase in people getting sick and hospitalizations.
— With files from Karla Renic and The Canadian Press.