Quebec is reporting 8,231 COVID-19 cases on Monday and 10 more deaths attributable to the virus.
However, health authorities warn that with the introduction of rapid testing kits in the community on Dec. 20, the number of confirmed cases reported may not reflect the situation on the ground and could be higher.
In a bid to limit the spread of the virus, driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, the government has continued to tighten restrictions, capping private gatherings to six people or two-family bubbles as of Boxing Day.
Between Dec. 22 and Dec. 26, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 141, Dubé wrote on Twitter.
Quebec’s public health institute is reporting 614 pandemic-related hospitalizations, including 109 patients in intensive care.
Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist, epidemiologist and associate professor at McGill University agrees with Dubé over the need to reduce contacts.
“The only way we can control this in the short term is by having people stay home and cut their contacts,” he said. “In the long term, vaccines and getting people their boosters are clearly going to be effective.”
While more data is needed to determine the severity of the illness produced by the Omicron variant, Labos said hospitalizations will continue to increase.
“Even if it is less severe, what we have to keep in mind is that if it is spreading more widely and affecting more people, yes, the percentage of hospitalizations might be down, but the total number of hospitalizations will be up,” he said.
Both Labos and ICU doctor, Joseph Dahine, worry about the impact on an already fragile health-care network.
“We have to brace for impact,” Dahine said, explaining that an increase in COVID-19 patients who need immediate care means surgeries and other diagnostic procedures might get delayed or cancelled.
“There’s a lot of secondary consequences to an increase in hospitalizations and an increase in cases,” added Labos.
Both doctors warned hospitalizations will likely continue to increase due to a delay between when a person is infected and when they get sick, so the record-breaking case numbers in the province have yet to translate into hospitalizations.
Meanwhile, Quebecers aged 60 and over can book an appointment on the Clic Santé website for a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Premier François Legault, who is 64, received his third dose at a Montreal vaccine clinic Monday afternoon.
He told reporters he was happy to get his booster shot.
“It’s important because with the third dose, protection goes from 30 per cent to 75 per cent against the Omicron variant,” Legault said in French.
He also stressed the importance of reducing contacts over the holidays.
“Of course you have to be careful in the next few weeks, including for the New Year,” Legault said. “We have to protect our hospitals.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Quebec has recorded 546,437 infections, 472,692 recoveries and 11,677 deaths.
—With a file from The Canadian Press