Quebec premier says no plans to ease COVID-19 rules for now

Click to play video: 'Quebec premier insists now is not the time to lift COVID-19 restrictions'
Quebec premier insists now is not the time to lift COVID-19 restrictions
WATCH: Quebec will not be easing COVID-19 restrictions for the immediate future. Premier François Legault says lives are still at stake. Meanwhile, Ontario has announced it will start re-opening businesses by the end of the month. As Raquel Fletcher reports, two neighbouring provinces unveiled two very different plans on the same day. – Jan 20, 2022

Quebec is starting to “see the light at the end of the tunnel” but the government will not lift more restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 for now, the premier said Thursday.

François Legault says the province is dealing with 3,400 hospitalizations and that it appears to be the peak. The province reported its first drop in the number of patients being treated for the disease since mid-December, with 14 fewer than the previous day.

“The situation remains very difficult at the moment,” he said.

Click to play video: 'No new restrictions for Quebec as COVID-19 hospitalizations stabilize, Legault says'
No new restrictions for Quebec as COVID-19 hospitalizations stabilize, Legault says

Pandemic-related hospitalizations remain too high and there is a labour shortage of nearly 12,000 employees in the health-care network right now, Legault added.

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“We are currently at the limit in our hospitals,” he told reporters.

Legault said the good news is that if the number of patients stays at the current level, a contingency plan will not have to be applied in hospitals. That plan includes keeping workers infected or exposed to COVID-19 on the job and finding ways to discharges patients sooner.

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Given the situation, Legault said public health officials have advised against easing more sanitary measures. Quebec tightened rules last month as infections quickly started to climb, including banning private gatherings and shuttering bars and dining rooms.

The province lifted its nightly curfew and schools reopened earlier this week, and the premier admitted he is feeling the pressure to loosen more rules. He urged Quebecers to be patient.

“I understand we are all tired but lives are at stake,” he said.

Hospitalizations expected to fall slightly

Hospitals should continue to see pressure ease in the coming weeks, according to the latest projections from a Quebec government health-care research institute.

The Institut national d’excellence en sante et en services sociaux (INESSS) said Thursday it expected around 200 new admissions a day by the end of January. Over the last week, Quebec has been seeing between 296 and 470 new pandemic-related hospitalizations per day.

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The overall number of people in hospital outside of intensive care is expected to drop slightly over the next two weeks, to around 3,000 people, the institute said in a new statement.

Meanwhile, INESSS also expects the number of people in intensive care units across Quebec to “stabilize” at around 300 people.

However, the institute notes its modelling can’t predict sudden changes in trends and its projections “do not take into account recent changes to the health measures and the effects of the return to school.”

with files from The Canadian Press

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