Quebec is ramping up efforts to crack down on people flouting public health measures as the novel coronavirus pandemic persists in the province.
Premier François Legault announced Wednesday that he has asked police forces to hand out more fines to those who don’t respect the rules in place, such as a ban on multi-household gatherings in designated red zones.
“We cannot allow a minority of people to put the majority at risk,” he told reporters in Quebec City, adding that tickets can go up to $6,000.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said “the period of warnings is over” in the province. The public is being asked to reduce their contacts as Quebec grapples with a spike in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations.
The province reported 1,728 new cases and 37 additional deaths Wednesday. Health authorities say of those deaths, seven occurred in the past 24 hours, while the others were retroactively added to the death toll.
Hospitalizations linked to the virus rose again. The number of patients in hospitals across the province increased by nine to 844. Of them, there are 121 people in intensive care units, seven more than the previous day.
Legault said the number of hospitalizations is too high, putting pressure on health-care workers who have been on the front lines of the pandemic for months.
As the holiday season looms, Legault reiterated his call on employers to allow workers to work from home to stem the tide of COVID-19.
The premier also warned again that he is not against rolling out tighter measures if necessary if the second wave continues to evolve.
“We exclude nothing,” Legault said. “We really have to break the wave.”
Quebec’s caseload, which remains the highest in Canada, stands at 156,468, while recoveries have topped 133,000.
Since March, the health crisis has claimed the lives of 7,349 Quebecers. However, a death previously attributed to the virus has been withdrawn from the toll after authorities determined it was not due to the illness.
The province gave 30,024 tests Monday, the latest day for which that information is available. There have been more than 4.1 million tests to date.
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