Quebec mulls easing coronavirus restrictions in some regions starting in February

Quebec is considering easing some of its lockdown measures for certain regions that aren’t as hard hit by the novel coronavirus crisis starting in February.

Premier François Legault said Tuesday the measures in place are helping to bring down the number of new COVID-19 cases, but that hospitalizations, despite beginning to dip, remain high — especially in Montreal.

“The situation is very different in Montreal than what we’re living in the rest of Quebec,” he told reporters.

The rules currently in place until Feb. 8 include a nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in a bid to limit the transmission of the virus. Quebec is the only province to implement such a measure during the pandemic.

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Citing new variants of the virus, Legault said he doesn’t understand why the federal government hasn’t yet implemented additional restrictions for international travel. Quebec has been demanding a ban on international flights or for travelers to have to stay in a quarantine hotel at their own expense.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that new restrictions on travel are coming and he is urging Canadians to cancel all travel plans they may have.

“I’m asking Mr. Trudeau again to act rapidly,” Legault said.

Legault’s update comes as Quebec reported 1,166 new cases and 57 additional deaths linked to the virus Tuesday.

Health authorities say four of those deaths occurred in the past 24 hours, while the others stem from earlier this month and have been retroactively added to the growing tally.

The caseload of the province, which has been a hotspot for the virus, has now reached 256,002. Meanwhile, recoveries stand at 230,803.

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Coronavirus: Quebec’s average number of COVID-19 cases dropping, says premier

The health crisis has led to the deaths of 9,577 Quebecers to date, though a death previously linked to the virus has been removed from the total following an investigation. The province’s fatalities account for nearly half of Canada’s deaths attributable to COVID-19.

The number of hospitalizations related to the pandemic rose Tuesday. There are 1,324 patients in hospital, an increase of three from the previous day. Of those patients, there are 217 in intensive care units, which remains unchanged.

Quebec’s latest data shows 19,281 tests were given Sunday. To date, more than 5.6 million tests have been administered.

Officials say they administered 5,927 doses of vaccine Monday and say they have used all but 13,221 of the doses received thus far.

With files from The Canadian Press

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