Quebec officials report first case of coronavirus variant that emerged in India

A case of a coronavirus variant that first emerged in India has been found in Quebec, the province’s Health Department said Wednesday.

It’s the first known case of the B.1.617 variant reported in the province, according to Quebec’s public health institute.

The case was detected in the Mauricie and Centre-du-Quebec region, west of Quebec City, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec said.

The news came as the province reported 1,217 new cases and six additional deaths Wednesday as the third wave of COVID-19 continues.

This includes one death in the past 24 hours, while three deaths occurred between April 14 and April 19. The two other fatalities occurred earlier in the month and were retroactively added to the tally.

The number of hospitalizations related to the new coronavirus jumped by 22 to 716. This includes 178 patients in intensive care units, a rise of one from the previous day.

Health Minister Christian Dubé wrote on Twitter that Quebecers must continue to abide by restrictions as hospital numbers remain on the upswing. It is first time since mid-February the number of pandemic-linked hospitalizations has risen above 700.

“We extended emergency measures to break the rise of hospitalizations and cases,” he said.

READ MORE: Montrealers line up bright and early for AstraZeneca vaccine after province expands access

The vaccination campaign was expanded Wednesday to offer AstraZeneca to anyone 45 and older. Authorities say 54,410 doses were administered Tuesday for more than 2.5 million shots to date.

Since the rollout began in December, the province has received 3,066,969 doses of the vaccine. The government says the more than 230,000 doses of Pfizer that were expected this week have arrived in all regions.

Quebec gave 44,311 tests Monday, the latest day for which that information is available.

The province’s caseload stands at 340,397, one of the highest tallies in the country. Meanwhile, recoveries have now topped 317,000.

The health crisis has killed 10,838 Quebecers to date, but the toll was changed Wednesday after an investigation found a previously reported death was not due to the virus.

With files from The Canadian Press’ Jacob Serebrin

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