Quebec premier credits curfew for drop in COVID-19 cases, but warns rules will likely be extended

Quebec’s premier is crediting the nightly curfew for a decline in daily new cases of the novel coronavirus over the past 10 days, but he warns it is unlikely the province will ease its latest lockdown measures.

“As long as the number of hospitalizations stay this high that you can’t think in the next few weeks we will open everything and allow contact,” François Legault told reporters Thursday.

Legault said “everything is on the table” when it comes to extending restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, especially in the hard-hit Montreal and Laval areas.

The most recent lockdown rules, which include a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., are in effect until at least Feb. 8 in an effort to break the evolving second wave of the pandemic.

Read more: Montreal mayor disappointed with premier’s refusal to grant curfew exemption to homeless

The premier’s update comes as Quebec reported 1,624 new cases and 66 additional deaths linked to the virus Thursday.

The health crisis has led to the deaths of 9,273 Quebecers to date. The death toll, which remains the highest in the country, was adjusted after an investigation found a previous death was incorrectly attributed to the virus.

The province’s caseload has now reached 248,860, while recoveries have topped 220,000.

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 dropped by 14 to 1,453. Of those patients, the number in intensive care units remains unchanged at 216.

When it comes to screening, health authorities say 32,845 tests were carried out Tuesday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 5.5 million tests have been given.

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