Quebec’s novel coronavirus caseload stands at 154,740 after the province reported 1,564 new infections Tuesday.
There are 36 additional deaths, including 12 that occurred in the past 24 hours. Since March, 7,313 Quebecers have died as a result of the pandemic.
Hospitalizations linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, are on the rise again. There are 835 patients in hospital, an increase of 17. Of them, 114 are being treated in intensive care units — nine more than the previous day.
Health Minister Christian Dubé reiterated his call for Quebecers not to be complacent with the arrival of a vaccine in the coming days, saying now is not the time to slack on following public health guidelines.
“We must continue to limit our contacts,” he wrote on social media. “The virus is still here for several months.”
The latest screening data shows 25,008 tests were administered Sunday. To date, Quebec has topped 4.1 million tests.
The province has recorded more than 132,000 recoveries so far.
As the second wave of the pandemic gains steam, Quebec’s premier says he is not ruling out tighter public health measures in the province to stem the tide of the virus.
François Legault told reporters Tuesday that the government is keeping a close eye on the evolving health crisis.
“Do we have to go further in constraints? We are following the evolution of the pandemic every day,” he said. “We’re talking with public health.
“We exclude nothing but no decision has been made at this moment to do more to close the economy. It’s not ruled out. We’re following the pandemic day by day.”
Since Oct. 1, Montreal and Quebec City have been under the red COVID-19 alert level with bars, restaurant dining, entertainment venues and gyms shut until at least Jan. 11. Other regions have since been added to the red zone.
Legault is urging companies to allow for work from home, noting that when the government announced its now cancelled holiday gathering plan, many companies agreed to allow for remote work between Dec. 17 and Jan 4.
Also, elementary and high schools will switch to distance learning next week as previously announced.
Last week, the province cancelled its plan to allow multi-household Christmas gatherings. There are also new restrictions for shopping malls and retail stores amid an uptick in coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations.
Yet with the numbers rising and the pressure on health-care institutions mounting, some experts are calling for a temporary lockdown over the holidays.
More than 75 health-care and economic experts signed an open letter published in Montreal’s La Presse recommending that all non-essential businesses be closed for two weeks to stem the spread of the virus.
“COVID-19 will once again be responsible for too many deaths,” the letter states. “In terms of the health-care system, resources are limited. Our healthcare system is under great strain.”
Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist, says a targeted temporary shutdown during the winter break could help Quebec bring its coronavirus numbers down — especially as winter weather sets in and people spend more time indoors.
“What better time to do a focused, two- or three-week shutdown?” he said.
—With files from The Canadian Press
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