MONTREAL -- COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place in Quebec’s red zones for at least two more weeks, Premier Francois Legault announced Tuesday.

In an afternoon news conference alongside Health Minister Christian Dube and public health director Horacio Arruda, Legault said that though the number of new cases of coronavirus had stabilized, the province had seen an increase in recent days. Lockdown measures will continue through Nov. 23, he confirmed.

"I understand that this situation is difficult for a lot of people, but our measures are necessary to save lives, to keep our children in school, to keep our workers at work and to save our health system. It also gives us a chance to see our friends and family at Christmas," he said.

Quebec health authorities reported 1,162 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the province since the start of the pandemic to 117,151. Of them, 10,937 are active.

Quebec's seven-day rolling average now stands at about 1,180 cases per day.

The province is also reporting another 38 deaths linked to the disease, including nine from the past 24 hours, 27 from between Nov. 3 and Nov. 8, one from before Nov. 3 and one from an unknown date, for a total of 6,493. 

Health officials have seen a significant increase in the number of cases of infections in five regions, where the situation was described as ‘worrying.’

These regions are:

  • Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean
  • Lanaudière (especially around Joliette)
  • Mauricie
  • Centre-du-Québec
  • Gaspésie

Montreal is reporting a large portion of the province's new cases, with 253 (total 44,969) followed by Monteregie, with 192 (total 17,022) and Lanaudiere, with 173 (total 8,774). 

At the end of October, the premier said the province would clamp down, extending its second lockdown for another month, until Nov. 23, though he had said he would take stock after two weeks, and reconsider if there was noticeable improvement. That did not happen, he said.

Though hospitalizations in the province decreased by six from Monday to Tuesday, there are now 534 people being treated for COVID-19 in Quebec hospitals. Of them, 82 are in the intensive care ward, which is an increase of six from a day earlier. 

As of Tuesday, 99,721 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Quebec, which is 981 more than Monday's number. 

Quebec reported that it completed analyses of 18,911 COVID-19 samples on Nov. 8 (Quebec reports its daily testing figures from two days prior). 

News of a possible vaccine has buoyed spirits, though, said Legault, adding that patience is critical.

"We have to keep hope. Yesterday, we saw that the work for a vaccine is going well. But we must remain very careful, it will take months before we can vaccinate a good part of the population," he said. "We must continue to follow public health, rules, and we must maintain the balance between saving lives and our quality."

Hear Quebec Premier Francois Legault's update on COVID-19 in English here: