MONTREAL -- The head of Quebec’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence in Health and Social Services is urging Quebecers not to avoid the province's hospitals, saying the risk of catching COVID-19 while receiving needed care is low.

Dr. Luc Boileau said the phenomenon is not unusual, as even before the pandemic, patients sometimes caught other forms communical infections.

Recent data showed that in Quebec, 15 per cent of patients who were tested for COVID-19 seven days after admission to hospital tested positive.

Boileau said the numbers in some countries are higher than Quebec, pointing to the United Kingdom, where 25 to 30 per cent tested positive after leaving hospital.

He noted the 15 per cent figure has remained stable during the second wave of the pandemic and that one in six healthcare workers have caught the virus, placing them at greater risk than the general population.