With COVID-19 numbers once again on the rise in Quebec, some doctors fear a serious crunch could be right around the corner.

Dr. Paul Saba is the head of the Lachine Hospital physician's council. He says their emergency room is already stretched thin, with nighttime ambulance services cut and an overall lack of respiratory specialists on deck.

"We saw that with COVID, we saw how tight things really were," he said. "We only allowed so many lifeboats on the ship, and there were a lot more people who actually needed lifeboats than there were. We need to build more lifeboats."

He said major improvements in Quebec's health network must be made, including growing the family doctor workforce and expanding homecare access to prevent hospital overflow.

"When you have a lack of beds in the hospital, things will back up because they can't be admitted," he explained.

"So when they come in, they just kind of stack up."

The Lachine hospital needs three more respiratory staff members in order to re-open its ICU and get ambulance services back to normal.

The goal is to do so by the end of the fall.

Quebec's health ministry reported 1,313 COVID-19 hospitalizations Saturday, an increase of 19 from the previous day.

Health officials are warning the public to remain extra vigilant ahead of festival season and with new subvariants -- namely BA. 2.12.1, BA. 4 and BA. 5 -- on the rise.