MONTREAL -- Quebec on Friday reported another significant jump in daily new COVID-19 cases, with 1,355 new infections.

That's the highest in the province since April 16, and it follows two days of sustained high numbers.

On Wednesday, the province reported 1,196 cases, the highest since April 24, and those numbers dropped only slightly on Thursday, to 1,146.

Two more deaths were reported Friday, the same as the last two days.

Hospitalizations went up slightly, with a net increase of three people in hospital and four more in intensive care, bringing those totals to 230 in hospital and 57 in ICU.

The total number of active cases rose above 9,000 for the first time since May 7, with a total of 9,297.

Notably, the positivity rate for all the COVID-19 tests done in the province has been climbing in the last few days. It went up to 3.7 per cent from the previous day's total of 3.3 per cent, part of an overall climb since a recent low point in late October.

The testing and positivity rate stats are always reported two days later in Quebec, so the 3.7 per cent rate, the most recent one reported, is from Wednesday.

The threshold that's said to generally set off alarms for health authorities is when the test positivity rate reaches 5 per cent.

DESPITE BIG CASELOAD, SOME ENCOURAGING NUMBERS

Health authorities have been warning that they're preparing for a new wave, though they haven't publicly confirmed more than a single case of the new Omicron variant in Quebec.

Still, though the case numbers have been going up, getting closer to the level of this time last year, other numbers are well below what the province was experiencing early last December.

On Dec. 3, 2020, there were 1,470 cases, but 30 deaths -- much higher than the recent average. There were also 13,197 active cases this time last year, about 50 per cent higher than the curent total.

Hospitalizations were also much higher, 737 total hospitalizations and 99 people in ICU. Right now there are about a third that number in hospital and roughly half the ICU total.

Last year at this time there were 13,197 active infections, about 45 per cent higher than today's count.

VACCINATIONS HIGH FOR UNDER-12

Vaccinations continue to climb day by day, with children ages five to 11 accounting for more than half of the new shots reported Friday: there were 29,119 new shots, with 15,516 of them going to children under 12.

As of today, 19 per cent of Quebec kids in that age group have been vaccinated, up from 17 per cent just a day earlier.

As of Thursday morning, one week after vaccinations for that age group opened, the province said that 38 per cent of Quebec kids already either had a shot or were booked to get one.

As of Friday, 63 per cent of Quebec's active outbreaks were in elementary schools or daycares.

People over 70 getting their boosters accounted for another big share of the new daily doses, with Friday's report showing 6,057 boosters newly given out.

According to the province's statistics, unvaccinated people are currently 15 times more likely than the unvaccinated to be hospitalized with COVID-19.

MONTREAL-AREA INFECTION RATE RISING

Regionally, Nunavik in Quebec's far north continues to far outstrip any other part of the province in its rate of active infections. It currently has an astronomical 763 active cases per 100,000 population.

In the south, the hardest-hit regions are the Eastern Townships and Chaudiere-Appalaches, with rates of 268 and 162, respectively.

However, from Thursday to Friday, Montreal and its suburb of Laval both saw jumps in their active case rates, each going from under 130 active cases per 100,000 to over that threshold, and Laval climbing more than eight percentage points in one day.

Montreal now stands at 133 cases per 100,000 people, and Laval is at 138.

Within Montreal, the east end has much higher rates than the rest of the city: the Est-de-l'Ile health district has an active case rate of 229 cases per 100,000 people, while the next-highest rate, 168, is in the central-west district.

In eastern Montreal, 1,231 new cases have been reported in the last two weeks, about double the number in any other district. 

In a press conference Wednesday, Montreal Public Health Director Dr. Mylene Drouin said five neighbourhoods have unusually low vaccination rates, three of which are in eastern Montreal: Anjou, Saint-Leonard, Pointe-aux-Trembles, Saint-Michel and Cote-des-Neiges.

-With files from CTV's Daniel J. Rowe