Quebec demands tighter measures on international travel as COVID-19 cases continue to surge
MONTREAL -- Quebec health authorities reported 2,381 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the province since the start of the pandemic to 197,311. Of them, 21,125 are active.
Tuesday's updated numbers come as the province records its first case of the coronavirus variant from the U.K.
Quebec is now recording around 2,200 to 2,300 new cases per day, Health Minister Christian Dube said at an afternoon news conference.
"There’s even been a slight increase over the past few days," he said. "I must admit I would have liked to be here today with better news."
Quebec also reported another 64 deaths linked to the disease on Tuesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 8,124. Of the latest deaths,17 occurred in the past 24 hours, 39 are from between Dec. 22 and Dec. 27, one is from before Dec. 22 and seven are from an unknown date.
Hospitalizations in Quebec increased by seven from Monday to Tuesday and there are now 1,131 people receiving treatment for COVID-19 in hospitals across the province. Of them, 148 are in the intensive care ward, which is two fewer than Monday's total.
"The situation is critical in some regions, specifically in the Montreal region, as the INESSS forecasts have demonstrated," Dube said. "Half of designated beds are already filled up."
Montreal reported 968 new cases on Tuesday, which brings the city's total to 69,648 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Monteregie reported 322 new cases (total 27,626), Quebec City, 218 (total 17,314), Laval, 208 (total 16,188), and Mauricie, 128 (total 9,528). Lanaudiere reported 123 new cases (total 14,831), Chaudiere-Appalaches, 109 (total 8,014), and the Laurentians, 107 (total 10,609).
Quebec reported that another 2,857 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered on Monday, for a total of 22,500 across the province.
As of Tuesday, 168,061 people are confirmed recovered from COVID-19 in Quebec, up 1,995 from Monday.
Quebec reported that it completed analyses of 23,444 COVID-19 samples on Dec. 27 (Quebec reports its daily testing figures from two days prior).
CRACKING DOWN ON TRAVEL
Dube said Quebec has a list of demands for the federal government regarding travel restrictions as about 3,000 people are expected to return to the province on Wednesday.
He said they are in agreement on adding new measures -- which mainly include mandatory testing at departure and arrival airports and stricter follow-ups during quarantine upon return -- but that they disagree about the timeline.
"The federal government is talking about the application of these measures for the beginning of January," Dube said. "I’ve indicated that this is not quick enough."
He added that the Quebec government asked for international travel to be banned altogether months ago, but the federal government refused.
Once the new rules come into effect, Quebecers who choose to travel will have to take rapid COVID-19 tests at the airport before they can board a plane to come home, and another test when they land.
“The images we’ve seen of travellers down south are shocking for everybody," Dube said. "We have to remember what’s happening here."
Dube specified that the Quebec government wants tests in airports to come from the federal government's inventory.