MONTREAL -- Quebec City health authorities are warning of network overflow as Omicron cases “roughly doubles every two to three days,” according to the city’s Director of Public Health.

“It is a threat that is serious,” said Dr. Andre Dontigny, adding that if cases continue to climb, the health network’s ability to treat everyone could “deteriorate very quickly.”

As the daily rise of Omicron obliterates record rates seen in Quebec so far, it’s not yet known exactly when the province could hit the threshold of hospital overcapacity.

That’s because health-care workers may get sick themselves, health authorities say, though its still unclear if Omicron is more contagious than Delta

The health network is already grappling with a labour shortage. For the staff that is there, “our teams are worn out from long battles against COVID, and currently, our teams are also affected by COVID,” said Dr. Stéphane Bergeron, director of professional services and medical affairs at the CHU de Québec.

On Thursday, there were 111 affected hospital workers, according to Bergeron.

“Omicron is creeping into our healthcare teams like no other viral form before,” said the head of the intensive care department of the Laval University Institute of Cardiology and Quebec Pneumology, Dr. Mathieu Simon.

“This is the great uncertainty.”

Dontigny called on residents to do their part to limit the spread. Quebec has already slashed indoor gathering limits, but “if you have the opportunity to reduce these contacts much more, we highly recommend it,” he said.

“Health network stakeholders are at the forefront of this fight, but we cannot lead it alone, we need the support of the population.”

Chaudière-Appalaches remains the most affected region in the province, with a rate of 700 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec.

The region's public health director, Dr. Liliana Romero, described a “critical situation” linked to a “meteoric rise in cases.”

Residents have faced delays in getting tested for the virus. “We have exceeded our capacity of screening centers,” said Romero, who called on people to take the cautious route if they suspect they have COVID-19.

“If you have symptoms, stay home,” she said.

-- This report was first published by The Canadian Press in French with the financial support of the Facebook and The Canadian Press News Scholarships on Dec. 23, 2021.