MONTREAL -- SEE OUR LATEST COVID-19 UPDATE: Quebec reports 489 new cases of COVID-19 as hospitalizations increase by 20

With 586 new cases of COVID-19 and ten more hospitalizations reported on Monday, Quebec's public health minister has issued a stern warning.

The province is at the start of the second wave of COVID-19, said Dr. Horacio Arruda in a news conference Monday afternoon, telling people it is "very important" to cooperate with public health guidelines right now.

"We don't want to move back into lockdown," said Arruda, adding that it "took a heavy toll psychologically and in many other ways." 

Arruda urged Quebecers to be cautious, follow COVID-19 guidelines and limit gatherings to six people, saying some regions currently classified as "orange zones" under the province's regional alert system, could turn to "red" if people don't exercise vigilance.

New cases surged on Monday by more than 100 from the day before, when 462 new cases were reported.

The provincial total now stands at 68,128 cases of COVID-19.

Montreal reported 219 new cases for a total of 31,528, while the Quebec City region reported 92 cases for a total of 3,061 and the Monteregie reached a total of 10,014 after reporting 76 new cases.

It is very likely that regions including Montreal, Quebec City, Mauricie and Beauce-Appalaches will eventually head into the "red zone" if the current behaviour of citizens remains the same, said Arruda.

The public health director specified that cases will continue to rise if the number of gatherings continues without respecting the distancing.

There were no new deaths in the province from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, though public health officials said three more deaths that occurred between Sept. 14 and 19 were added to the tally, for a total of 5,804.

Ten more people were hospitalized with the disease, for a total of 148. Of them, 30 people are in intensive care, which is one less than on Sunday.

On Sept. 19, health-care professionals analyzed 23,126 samples which is 5,599 fewer than the number analyzed Sept. 18. (Quebec releases its testing data from two days prior to its daily updates).

As of Monday 59,131 people have recovered from the disease, 335 more than on Sunday.

Arruda also urged only those who have symptoms of COVID-19, who came into contact with an infected person or anyone who was told by their school or a public health authority to get tested for the disease -- telling everyone else not to clog up testing sites if they are not at risk.