LÉVIS, QUE. -- Quebec is ruling out imposing new health restrictions, despite the steady rise of new COVID-19 cases.

Health Minister Christian Dubé, however, says he is concerned about the spike in new cases, just weeks before the holidays.

Legault has already made it clear that he would like to authorize gatherings of up to 25 people in homes during the holidays, rather than the current limit of 10 people.

"We're not planning to add measures," said Legault late Wednesday afternoon during a press conference at a vaccination center in Lévis, Que. "I know Quebecers well enough to know that there are many people fed up with the current measures."

He and the health minister say they are watching the numbers closely.

"We don't like the trend, but it's under control," Legault noted.

The 1,196 cases of COVID-19 reported in Quebec on Wednesday have authorities worried, but Legault points out the number of hospitalizations is currently 239.

"The key is to monitor the number of hospitalizations. As long as we stay at low levels, it remains under control," he said.

The province is now focusing on mass vaccination of five to 11-year-olds, who are currently contributing to the rise in cases.

The number of children vaccinated has now reached 37 per cent and should have a "downward effect" on reported cases, Legault added. 

Quebec's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, will report next week on whether or not he recommends allowing gatherings of up to 25 people.


Wednesday morning, Dubé suggested that the current situation is not encouraging.

"Twelve hundred cases, I don't like it. We're back to our highest level in the last month. We are not finished with the vaccination of children, we are not finished with the vaccination of our older people," he said.

He deplored the fact that there are still 650,000 Quebecers who could be vaccinated, but are not.

"We're not talking about five to 11-year-olds or zero to five-year-olds. There are 650,000 Quebecers who refuse to be vaccinated and we are at the beginning of a new variant and we are at the beginning of winter," said the health minister. 

Dubé adds he is also concerned about rising hospitalization numbers.

"I've seen, in three consecutive days, an increase of 10 hospitalizations and intensive care [cases per day]," he said. "That's real. That's what's happening to us right now and we have a variant case."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 1, 2021.