MONTREAL -- Quebec public health is recommending all employers delay their plans to bring workers back to the office because of the precarious COVID-19 situation in the province.

"In the context of an upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases resulting from the current fourth wave, as well as the marked presence of the Delta variant within the population, it would be more prudent to postpone the gradual return of employees in workplaces that has started recently," the Ministry of Health and Social Services said in a press release issued Wednesday.

The recommendation, the ministry says, will be reassessed near the beginning of October. 

The ministry of health notes that many COVID-19 outbreaks in previous waves of the pandemic happened in the workplace and that the next few weeks will be "unpredictable" with students going back to school and more social contacts. 

About 50 per cent of new coronavirus infections are from the more contagious Delta variant, according to the government. 

The move also follows a new directive from the Government of Quebec for all of its public servants to postpone plans for a gradual return to work on Oct. 4 instead of Sept. 7. 

"The epidemiological situation is forcing us to play it safe and postpone our plan to return to the workplace by one month. The health and safety of our employees is paramount and as a major employer, I feel we must lead by example," states a news release from the office of the minister responsible for government administration, Sonia LeBel. 

The government said the gradual return-to-work date will be confirmed near the end of September and in the meantime, the majority of workers should continue to work from home. 

"We will assess the situation at the end of September to see if the October 4 date is maintained and we will inform the affected staff," Minister LeBel said in the release. 

News of the delay comes as Quebec is reporting a surge in new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 550 new infections added. About 85 per cent of those cases involved people who are not fully vaccinated, according to ministry of health data.