Quebec reports 3,631 new COVID-19 cases, hospitalization and ICU numbers skyrocket
Quebec reported Saturday that 3,631 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, and hospitalizations due to the disease skyrocketed by 35.
Of the new cases, 2,320 were reported in people who were double-vaccinated more than seven days prior, 122 in those who had received one dose more than 14 days ago, and 1,189 people were unvaccinated or received one dose less than two weeks prior.
There are now 1,322 active outbreaks and the positivity rate in Quebec is 8.9 per cent.
There were 57 new non-intensive care ward patients admitted to hospital and 34 discharged, while 17 more people were admitted to intensive care wards and five were discharged.
There are now 347 patients receiving care for COVID-19, including 74 people in intensive care wards, a net increase of 12.
Two more people have died due to the novel coronavirus.
The province is reporting that around 25,000 people over 70 have received their third booster dose of vaccine.
Premier Francois Legault posted a frank message on his Facebook page detailing the grave situation the Omicron variant presents to the province.
Legault reintroduced a series of measures coming into effect on Monday to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus and said experts have told the government that Quebecers will need to cut their contacts by half.
Plans to increase indoor gathering limits during the Christmas holiday were also shelved for a second year in a row, maintaining the maximum at 10 people instead of increasing to 20.
"I know that I disappointed a lot of people and you may be mad at me or the situation, that's OK," Legault wrote in a Facebook post to Quebecers, adding it's not something that leaves him indifferent.
"I prefer to give you hope than to disappoint you, but my duty is to tell you the truth and to make decisions, no matter how hard or unpopular."
Faced with modelling that shows Quebec hospitals could be hit hard in a matter of weeks, Legault said he made the decision to reintroduce measures. That includes cutting capacity in half for retail, bars, restaurants, churches and entertainment venues, and banning Christmas parties, karaoke and dancing in bars and restaurants.
"What we all realized this week … is that the Omicron variant is advancing at breakneck speed," Legault said. "It's hard to imagine, something so overwhelming has never been seen since the start of the pandemic."
On Saturday, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante confirmed she'd tested positive for COVID-19, one day after announcing she was self-isolating because someone close to her had tested positive. Plante said she would continue to work virtually.
"The Omicron variant is very contagious," she wrote on Twitter. "Let us remain cautious and respect the public health rules. We will make it through this wave together."
Legault called for a Christmas truce: an end to social media attacks for a few weeks and a renewed focus on reducing contacts, getting a booster and doing what's necessary to reduce the impact on the health network.
Quebec has moved up booster doses for those 60 and older from January to next week and will make COVID-19 booster doses available to residents under 60 in January. Until now, a third dose has been offered to those over 70, to health-care workers, and the immunocompromised. The province has also announced it will cut the interval between the second and third dose from six months to three.
According to the Health Department, 88 per cent of Quebecers aged five and older have received at least a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 81 per cent have received at least two doses and seven per cent have received a booster.
"Let's take a break to focus on what we have to do in the next few weeks," Legault wrote. "Reduce our contacts, get a third dose, do everything to relieve our caregivers and take care of each other. It would be a nice collective Christmas present for each other."
-- With files from The Canadian Press.
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