MONTREAL -- Quebec is expected to decide by next week whether it plans to add measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the province, as cumulative cases surpassed 160,000 on Friday. 

"We have a situation that remains difficult," Premier Francois Legault said at the last news conference of the fall session on Friday. "But I still wish to say to Quebecers that every effort that we’ve made so far… These are efforts that have given us something."

New restrictions would mean the closure of non-essential businesses, Legault said earlier this week.  

"It has to be understood that the following weeks are going to be critical," he said Friday.  

Legault also mentioned he's been hearing rumours that people are still planning to gather over the holidays -- and he's asking them not to. Instead, he hopes those who have long breaks -- like students and construction workers -- will use the opportunity to help break the second wave. 

"In a marathon, the most difficult are the last kilometres to be run, we are now in those last kilometres so it’s worth continuing, making efforts so that we have as many people as possible cross the finish line," Legault said. "We see the line at the end of the tunnel.”

Quebec officials reported that 1,713 more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours bringing the total number of positive cases to 160,023 in 2020.

Friday's update also saw the Laurentians region enter the red zone on the province's regional alert map. 

The Quebec Institute of Public Health noted that there are now 15,941 active cases in the province and that 1,736 more people have recovered from the disease. The total number of recoveries is now 136,646.

Quebec also reported 53 more deaths due to the disease with six occurring in the past 24 hours, 36 between Dec. 4 and Dec. 9, 10 before Dec. 4 and one at an unknown date. 

The total number of people who have died due to the disease since the start of the pandemic is now 7,435.

Hospitals will be further taxed in the coming days with the province reporting 23 more hospitalizations for a total of 871. Quebec has said it has 2,000 hospital beds designated for COVID-19 patients. Of those in the hospital currently, 123 are in the intensive care ward, an increase of 10.

Health-care professionals analyzed 37,473 samples Dec. 9. (Quebec releases its testing data from two days prior to its daily updates).


After breaking its record for new cases Thursday with 648, Montreal's new infections remained high with 512 new cases (56,420 total). Montreal also reported two more deaths bringing that total to 3,700.

Monteregie with 239 new cases (22,465 total), Quebec City with 207 new (13,762 total), and the Laurentians with 104 new (8,683 total) all reported high numbers of new cases.

Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Quebec reported a sharp rise in new deaths with 19 more (303 total) for a region with a population of just over 260,000.

Six deaths were reported in Quebec City (508 total), five in Monteregie (927 total), four in Lanaudiere (359 total) and three in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (164 total).


Quebec Minister of Education Jean-Francois Roberge put to bed rumours that a school closure is forthcoming. 

"We deny this rumour," he wrote on Twitter. "No school closures will be announced today. Students will be in class on Monday."