MONTREAL -- Sectors of eastern Bas-Saint-Laurent region graduateed to the maximum alert level for measures against the spread of COVID-19 Friday.

The RCMs of Rimouski-Neigette, La Mitis, La Matanie and La Matapédia all entered the red zone.

Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dube made the announcement on Friday in a news release, pointing out a rapid change in the situation that has weakened the reception capacity of the regional hospital system.

Public Health made this change due, in particular, to the increase in the number of cases.

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region has reported 948 positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and 21 deaths. The region of just under 200,000 people has averaged 25 new cases per day for the last week.

Red zone rules will come into effect on Monday at 12:30 a.m. The measures concerning schools and sports will come into force on Wednesday, according to the ministry's release.

"This decision seems to us to be the most appropriate given the real risks involved," said Dube.


-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. 

-- with reporting from CTV News.