Although the number of hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 has dropped significantly in Quebec, young children with the virus are being admitted at record-breaking rates.

Throughout the ongoing fifth wave of the pandemic, 518 children ages nine-and-under have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, compared to just 33 children in the first wave.

114 children were hospitalized during the second wave, 38 in the third wave, and 78 in the fourth wave.

Although young children currently only represent 2.5 per cent of intensive care (ICU) admissions, this is a significant jump from the 0.04 per cent they represented in Spring of 2020.

Representatives for the pediatric ICU at the Montreal Children’s Hospital told CTV News that most, but not all, of the children admitted have pre-existing health conditions.

Nurse manager Maryse Dagenais said she was “caught off guard” to see “healthy children, teenagers come in with COVID symptoms and requiring hospitalization.”

So far, just under 20.5 per cent of children ages five to 11 have received two doses of the vaccine, while 60.6 per cent have received at least one.

HOSPITALIZATIONS DOWN OVERALL

For the most part, hospitalizations in Quebec are on the downward slope, with the number dipping below 2,500 for the first time in nearly a month on Saturday.

The number of people in ICUs has dropped slightly to 181, and 33 people have died from complications due to COVID-19 — that total is down by half when compared to last week.

With files from CTV's Cindy Sherwin and Max Harrold.