Canada's top doctor says urgent action is needed to curb the spread of Omicron, which is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in several provinces.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Wednesday there were more than 11,300 new infections nationwide the previous day, up from the average of 5,000 cases per day last week.
She said modelling shows case counts could be "very high" by early January.
On Wednesday evening, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced new restrictions, saying the province had seen 9,000 new COVID-19 cases that day. Those numbers are expected to be recorded today.
As of Boxing Day, he said, private gatherings in the province will be limited to six people or two-family bubbles.
Restaurants, which are already operating at half capacity and have to close at 10 p.m., will also have to limit groups at tables to six people or two families.
Several provinces have recently reinstated stricter public health measures in response to Omicron, including caps on social gatherings and closing some businesses.
Meanwhile, a self-isolating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pushing back at critics who say his government has fumbled the Omicron wave of COVID-19.
Trudeau told reporters Wednesday that they have been working flat out and learning much about COVID over the past two years. He added that the government tried to slow Omicron's introduction to Canada by instituting border restrictions and testing requirements.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2021.
The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Quebec recorded 9,000 COVID-19 cases Wednesday, when in fact, those numbers are expected to be recorded Thursday.