Legault worried as COVID-19 cases rise in regions where restrictions were loosened

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday he's concerned about an increase in the number of active COVID-19 cases in five parts of the province where restrictions were recently loosened.

Legault told a news conference in Quebec City he's particularly worried about the situation in the Outaouais region, which borders Ontario. He said Quebec is working with Ontario to harmonize the restrictions in force in Outaouais and Ottawa.

Quebec City, Beauce, Lac Saint-Jean and Bas-Saint-Laurent are also under "high surveillance," Legault said.

The premier said he's concerned people in those regions aren't following restrictions currently in place, particularly around in-home gatherings, because other regions where restrictions were recently loosened have not seen a similar increase in cases.

However, he said tighter restrictions are being considered for the five regions if the situation doesn't improve. An increased proportion of the province's vaccine supply will be sent to those regions, Legault added.

Following a recommendation Monday from federal experts to suspend use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in people under 55, Legault said he believes that the vaccine is safe for people over 55. "The greater risk is to refuse to be vaccinated," he said.

Earlier in the day, Quebec's public health institute said it has confirmed 429 additional COVID-19 cases that involve variants of concern. The institute said that there are now 1,134 confirmed cases of the more transmissible variants in the province.

It said it has also detected 468 suspected cases of variants, bringing the total of suspected cases to 6,948. It takes at least seven days to confirm suspected cases through a sequencing test.

Health authorities in the province reported 864 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and seven additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus, including one within the previous 24 hours.

The Health Department said the number of hospitalizations rose by 10 from Monday to 487, while the number of people in intensive care rose by six, to 126.

Quebec has reported 310,066 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 10,658 deaths linked to the disease.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press