Second straight day Quebec City reports highest number of new infections in province

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Health officials in Quebec City pleaded with residents on Friday to follow health orders after the capital region reported the highest number of new daily infections in the province for a second consecutive day.

Quebec City reported 449 new COVID-19 cases compared to 392 in Montreal, a city more than three times its size. The region south of the provincial capital, Chaudiere-Appalaches, reported 218 new cases.

"We don't know how it'll evolve in the coming days, will it reach a plateau? Will it continue to increase?" Dr. Andre Dontigny, head of public health for the provincial capital health region, told reporters.

"We don't know, but it's not improbable that cases will continue to rise."

He said 70 per cent of the new cases reported in Quebec City involve the B.1.1.7 mutation of the novel coronavirus, which is considered more contagious and virulent than the original strain.

The Quebec government has placed Quebec City, Levis, Gatineau and several municipalities in the Beauce region under emergency measures, closing schools and non-essential businesses in those areas and applying an 8 p.m. curfew.

The health order was extended by the Legault government on Thursday until at least April 18, and it is unclear whether it'll need to be extended further in the provincial capital, Dontigny said.

Quebec reported 1,683 new COVID-19 cases Friday and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including five in the previous 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations rose by three, to 569, and 134 people were in intensive care, a rise of two.

Quebec set a single day record for COVID-19 vaccinations Thursday with 69,148 doses administered, including 16,161 Oxford-AstraZeneca shots that were administered at special walk-in clinics for those 55 and older wanting that specific vaccine.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is currently only available to those between the ages of 55 and 79, after the government suspended its use in younger people over concerns about rare but serious blood clots.

The province has now vaccinated 1,754,749 people with a dose of vaccine, representing about 20.6 per cent of the population.

Late Thursday, Quebec announced the first 13 companies that will operate clinics in their workplaces; each site will vaccinate up to 25,000 people between May and August.

Participating companies include National Bank, Bell, and Groupe CH, owner of the Montreal Canadiens NHL team. The clinics will be located in eight different health regions and should be operational by May 1.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press