Quebec reports 15,000th death linked to COVID-19 since beginning of pandemic

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MONTREAL — Quebec has now recorded 15,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to figures published Saturday on the province's open data website.

The numbers show 23 additional deaths associated with the virus were reported in the province over the previous 24 hours.

Quebec has recorded more deaths linked to COVID-19 than any other province in Canada. As of Friday, there had been a total of 39,182 deaths linked to the disease across the country, according to federal government data.

At a press conference Thursday, Quebec's interim public health director acknowledged the province has seen a "huge" number of deaths. But Dr. Luc Boileau said many of the province's COVID-19 deaths have involved people who were infected with the disease, but whose death was caused by another condition.

In early January, a study involving several hospitals in the province found that 30 per cent of deaths that took place over a two-week period and were linked to COVID-19 were not caused by the virus.

"The COVID was there, but it was not the main cause of death," Boileau said. "We're never satisfied by the fact there are people who will die from it, but the numbers are not that different from other jurisdictions."

Dr. Francesca Rubulotta, the head of Critical Care at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, said her hospital has seen more deaths than many other facilities because patients are referred there after treatment fails elsewhere.

Of the people currently receiving treatment in the critical care ward "most of them are patients who either decided not to be vaccinated, which is quite annoying," she said in a recent interview. "Or, unfortunately, they received a transplant and they're immunosuppressed."

Other patients, she said, have been sick for a long time and have severe lung damage.

Hospital treatment and followup care have improved over the past two years and vaccination has led to less serious cases, she said, but some patients still die.

There were 2,252 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Saturday, a decline of 38 from the day before, according to Quebec's open data site. The number of people in intensive care decreased by six from the previous day and now stands at 74.

The data shows 1,557 new cases were detected Friday with PCR testing, which is reserved for certain higher-risk groups.

Quebec's Health Department does not provide regular COVID-19 updates on weekends.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2022.

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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