Quebec reports 775 new COVID-19 cases, seven deaths, 41,000 more vaccinations

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MONTREAL — Quebec set a new daily high for vaccinations as authorities reported 775 new COVID-19 infections and seven more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus on Saturday.

Authorities said they administered 41,338 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Friday for a total of 915,653 since the immunization drive kicked off, roughly 10.8 per cent of the population.

Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter the daily inoculations marked another daily high, adding the province wants to continue that trend.

"The massive vaccination operation is proceeding smoothly," Dube wrote.

The province aims to have all adult Quebecers who want a vaccine receive their first dose by June 24. Dube told a Friday vaccine briefing that staying close to 50,000 jabs daily while vaccine supply remains limited will put authorities in good position when the program ramps up amid increased deliveries.

Over the past week, the province has averaged just under 33,000 injections daily. Pharmacies in Montreal will begin administering vaccines to those 65 or older on Monday, a week after beginning to accept bookings .

Inoculations come amid concerns about more transmissible COVID-19 variants circulating in different regions. Quebec has 542 confirmed variant cases and 2,949 presumptive cases.

Of the confirmed infections, 432 are the B.1.1.7 novel coronavirus variant, the more contagious mutation first identified in the United Kingdom. There are 107 cases of the B.1.351 mutation first identified in South Africa, with 100 of those cases in the province's Abitibi-Temiscamingue region.

Provincial health authorities said hospitalizations increased by one to 505, while the number of intensive care cases remained unchanged at 99.

There are currently 6,894 active cases in the province.

Quebec has reported 301,691 infections, 10,594 deaths and 284,203 recoveries since the beginning of the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2021.

The Canadian Press