Legault counting on vaccine coverage as Quebec reports over 1,000 new COVID-19 cases

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Premier François Legault tried to reassure Quebecers on Friday that despite the fact health officials reported more than 1,000 new daily cases for the first time since May, hospitalizations remained stable because of the province's strong vaccination coverage.

Health officials reported 1,037 new COVID-19 cases on Friday but no new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by four compared with the prior day, to 206, after 13 patients entered hospital and 17 were discharged. The number of people in intensive care dropped by two, to 43.

"We must remain prudent: Yes we have (more than) 1,000 cases, but we have 200 hospitalizations, which is four or five times less than many countries in Europe and the United States," Legault told reporters in Montreal.

"Our hospitalizations, thanks to vaccination, remain relatively low, but it will be important to continue with the vaccination," he said, referring to children aged five to 11.

Legault said his biggest worry was the news of a new novel coronavirus variant of concern, dubbed B.1.1.529, which originated in South Africa. The premier called on the federal government to quickly ban flights from that country and ban travellers who had transited through it.

There are no direct flights from South Africa to Canada.

“There are already countries that have started blocking the entry of passengers coming from South Africa; I think we should do the same in Canada, quickly,” he said.

Legault said he was not willing to make any promises about his government's future health orders around Christmas gatherings. He said authorities will wait a week or two to reflect before proposing a plan. While the province has relaxed certain measures in recent weeks, gatherings at home remain limited to 10 people from three households.

"I hope with all my heart that we'll be able to have a Christmas that's a bit more normal," he said.

Quebec has 7,324 active reported cases of COVID-19. Authorities said 19,266 doses of vaccine were administered on Thursday. The province's public health institute said more than 88 per cent of the population aged 12 and older was adequately vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of Friday morning, 172,600 vaccination appointments had been made for Quebec children aged five to 11, who were eligible to receive their first doses as of Wednesday. So far, 15,599 youngsters have received a first dose.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2021.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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