By Gordon Lambie
Although he opened his press conference by saying that Quebec is “resisting the third wave” that is being seen around the world, Premier Francois Legault’s primary message on Tuesday afternoon was one of ongoing caution.
“We have an opportunity to avoid a third wave, but we must continue to follow the directives,” he said.
Despite a tendency toward loosening restrictions in recent weeks, there were only two changes to those public health directives announced as a part of the biweekly meeting. The first was that high school students in secondary 3, 4, and 5 will be going back to class full time as of next Monday in red zones, and the second was that seniors residences where 75 per cent of the residents or more received their first dose of vaccine at least three weeks ago can reopen their dining rooms.
“All other measures remain the same,” Legault said, arguing that even if Quebec is not seeing increases in new cases or hospitalizations, a stabilization also does not necessarily mean that things are getting better.
The premier made specific mention of the fact that extending curfew across the province to 9:30 p.m. was not an endorsement of public or private gatherings. He called out the situations in the Saguenay and Outaouais regions as being of particular concern at the moment.
The Province of Quebec reported 656 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 303,707; with 6,742 active cases.
There were four new deaths recorded, for a total of 10,618 since the start of the pandemic, and the number of people hospitalized due to the virus increased by six, to 519. The number of people in intensive care, meanwhile, decreased by one to 113.
Another 26,040 doses of vaccine were administered, for a total of 993,102 out of the 1,296,055 doses of vaccine that have been received so far. Legault speculated in the early afternoon that by the end of the day, the province’s millionth dose of vaccine would be administered.
The number of new cases in the Eastern Townships was at one for the second day in a row, although in this case that came as a result of two cases that had previously been reported in the Haute-Yamaska sector being withdrawn from the count. The number of active cases in the Estrie region, however, dropped to 112.
There were no new deaths recorded locally on Tuesday, but the number of hospitalizations increased by one, to 12. The number of people in intensive care decreased to three.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in the province increased by 162 on Tuesday, to a total of 704. In terms of presumptive cases (where a variant is suspected, but not yet confirmed) there were 3,423, 46 of which were in the Estrie Region. As of Tuesday, the provincial institute of public health also started tracking cases of a new variant originally observed in Nigeria.