Quebec’s top doctor is urging caution and told people to isolate if they don’t feel well as pandemic-related hospitalizations topped 2,000 on Wednesday for the first time since mid-February.
Luc Boileau, the province’s interim director of public health, said that while some COVID-19 indicators are improving in eastern parts of Quebec, the sixth wave is still evolving.
“Overall, the situation remains fragile,” Boileau told reporters.
Boileau stopped short of telling people to avoid seeing one another ahead of the long weekend, saying that the province wasn’t going to put a cap on gatherings.
Stay home if you have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, he added. Quebecers should also be cautious about gathering with anyone who is 60 and older.
“For Easter, you have to manage your risks,” he said.
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Boileau also spoke of a new flu season arriving in the province. With symptoms similar to that of COVID-19, he said people should isolate if they feel ill.
His message comes as Quebec reported 13 new deaths linked to the virus while hospitalizations rose by 122 for a total of 2,060. This comes after 224 people were admitted while 102 left in the last day.
Officials say 83 patients were being treated for the disease in intensive care units, an increase of 16.
Quebec premier talks about rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations
The Health Department says it recently updated its guidelines for transmitting data on hospitalizations. It says that a certain number of entries and discharges could not be counted in Wednesday’s daily tally as a result.
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With numbers on the rise, Boileau said about about 12,700 employees in the health network are currently absent from work due to the health crisis.
The province also logged 3,515 new infections in the latest roundup, but it isn’t representative of the situation since only a few groups can access PCR testing.
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On that note, 22,777 tests were administered at government-run screening sites.
The results of 1,379 rapid tests were declared by Quebecers on the online portal in the past day. This includes 1,164 results positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, 38,839 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given in a 24-hour period. The province has doled out more than 18.9 million shots to date.
The immunization rollout has ramped up in recent weeks as eligibility expanded for fourth doses of the vaccine.
On Wednesday, public health officials urged those who haven’t gotten their third dose to do so as soon as possible, saying it remains a key component to preventing severe cases of COVID-19.
“There are lots of appointments available,” said Daniel Paré, head of the vaccination campaign.
Quebec has reported a total of 1,007,006 official cases and 14,592 deaths over the course of the pandemic. The number of recoveries from the virus reached 960,000 in the latest update.
Novavax vaccine now available
The Quebec government is now offering up the newly approved Novavax vaccine as a first or second dose.
Last month, Boileau said the protein-based vaccine could be an option for people who are reluctant to take an mRNA vaccine, such as the ones made by Pfizer or Moderna.
The province has so far received 7,500 doses of the Novavax vaccine. Officials say up to 220,000 additional doses are on the way.
The Novavax vaccine is only being offered at walk-in immunization clinics.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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