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COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know this weekend

Mayor Valérie Plante tests positive for COVID-19. New measures to combat COVID-19 will be coming into effect Monday, as Quebecers prepare for the holidays and cases soar across the province. Hospitals cancel surgeries to make room for patients.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante tests positive for COVID-19

People line up to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at the Palais des Congrès vaccination clinic in Montreal this weekend. With cases soaring due to the arrival of the Omicron variant, Quebec plans to expand eligibility for third doses next week. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
  • Quebec reported 3,846 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and three new deaths.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 486,323 confirmed cases and 11,639 people have died.
  • There are 376 people in hospital (an increase of 29), including 79 in intensive care (an increase of five). 
  • Since Friday, the province has administered 14,449,734 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • 88 per cent of the eligible population in the province (ages five and up) has received one dose of vaccine, and 81 per cent has received two doses. 

Quebec's Health Ministry does not publish the number of vaccines administered on weekends and public holidays. 


A day after Quebec reported its highest ever daily COVID-19 case count, some Montreal hospitals are delaying surgeries in response to rising case numbers.

In an internal memo obtained by Radio-Canada, the CIUSSS du Nord-De-L'île-de-Montréal told employees elective and cardiac surgeries will be delayed in order increase patient capacity at its four hospitals in Montreal's north end.

The health authority for the northern part of Montreal says it's worried about a rapid rise in cases sparked by the Omicron variant. It will be re-activating COVID hot zones in hospital and long-term care homes to admit patients who have the disease and is encouraging employees to work from home and meet with patients virtually as much as possible.

Montreal mayor tests positive for COVID-19

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced she received a positive COVID-19 result Saturday afternoon, via a Tweet.

On Friday night, Plante said she took a COVID-19 test and was going into preventive isolation after a case was detected "in her entourage."

Plante says she will continue to do her job remotely while she isolates.

Record case numbers

The province announced 3,768 cases on Friday. The previous record was on Jan. 9, when Quebec reported 3,127. On Sunday, the number of infections went up to 3,846 despite taking a dip on Saturday at 3,631.

Sunday, 29 more people were admitted to hospital with the disease and the number of people in intensive care increased by five.

According to data released Thursday by Quebec's public health research institute, the INSPQ, there are currently 309 presumed cases of the Omicron variant in the province.

The milestone comes as the Quebec government tightens measures ahead of the holiday season.

New measures coming in Quebec to combat Omicron variant

1 year ago
Duration 2:28
Quebec Premier François Legault announced a number of measures to take effect on Monday in order to limit the Omicron variant from spreading.

Rapid tests coming Monday

Legault said, as of Monday, rapid tests will be available in pharmacies. However, people should be staying home if they have symptoms and getting officially tested.

Outbreaks at Laval hospital

Two outbreaks were detected over the weekend at Laval's Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital, one in Unit 4 and one at is Vieux-Moulin site. A total of six employees have so far tested positive, according to the local health board. 

As a result, the Laval health board is reducing visits to one every 24 hours per patient at the hospital, the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital and in long-term care homes.

Changing booster shot age limits

As of Monday, people 65 and over will be able to make an appointment for a booster shot, Health Minister Christian Dubé said. People with certain health conditions aged 60 and up will also be eligible.

The Monday after that, all people 60 and up will be able to make an appointment. From there, the aim is to begin offering the rest of the population booster shots in the new year.

Though some experts say it makes sense to prioritize those with a longer delay between their second dose and the booster, Quebec is lagging behind other provinces. 

"We're ahead of everybody in terms of [infection] rates and behind everybody in terms of eligibility for third doses," said Dr. Don Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at McGill University Health Centre.

"It's almost like the government's trying to make the situation worse by doing the opposite of what every other province is starting to realize is common sense."

The government is using an "outdated" strategy that was used when the province had a shortage of vaccines, which Vinh says is no longer the case. 

Two doses of the vaccine still provide important protection against hospitalization, but not necessarily against infection in the face of the new Omicron variant. Three doses are necessary to keep infection at bay, says Benoit Barbeau, a professor of biological science at Université du Québec à Montréal.

Eastern Townships also see record case numbers

The Eastern Townships reported 396 new cases on Friday, the highest daily total since the beginning of the pandemic, and there are currently 71 outbreaks and 1,822 active cases in the region.

The Massey-Vanier regional high school in Cowansville is shut down after at least one case of the Omicron variant was detected among its students.

Regional public health authorities warned people in the Townships today about the increasing pressure on Sherbrooke's Hôtel-Dieu and Fleurimont hospitals, the two main facilities for COVID-19 patients. 

There are currently 35 people in hospital due to the virus, including four in intensive care, and authorities say non-urgent surgeries may have to be delayed to free up personnel and make room for rising hospitalizations.

Top COVID-19 stories

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

       
  • Fever. 
  •    
  • New or worsening cough. 
  •    
  • Difficulty breathing. 
  •    
  • Sudden loss of smell without a stuffy nose.
  •    
  • Gastrointestinal issues (such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting).
  •    
  • Sore throat
  •    
  • Generalized muscle pain.
  •    
  • Headache.
  •    
  • Fatigue.
  •    
  • Loss of appetite.

If you think you may have COVID-19, the government asks that you call 1‑877‑644‑4545 to schedule an appointment at a screening clinic. 

To reserve an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, you can go on the online portal quebec.ca/covidvaccine. You can also call 1-877-644-4545.

You can find information on COVID-19 in the province here and information on the situation in Montreal here

 

With files from The Canadian Press and Radio-Canada

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