Quebec public health projections suggest COVID-19 hospitalizations may go up in February

Quebec's interim director of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, says the situation in Quebec hospitals over the next few weeks depends largely on how Quebecers respond to relaxing of public health restrictions

Relaxing of public health measures is a wildcard, public health report suggests

Interim Quebec director of public health Dr. Luc Boileau told a news conference Wednesday he's optimistic that the number of hospitalizations in Quebec won't increase 'too much' in February, but he admitted the situation is fragile. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Public health officials in Quebec are warning that the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks may lead to an increase in hospitalizations in February but they admit it's difficult to say with certainty.

"We shouldn't worry too much but it's quite likely that the lifting of measures will lead to more contagion, with the risk in particular of seeing more hospitalizations," said the interim director of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, at a news conference Wednesday.

Hospitalizations in Quebec have steadily declined over the last couple of weeks. 

"In more recent data and in the last week of January, we note that the decline is starting to slow down. Transmission is decreasing, but less markedly. There's a trend that's changing," Éric Litvak, vice-president of Quebec's institute of public health (INSPQ), told the news conference.

The INSPQ's latest projections released Wednesday suggested things could go either way.

"The new projections suggest that hospitalizations should continue to decline over the course of the coming days/weeks," the institute's report said.

"Nevertheless, projections cannot exclude a further increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths in February" following the lifting of some public health rules — such as allowing small indoor gatherings and the reopening of restaurants —announced Jan. 25, the report said.

Most projections indicate "the level of current hospitalizations could remain at a high level for several more weeks," the INSPQ concluded.

WATCH | Interim public health director says Quebecers' behaviours is key:

Boileau weighs whether another wave is coming this month

6 months ago
Duration 0:56
Quebec's interim public health director says the public's willingness to follow remaining restrictions will determine whether COVID-19 will surge again this month.

Boileau said much of what happens will depend on the behaviour of Quebecers as measures are relaxed. He said social distancing, masking, and getting vaccinated remain important.

"I'm sure the willingness of the people to respect those measures in reality will help us not to develop new cases of hospitalization," Boileau said.

"But if we are not careful, we may experience some upgrading of them and that will be really sad to see," Boileau added.


Steve Rukavina


Steve Rukavina has been with CBC News in Montreal since 2002. In 2019, he won a RTDNA award for continuing coverage of sexual misconduct allegations at Concordia University. He's also a co-creator of the podcast, Montreapolis. Before working in Montreal he worked as a reporter for CBC in Regina and Saskatoon. You can reach him at