- Quebec reported 4,571 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and three new deaths.
- Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 490,294 confirmed cases and 11,642 people have died.
- There are 397 people in hospital (an increase of 21), including 82 in intensive care (an increase of three).
- The province has administered 14,358,997 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 45,063 in the last 24 hours.
- 89 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.
Quebec is closing schools, bars, gyms and movie theatres as public health officials race to slow the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said in the face of the variant, which appears to be doubling its spread every few days, the government had to take action to prevent the health-care system from being overwhelmed.
Bars, gyms, movie theatres, concert venues and spas must close as of 5 p.m. Restaurants will have to reduce their capacity to 50 per cent and limit their hours to 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Schools will close early for the holidays, shutting down as of Monday evening and returning on Jan. 10. Elementary schools will remain open only for vaccination campaigns and the distribution of rapid test kits. High school students who are due to start earlier than Jan. 10 will move to online learning.
Working from home is now being mandated for all non-essential workers, including civil servants.
WATCH | Quebec’s health minister says new measures needed to protect health system:
The province reported 4,571 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, shattering last week’s single-day record of 3,768 cases and surpassing the peak of Quebec’s second wave in terms of infections.
Lower North Shore asks for military help
Rangers with the Canadian Armed Forces will be lending a hand in the municipality of Bonne-Espérance, about 60 kilometres west of the Labrador border on Quebec’s Lower North Shore, to help the community deal with a major COVID-19 outbreak.
Mayor Dale Robert-Keats says Bonne-Espérance, which has a population of around 500 people, accounts for the majority of the North Shore’s 72 active cases.
She says cases have snowballed since the first one was detected last Tuesday. Many community members were in close contact and because so many are in isolation, she requested that Rangers in the region be brought in to do wellness checks and deliver groceries and medication to people who can’t leave their homes.
Bumpy start to rapid test rollout
As of Monday, some Quebec pharmacies began distributing free rapid tests for COVID-19 to people in line and those who waited patiently for online portals to open up.
The provincial Health Ministry has said the tests will be rolled out gradually, with about 4.3 million going to pharmacies and two million going to seniors’ homes.
The Quebec Order of Pharmacists has said the 1,900 pharmacies set to distribute the tests will be receiving a first box of 108 kits of five tests as of Monday, or Tuesday at the latest.
Some pharmacies, including the Jean-Coutu and Brunet chains, will be distributing the tests by appointment only — though both websites crashed early Monday morning.
Reduced capacity at stores, smaller gathering rules now in effect, too
Government restrictions that aimed to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 come into effect today across Quebec.
In shops and shopping centres, the limit has been set at one customer per 20 square meters of floor space. This measure does not affect personal care establishments such as hairdressers and massage therapists.
Private gatherings will be reduced to 10 people inside, 20 outside and it is recommended that people use rapid testing kits before gathering.
3rd doses now available for those 65 and over
As of Monday, people 65 and over are able to make an appointment for a booster shot, the health minister said. People with certain health conditions aged 60 and up are 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.
Third doses are also available to early childhood educators who work in daycare centres, caregivers and first responders.
Hospitals delay surgeries, tackle outbreaks
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 hospitals 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.
Meanwhile, Laval’s regional health authority reported two outbreaks over the weekend.
Admissions have been suspended at both the Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital and the Vieux-Moulin temporary care centre.
A total of six employees have so far tested positive, according to the local health board.
As a result, the health authority is only allowing one visitor every 24 hours per patient in several facilities, including the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital and in long-term care homes.
Top COVID-19 stories
- Changing plans this holiday season? Here is some advice for facing those tough decisions
- A new COVID benefit is now in effect, but no one can access it
- People are rethinking travel and gathering plans as COVID-19 cases soar
- Governments scramble as Omicron variant takes over
- What you need to know about traveling, gathering, and rapid testing