MONTREAL — Quebec reported a continued drop in overall COVID-19 case numbers on Saturday, as Premier Francois Legault called on residents to hold strong amid tougher restrictions on daily life.
Legault released a message on his Facebook page on Saturday in which he acknowledged Quebecers were frustrated, but called for empathy for essential workers, who he said are bearing the brunt of much of people's stress.
"This is normal, given all the upheaval we're going through," Legault said. "People are more impatient. At times, we have a bit of a short fuse."
The drop in case numbers comes after the Quebec government implemented an 8 p.m. curfew province-wide on Jan. 9. Legault attributed the decline to the curfew, but has said hospitals are too full to lift the new restrictions as scheduled on Feb. 8, raising the likelihood that they will remain in place for at least several more weeks.
Quebec on Saturday reported a drop in the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19, continuing a trend that has been ongoing for the last several days, provincial health minister Christian Dubé said on Twitter. But Dubé warned that hospitalizations are still high, making it difficult for health-care workers to handle the load.
Legault said earlier this month that the situation in Quebec's hospitals was critical, especially in the Montreal area.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 fell by 43 to 1,383 on Saturday, while deaths attributed to the virus rose by 76 to 9,437 since the start of the pandemic.
The total number of new COVID-19 cases reported on Saturday was 1,685. As of Saturday, at least 225,245 people in Quebec have recovered from COVID-19.
The premier said in his Facebook post that there were encouraging signs that the situation in the province would improve soon, noting that Quebec finished vaccinating long-term care residents this week along with 130,000 health-care workers.
Quebec reported administering 9,715 new vaccinations over the past 24 hours, for a total of 210,252 doses, or 2.46 per cent of the province's population.
During the last seven days, 72,396 people have been vaccinated, for a daily average of 10,342 people.
The Quebec government expects hospitalizations and case numbers to drop over the course of the next few weeks, Legault said.
"There is hope on the horizon," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2021.
Jon Victor, The Canadian Press