Virus situation ‘critical’ in Canada’s Quebec province: premier

A second wave of Covid-19 in Canada is on its way to topping the average number of new daily cases from the outbreak’s May peak, with the situation in hardest-hit Quebec province reaching a “critical” point, authorities warned Thursday.

“The situation is critical in Quebec,” the province’s Premier Francois Legault said, reporting 16 new deaths in recent days, a figure unmatched since the end of the first wave of the epidemic in late June.

“Compared to mid-August, we went from 50 new cases per day to 900 per day… from a hundred hospitalizations to 275,” he said of his province of 8 million people.

Across Canada, a country of 38 million, daily case counts “continue to rise” to 1,572 on average over the past week, said chief public health officer Theresa Tam, compared to a peak seven-day average of 1,797 daily cases at the beginning of May.

Around 80 percent of those cases have been reported by Quebec and Ontario, she said, noting an uptick also in hospitalizations.

Ontario, with a population of nearly 15 million, reported 538 new cases and three new deaths on Thursday.

“Yesterday’s modeling data was a wake-up call,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said, forecasting daily new cases in October will hit 1,000.

Quebec has reintroduced restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19 in Montreal and Quebec City.

Bars, dine-in restaurants, concert halls, cinemas and libraries were ordered closed until the end of October.

Residents are also barred from having guests in their homes, and outdoor public gatherings are practically prohibited.

“I understand that these measures are hard for a lot of people,” Legault commented, adding that they are necessary to “reduce the number of people infected and deaths.”

Canada’s Covid-19 tally rose Thursday to 160,229 cases, including 9,349 deaths. (AFP)