The number of Quebecers hospitalized due to the virus is at its highest point in more than a month.

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Check back throughout the day for the latest updates.


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Top updates:

  • Quebec reports 1,367 new cases, 2 more deaths
  • Opposition parties, Legault clash over inquiry into CHSLD deaths

1:20 p.m.

Quebec identifies more Omicron variant cases

Five Omicron variant cases have now been identified in Quebec, Quebec’s health ministry reported on Wednesday. All of the cases are in connection with travellers.

The province had previously reported just one Omicron case, involving a traveller from Nigeria. On Monday, Quebec’s public health institute said t here did not appear to be any community transmission of the variant.

A further seven cases are being investigated.


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1:00 p.m.

Montreal public health orders St-Léonard church to follow COVID-19 rules

In a letter dated Dec. 1, the regional public health authority ordered the Good News Chapel to only allow fully vaccinated individuals access to its premises, encourage adherents to be tested for the coronavirus, report any cases and maintain an up-to date ledger of visitors.

Montreal public health authority spokesperson Jean-Nicolas Aubé said on Wednesday that the failure of any establishment to comply with COVID-19 regulations opens the door to consequences that could include the venue being closed to the public.

Earlier in the day, CTV News reported  that one worshipper had died and numerous others fallen ill because of a COVID-19 outbreak at the church.


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Read the full story here.

12:20 p.m.

Legault insists another inquiry into CHSLD death is not necessary

Under pressure from all three opposition parties, Premier François Legault said Quebecers want action to improve living conditions, not more talk and inquiries into past events.

“It is exactly the role of the coroner to get to the bottom of things,” Legault said during question period. “It is exactly the role of the health commissioner to get to the bottom of things.

“These are independent persons who have all the powers (they need). What we need now is not a fourth or fifth inquiry. It is to act.”

The Premier has faced mounting pressure to launch a public inquiry in recent days following news that bureaucrats and at least one cabinet minister were warned as early as mid-March 2020 that a disaster was in the works in the CHSLD system.


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Read the full story from Philip Authier here.

12:00 p.m.

Opposition parties continue pressing for public inquiry into CHSLD deaths

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A day after coming together to c all for a full public inquiry into the disaster in Quebec’s CHSLDs in the pandemic’s first wave, opposition leaders at the National Assembly kept the pressure on Premier François Legault.

Liberal leader Dominique Anglade, noting that her party was the first to push for a public inquiry, said support for the idea had grown in recent months.

“Now that all the opposition parties, many many people from the scientific world are saying we really need to have a public inquiry,” she told reporters at the National Assembly. “This idea is going to gain momentum because every day that’s going to go by we’re going to realize there’s information that was not given to Quebecers because they don’t want to tell the whole truth.


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“Our responsibility is to keep asking for an inquiry and keep showing all the reasons it’s a necessity in Quebec.”

The idea behind the inquiry isn’t to find a culprit, said Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé. Rather, it’s to understand what happened so Quebec can have an adequate response in the future.

“The response is still no from the government, which makes me wonder what they’re scared of,” she said.

Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said the Legault government has repeatedly obstructed the coroner’s inquest into CHSLD deaths.

He expressed an interest getting answers from seniors minister Marguerite Blais, who is currently on sick leave.

“If she isn’t an urgent medical situation, it would be very interesting to hear what he has to say,” he said.


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As for the government’s refusal to support a public inquiry, St-Pierre Plamondon highlighted current treasury board secretary Sonia LeBel’s role as the chief prosecutor of the Charbonneau Commission.

That inquiry was called because the Charest government was misleading about dealings in the construction sectors, he said, arguing the same logic applies to CHSLD deaths.

“Ask Sonia LeBel if it was a bad idea to have the Charbonneau Commission,” he told reporters. “It had a positive effect.”

11:40 a.m.

Anglade reacts to expanded private gatherings

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Speaking at the National Assembly on Wednesday, Quebec Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade reacted to the previous day’s announcement that Quebec will allow up to 20 vaccinated people to gather in homes starting Dec. 23.

She said the new maximum, which is double the current limit on private gatherings, is “as serious as Mr. Arruda says it is.”

“We have no choice to believe there is some scientific support for this decision,” she added. “I really hope there is.”

While Anglade suggested that scant evidence had been presented to support the decision, she professed an understanding for public health officials’ “need to make decisions based on what they have.”

11:00 a.m.

Quebec reports 1,367 new COVID-19 cases

Quebec’s seven-day rolling average of new infections continued climbing on Wednesday, reaching its highest point since mid-April as the province reported 1,367 new cases.


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A total of 458,426 infections have now been confirmed in the province since the first one was reported in February of 2020.

Quebec also announced that two more fatalities had been attributed to the virus, bringing the province’s death toll to 11,596.

The number of hospitalizations due to the virus increased by seven to 242, its highest level in more than a month. Of those patients, 59 are in intensive care — an increase of one.

On Tuesday, Quebec administered 28,496 shots.

The province has now administered 13,828,450 doses.

With the youth vaccination campaign underway and Quebec announcing the expansion of booster shot eligibility on Tuesday, the province has received 400,000 more vaccine doses for a total of 16,234,445 since the start of the campaign last year.


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Of the new cases reported in Quebec on Wednesday, 347 were in Montreal.

A total of 159,308 infections have now been confirmed in the Montreal region.

10:30 a.m.

Pfizer-BioNTech say three doses of vaccine neutralize Omicron

The companies said Wednesday  a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralize the new Omicron variant in a laboratory test and they could deliver an Omicron-based vaccine in March 2022 if needed.

In the first official statement from vaccine manufacturers on the likely efficacy of their shot against Omicron, BioNTech and Pfizer said that two vaccine doses resulted in significantly lower neutralizing antibodies but that a third dose of their vaccine increased the neutralizing antibodies by a factor of 25.


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Blood obtained from people that had their third booster shot a month ago neutralized the Omicron variant about as effectively as blood after two doses fought off the original virus first identified in China.

Read the full story here.

10:15 a.m.

Hospitalizations set to rise as Omicron reported in 57 countries: WHO

In its weekly epidemiological report, the WHO said more data was needed to assess the severity of disease caused by the Omicron variant and whether its mutations might reduce protection from vaccine-derived immunity.

As things stand, it’s been detected in 57 countries and “even if the severity is equal or potentially even lower than for Delta variant, it is expected that hospitalisations will increase if more people become infected.”


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Omicron is the fifth SARS-CoV-2 strain to be designated a variant of concern.

Read the full story here.

10:00 a.m.

Quebec is the province with the highest rate of COVID-19 in the last week

Here’s the federal government’s latest epidemiological update:

9:50 a.m.

One year and 8 billion shots later…

Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after becoming the first person in Britain to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital, at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the British history, in Coventry, Britain December 8, 2020. Britain is the first country in the world to start vaccinating people with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after becoming the first person in Britain to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital, at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the British history, in Coventry, Britain December 8, 2020. Britain is the first country in the world to start vaccinating people with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab. Photo by POOL /REUTERS

We’ve now passed the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccine dose being administered.

It went to an English grandmother named Margaret Keenan, who will soon celebrate her 92nd birthday.

Eight billion shots later, it is clear that vaccines have slashed hospitalizations and deaths in countries where they’ve been widely administered. In Europe alone, research shows they’ve saved about half a million lives among people age 60 and over.


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To date, 13,798,356 vaccine doses have been administered in Quebec.

Read the full story here.

9:40 a.m.

Liberals question high number of Conservative COVID vaccine exemptions

On Monday, The Canadian Press reported that four Conservative MPs have not set foot in the House of Commons for more than a week, since the adoption of a motion to cross-check medical exemption.

Government House leader Mark Holland told reporters on Tuesday that it’s very unlikely, if not impossible, that four elected Conservatives out of 119 benefit from a legitimate medical exemption. That is a much higher rate than the rate of recognized medical exemptions — between one and five out of 100,000 people — estimated by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.


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“This doesn’t add up, and it doesn’t send a good message to the country,” Holland said of the Conservative numbers. “We all have to get vaccinated; we (have) got to get this pandemic over.”

Read the full story here.

9:15 a.m.

A guide to COVID-19 vaccinations in Quebec

Local health authorities have set up mass vaccination sites across Montreal.

You can book appointments via  the Clic Santé website  or by phone at 1-877-644-4545.

Quebecers can also visit  walk-in AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer vaccine clinics  .

Here are the nuts and bolts of getting vaccinated  , by Katherine Wilton. Her guide includes the age groups targeted, how to book appointments, and addresses of vaccination centres.

9:15 a.m.

Here are the current pandemic restrictions in Montreal and Quebec

We are regularly updating our list of what services are open, closed or modified in Montreal and Quebec, including information on the curfew and other lockdown measures.


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You can read it here.

9:15 a.m.

Here’s where Montrealers can get tested today

Montrealers can be screened at  test centres  across the island.

For other parts of Quebec,  check out this page on the Quebec government’s site  .

8:30 a.m.

Sign up for our free nightly coronavirus newsletter

Stay informed with our daily email newsletter focused on local coronavirus coverage and other essential news, delivered directly to your email inbox by 7 p.m. on weekdays.

You can  sign up here  .



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