Quebec announced 187 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, which marks the largest daily increase to its total case count since June 8.
The province has now reported over 100 cases on six straight occasions. Before the recent stretch, it had recorded a triple-digit increase on 14 of its last 18 occasions.
“We’re approaching a possibly critical threshold,” said Quebec Premier François Legault on Thursday.
On Aug. 25, health minister Christian Dubé said that Quebec should not go beyond 160 cases per day, which works out to about 20 cases per one million residents.
Legault on Thursday said Dubé’s statistics are “an objective,” but it doesn’t mean that the province will make an “automatic” return to lockdowns if the target is missed. Instead, he reminded the public that “there are plenty of other factors to consider. … If the major part of the cases were in bars, the decision would be easy to take.”
Legault said that he is not planning on changing the province’s COVID-19 restrictions at the moment. If restrictions do need to be put in place, they will be imposed on sub-regions, and not the entire province.
As of late, Canada’s worst-hit province has seen spikes in the Quebec City region, the Eastern Townships and the greater Montreal region, said Legault.
Outbreaks have been reported throughout the province; that includes schools ever since they opened a week ago Thursday.
Most recently, a karaoke bar outbreak in Quebec City has led to 40 patrons testing positive, which has resulted in secondary spread to students at three schools. On Thursday, TVA Nouvelles also reported that two small groups of Montreal elementary school students are in self-isolation at home, because they were in contact with COVID-19 patients.
Legault said that the province’s back-to-school plan is going as planned. Outbreaks were expected, but the province has not had to close an entire school due to an outbreak, thanks to its “classroom bubble” concept.
On Thursday, a group of Quebec parents went to court to compel the Education Department to grant an online learning option for all families. At the moment, in-class learning is mandatory, except for those with a medical exception.
The province has yet to release statistics on the amount of cases in schools among staff and students, but the premier said that the public can expect some in the upcoming days.
“So far it’s under control, but we have to be careful,” said Legault.
In the past, Legault has said that he won’t rule out closing barrs or banning activities such as karaoke if the spread of COVID-19 continues at an alarming rate.
Throughout the pandemic, Quebec has had the most cases (62,933) and deaths (5,767) of all the Canadian jurisdictions. On Thursday, the province announced three more fatalities, but that they all occurred before Aug. 27.
Quebec also has the most currently infected patients with 1,551. According to data by B.C.’s Ministry of Health, Quebec has the highest infection rate per one million people of all the provinces.