Quebec recorded another jump in COVID-19 hospitalizations on Friday, with 427 new patients admitted and 247 discharged, for an increase of 180 over the previous day.
A provincial record 2,133 COVID-19 patients are now in hospital, 229 of which are being treated in intensive care — an increase of 22 since Thursday.
The province recorded 27 additional deaths attributed to the virus bringing the total since the start of the health crisis to 11,873.
On Thursday, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced that vaccine passports would be required to buy liquor and cannabis at SAQ and SQDC stores as of Jan. 18.
He also said the vaccine passport would be needed in the near future to access other non-essential businesses, such as places offering personal care services.
The move is meant to encourage those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, to get a first dose.
Dubé said it was necessary not only to protect the unvaccinated against themselves but to protect the health-care network which is dealing with pandemic-related staff shortages and increased demand.
Hospitals across Quebec have already reduced surgeries by about 50 per cent to make room for COVID-19 patients, according to Dr. Lucie Opatrny, head of the province’s hospital network.
During a press conference Thursday, she explained that about half the delayed procedures were being done in private clinics but that plan may not free enough beds for the rising number of COVID-19 patients.
The health minister said unvaccinated people represent about 10 per cent of Quebec adults but account for more than 50 per cent of COVID-19 intensive care patients.
In a post on Twitter Friday morning, Dubé said there had been a pickup in the number of people booking appointments for a first dose.
Dubé wrote in French that in only a few days, bookings jumped from 1,500 per day to more than 6,000 per day.
The province has also moved forward its calendar for third dose booster shots.
As of Friday, people aged 45 and over can start booking appointments on the Clic-Santé website.
To date, Quebec has recorded 712,358 infections including 16,176 in the last 24 hours and 577,427 recoveries.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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