COVID-19 indicators in Montreal, epicentre of pandemic in Quebec, slowly improving

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Montreal's COVID-19 indicators are improving but the many health orders imposed on the metropolis are likely to remain for weeks to come, the city's public health director said Friday.

Health officials reported about 622 new daily infections between Jan. 17 and Jan. 21, down from a daily average of about 765 the week prior. But hospitals in the city remain close to capacity, Dr. Mylene Drouin told reporters, adding that public health officials are far from ready to lift most of the restrictions.

"Some of the confinement measures are probably going to stay," Drouin said. "I think what we're going to ask ourselves is what we can reintroduce that is less at-risk and help people find a normal life."

Drouin said there has been a sustained decrease this month in the number of new cases per 100,000 people, from 46 in December to 37 in January.

Quebec reported 1,631 new COVID-19 cases Friday and 88 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, as hospitalizations dropped for a third consecutive day. The Health Department said the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospital fell by 27, to 1,476, with 212 in intensive care, a drop of four. Hospitalizations have decreased by 74 over the last three reporting periods.

Quebec has imposed many health orders in recent weeks, asking people to telework, shutting non-essential businesses and imposing a nightly curfew between 8 pm.m and 5 a.m.

Of the 88 deaths reported Friday, 18 occurred in the past 24 hours. Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that the number of deaths reported every day in the province remains too high and he called on people to respect public health orders.

Quebec has reported a total of 250,491 infections and 9,361 deaths linked to the virus; 223,367 people are considered recovered.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press