Quebec COVID-19 hospitalizations fall below 200 as border with Ontario reopens

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MONTREAL — There were fewer than 200 people hospitalized in Quebec with COVID-19 on Wednesday, as the province's land border with Ontario officially reopened.

Overall, hospitalizations fell by 17 to 192, while the number of people in intensive care dropped by five to 45.

Quebec was reporting nearly 700 hospitalizations per day in mid-April, and over 1,800 per day at the height of the first wave in May 2020. Wednesday's hospital numbers are comparable to those recorded in late September.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said the hospitalization curve in the province is flattening and the numbers are heading in the right direction.

"The good news doesn't stop there," Dubé tweeted, noting that the province's long-term care homes reported no cases or deaths for another day.

Health officials reported 153 new infections and one additional death attributed to the novel coronavirus.

The numbers came as the borders between Ontario and Quebec reopened to non-essential traffic for the first time since April, when the province introduced sporadic checkpoints in order to limit the spread of contagious COVID-19 variants.

The removal of those checkpoints means Ontarians will now be accepted at restaurants in Quebec, and that Quebecers returning home from Ontario will no longer be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

The province also added another 87,000 vaccine doses to its tally on Wednesday, for a grand total of nearly seven million doses administered.

The Health Department said additional vaccine sites across the province are now offering walk-in appointments for first and second doses.

The sites are located at businesses in the greater Montreal and Quebec City areas as well as one in Kingsey Falls, in the Centre-du-Québec region.

While 78 per cent of Quebecers over the age of 12 have received a first dose, Dubé said Tuesday that vaccine rates among 18- to 39-year-olds is still below the 75 per cent goal for each age group.

Quebecers who have not yet received a proof of vaccination were also allowed to download one from the provincial portal as of Wednesday.

The Health Department reported there were technical issues with the site in the morning, but said those had been resolved as of midday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2021.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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