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Quebec tops 1,600 new cases as third COVID-19 wave deepens

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Quebec is continuing to see a rise in COVID-19 infections after the province reported 1,609 new cases Thursday.It is the highest number of new daily cases recorded since at least January, at the peak of the second wave of the health crisis.There are nine additional deaths, including one in the past 24 hours. The other pandemic-related fatalities were retroactively added to the growing death tally.Hospitalizations attributed to the novel coronavirus rose by 23 to 566. This includes nine more patients in intensive care units, for a total of 132.READ MORE: ‘I’m here to stay alive’: Montrealers over 55 line up for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccineWhen it comes to vaccinations, 47,769 shots were given Wednesday. The province has administered 1,685,046 vaccines to date, the majority of which are a first dose. Trending Stories

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The government has now expanded its inoculation campaign to include essential workers and those with chronic illnesses in Montreal. The minimum age requirement has been lowered to 60 while anyone who is 55 and older can go to a walk-in clinic for an AstraZeneca vaccine.Quebec’s caseload stands at 321,411 while the number of recoveries has surpassed 299,000. The health crisis has killed 10,718 people over the last 13 months.Premier François Legault is expected to address the evolving third wave of the pandemic at 5 p.m. in Montreal. He will be joined by Health Minister Christian Dubé and Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of Quebec public health.READ MORE: Montreal bracing for third wave as COVID-19 cases linked to variants increase in the cityThe update comes as tightened measures are potentially set to end next week for Quebec City and other regions, where cases have spiked. Schools and non-essential businesses are closed in those areas.The government also issued new restrictions when it comes to wearing masks. Medical masks are mandatory in all workplaces.As of Thursday, masks are also now obligatory for outdoor activities in groups in designated red and orange zones.

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