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Quebec expands COVID-19 vaccinations to essential workers, chronically ill

Written by on April 7, 2021

MONTREAL — Quebec is expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines to Montrealers who are essential workers or living with chronic illnesses, Health Minister Christian Dube said Wednesday.

Essential workers in Montreal such as teachers, daycare workers, first responders and temporary foreign workers can start booking vaccine appointments on Friday. Residents with chronic illnesses and who are under the age of 60 can start getting vaccinated in hospital on Monday.

The two new priority groups represent about 300,000 people in Montreal, Dube told reporters.

All Quebecers over 60 will be eligible for vaccinations starting Thursday, Dube said, adding that the government’s goal is to offer everyone in that age bracket one dose by the end of the month. Montrealers over 60 have been able to book vaccine appointments since March 21.

Also Thursday, the province will begin allowing walk-ins at mass vaccination sites for those 55 and older wanting to get an Oxford-AstraZeneca shot. Dube said the province is still on track to reach its goal of giving every adult in the province a first dose by June 24.

Earlier on Wednesday, Quebec reported 1,270 new COVID-19 infections and a 29-patient rise in hospitalizations related to the disease. Health officials said 543 people were in hospital, including 123 people in intensive care, a rise of two.

Officials also reported eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one within the past 24 hours. The province administered 43,631 shots of vaccine Tuesday, for a total of 1,636,310; it said nearly 20 per cent of the population has received at least one dose.

Meanwhile, Quebec’s workplace health and safety board said Wednesday medical masks must be worn at all times in indoor workplaces. The new health order enters into effect Thursday and applies across the province. 

The board says in the case of outdoor work, a medical mask will be required when a two-metre distance can’t be respected between employees.

Premier Francois Legault on Tuesday ordered gyms closed in red zones, such as Montreal, and limited capacity at places of worship to 25 people. Beginning next Monday, students in grades 9, 10 and 11 will attend school on alternate days in red zones, and extracurricular activities are cancelled. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2021.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press