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A woman walks past a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal on April 6.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Quebec are expected to rise over the next two weeks, and there could be up to 265 new admissions a day within that time, the province’s health-care research institute said Wednesday.

But the Institut national d’excellence en sante et en services sociaux didn’t predict hospital capacity in the province would be overwhelmed.

“This is not, for now, a dramatic situation, but we will have to monitor the situation over the next weeks,” spokesperson Olivia Jacques said Wednesday in an interview.

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“We still have the capacity for regular (COVID-19) beds,” she said.

The number of COVID-19 intensive care patients is also expected to rise over the same period but is not expected to put significant pressure on the health-care system, the institute projected.

COVID-19 hospitalizations for the week ending April 1 increased by 18 per cent compared to the previous week.

Health officials on Wednesday reported a 61-patient rise in hospitalizations linked to the disease – the highest daily increase since the peak of the first Omicron-fuelled wave in mid-January. Health authorities said 1,540 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 after 226 patients were admitted in the past 24 hours and 165 were discharged.

There were 66 people listed in intensive care, a drop of three. Officials also reported 12 more deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Earlier on Wednesday, interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau told a legislative committee that abruptly removing the COVID-19 state of emergency would “kill people.” He spoke during hearings into Bill 28, which seeks to end the public health state of emergency while extending some of the government’s emergency powers until Dec. 31.

He said the government needs certain transitory powers to maintain the efficiency of the health system.

“If we stop all of this right now, we’re going to take huge risks and we’ll kill people,” he said. “We need to be realistic.”

Officials reported 3,761 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday based on PCR testing, which is limited to certain high-risk groups. They also reported 1,481 new positive results from take-home rapid tests uploaded by the public on an online portal.

Authorities said they administered 19,269 vaccine doses on Tuesday and that 53 per cent of Quebecers aged five and older have now had a third dose.

People aged 70 and older became eligible Wednesday to receive a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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