Montreal hospitals at risk of being overrun by mid-January: Quebec Institute of Health

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MONTREAL -- As hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to rise, an expert opinion says that hospitals in Montreal could become overrun by mid-January.

The Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) wrote this week that Montreal and neighbouring regions are seeing increased cases five times greater than in other areas of Quebec.

"The increase in new projected hospitalizations is progressing even more markedly," the report from the institute reads. "Projections predict a significant increase in bed occupancy in the coming weeks. Unlike in previous weeks, an overrun of dedicated capacities cannot be ruled out, especially as half of the designated beds are already occupied."

Montreal averaged a 759 daily novel coronavirus case increase for the week leading up to Christmas and recorded 3,788 total deaths as of Dec. 24. (Quebec is not releasing its daily updates on the state of the pandemic Saturday).

INESSS reports that the greatest increase in cases is in the high-risk demographic of those aged 80 or over (+28 per cent), and that the number of planned hospitalizations has increased by more than 50 per cent over the past month.

"For Montreal and its neighbouring regions, this number has more than doubled and now represents nearly two-thirds of projected hospitalizations in Quebec," INESSS says.

The institute adds that between Dec. 14 and 20, 717 cases out of the new ones are at a high risk of hospitalizations, 19 per cent more than the previous week.

INESSS reports that other regions the projected hospitalizations remain stable.

"However, two-thirds of the beds designated for COVID-19 patients are currently occupied," INESSS says. "Exceedances of planned limits still cannot be ruled out in some hospitals. The risk of an increase in hospital outbreaks remains a significant concern and could reduce the flexibility of affected hospitals."

The institute adds, however, that the projections do not take into account the restrictions Quebec put in place Dec. 25 that run to Jan. 11.

As of Dec. 24, there were 1,052 people receiving treatment in Quebec hospitals for COVID-19 including 146 people in the intensive care ward.