Indigenous services minister says Quebec premier should show 'humanity' to homeless

Quebec Premier François Legault calls for ban on non-essential travel

Health officials say 1,735 more people have recovered from COVID-19, for a total of 221,327; they say there are 18,253 active reported cases of the disease across the province.

Public health also reports 2,442,878 negative cases, with 219,592 being deemed "recoveries".

Earlier this week, Legault urged Justin Trudeau and the federal government to ban all non-essential worldwide flights, including people travelling on vacation and to all-inclusive resorts. "Even if the number of cases is decreasing, as long as the number of hospitalizations is going to be that high, we can not think, in the coming weeks, that we will reopen everything and that we will be able to allow contacts", said Legault in a press conference.

Premier François Legault put forward that proposal Thursday, saying he would be making the pitch to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a conference call later in the day.

As a result, Legault said, surgeries that have been postponed can not be rescheduled just yet - the strain on the system is too great. "Robocalls are not sufficient" to ensure that people are following the rules, he said.

"It is time to act", the premier said, arguing that if the federal government could close the borders in the spring, they can do it again now. While the pacing of vaccination is likely to slow down in the coming weeks due to a reduction in supply from Pfizer, Dubé said that the province is still confident it can reach 225,000 doses administered by February 8, a target that has been revised from the original 250,000.

Quebec is heading in the right direction, he said.

The Health Department said it conducted 10,514 inoculations on Monday and has now given 164,053 people the first dose of vaccine.

Legault said that as of Thursday, the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations have been completed in long-term care homes (CHSLDs) across the province. On Tuesday, the premier had refused to grant a request from Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante to exempt the homeless from Quebec's nightly 8 p.m. curfew. But the premier said the number of hospitalizations will have to come down before he considers lifting restrictions.

"This is only one week, but it looks as if the measures are starting to pay off", he said, encouraging the population to remain vigilant in light of the fact that the trend remains stable with regard to hospitalizations, meaning that the health network remains under great pressure.

Legault made the comments at a press conference at which he also thanked Quebecers for helping reduce the number of new cases in recent days.

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