What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, Nov. 26

·8 min read
A lone pedestrian crosses O'Connor Street in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Andrew Lee/CBC - image credit)
A lone pedestrian crosses O'Connor Street in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Lee/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Canada is limiting travel from some countries as a result.

  • The Kingston area has tightened private indoor gathering rules.

What's the latest?

The World Health Organization has declared the new coronavirus variant identified in South Africa as a variant of concern and named it Omicron.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced Friday Canada will limit travel from seven countries in southern Africa in response, along with some new testing and quarantine requirements.

WATCH LIVE | A federal update on Omicron:

Canadian health experts say residents should not be alarmed and it would take time to assess the potential impact of the variant, adding there's no evidence that existing COVID-19 vaccines wouldn't continue to be effective.

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health is lowering the indoor private gathering limit to 10 people and making hosts share guest names and contact information with the health unit upon request. That area has broken pandemic case and hospitalization records this month.

Ottawa Public Health reported 47 more COVID-19 cases Friday. Hastings Prince Edward Public Health reported a COVID-19 death and a still-growing active case count.

How many cases are there?

As of Friday, Ottawa has had 31,837 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are 318 known active cases, while 30,902 cases are considered resolved and 617 people have died from the illness.

Ottawa-Gatineau area confirmed COVID-19 cases

Public health officials have reported more than 59,300 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 57,400 cases now resolved. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 230 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 223.

Akwesasne has had more than 1,100 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 14 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has had 34 cases and one death. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 24 cases and one death. Pikwakanagan hasn't had any cases.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch.

What are the rules?

Eastern Ontario:

There are no capacity restrictions for most places that require proof of vaccination, nor for outdoor organized events.

The plan is to lift public health measures in stages until March 2022, with the next step paused until at least mid-December as officials monitor some rising trends.

Private gathering limits are 25 people inside and 100 people outside.

WATCH | How to stay safe during the pandemic spike in cyberattacks:

Health units can change rules — Renfrew County has done that for isolation and the Kingston area for indoor gatherings, school symptoms and indoor sports.

The province's vaccine passport is required for people age 12 and up in many public places. It won't be required for younger kids now that they're eligible for a dose. People can show paper, PDF or QR code proof.

Western Quebec

Ten people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports. There are no capacity limits for Quebec venues with assigned seats and restaurants.

Quebec Premier François Legault says the more people respect current gathering rules, the more likely it is they can be loosened for the holidays.

A vaccine passport is in place for most people age 13 and up in many public spaces. People can use an app or show paper proof. It won't apply to younger kids.

Other groups in the region are also coming out with their own COVID-19 vaccine policies, including for staff and visitors.

What can I do?

Prevention

COVID-19 primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine.

This means it is important to take precautions such as staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and surfaces clean and considering distancing from anyone you don't live with.

Masks, preferably medical or surgical ones, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended in crowded outdoor areas.

Ian Black/CBC
Ian Black/CBC

When and how long to self-isolate can vary in Quebec and Ontario and by vaccination status.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands and have supplies in case they need to isolate.

Travel

Travellers must now be vaccinated to board a plane, train or marine vessel in Canada. Partially vaccinated travellers can show proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test until Monday, when that rule ends.

People have to be fully vaccinated, tested and pre-approved to enter Canada. Rules for trips under 72 hours change on Tuesday and the list of approved vaccines has expanded. Rules for younger kids also change now that they're eligible for a vaccine.

The U.S. requires all travellers — land, air and water — to be fully vaccinated. Some people with mixed doses will be allowed and it won't require a recent test.

The prime minister said in late October he's "very confident" countries around the world will accept provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.

Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press
Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

Vaccines

Vaccines curb the spread of all variants of COVID-19 and go a long way toward avoiding deaths and hospitalizations, without offering total protection. Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada.

Health Canada has approved Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for children as young as five. Doses for kids age five to 11 will be given at least eight weeks apart in both local provinces.

It's possible even younger children could have an approved vaccine early in 2022, according to Canada's chief public health officer.

Ontario and Quebec are giving certain groups third doses.

There have been more than 3.6 million COVID-19 first, second and third vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million residents.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating anyone born in 2016 and earlier.

People can look for provincial appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.

Local health units have some flexibility, so check their websites for details. They offer doses on short notice as campaigns look to fill gaps in vaccine coverage and cover expanded eligibility.

Pharmacies and some family doctors offer vaccines through their own booking systems.

The province has recommended people under 24 get the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine because the Moderna Spikevax vaccine brings a mild risk of a rare heart condition.

Western Quebec

Anyone who is five and older can get an appointment or visit a permanent or mobile walk-in clinic.

Clinics for newly eligible children will operate in schools and kids will need written consent from a parent to be vaccinated there.

Siblings can be booked together in a single time slot and parents can check a box to signal if their child is nervous about the process.

WATCH | How vaccines can help avoid a fifth COVID-19 wave:

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, headache, vomiting and loss of taste or smell.

"Long-haul" symptoms can last for months.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

In eastern Ontario:

Ontario says to get tested by making an appointment at a clinic if you fit certain criteria. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Select pharmacies can now test people with symptoms, along with certain people without symptoms.

Rapid and take-home tests are available in some places, including pharmacies and some child-care settings when risk is high. A positive test will trigger a follow-up test.

Officials in some areas say they're seeing more people coming to its sites after having symptoms for several days and delaying getting tested, sometimes spreading COVID in the meantime.

Travellers who need a test have local options to pay for one.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

People can make an appointment or see if they're near a walk-in option online. They can also call 1-877-644-4545 with questions during hours the line is running.

Gargle tests are being offered in some places instead of a swab.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are available in all Quebec preschools and elementary schools.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario.

Akwesasne has COVID-19 test and vaccine clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341.

People in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg can call the health centre at 819-449-5593 for a test or vaccine; email is another option for vaccine booking.

Tests are available in Pikwàkanagàn by calling 613-625-1175 and vaccines (including third doses) at 613-625-2259 extension 225 or by email.

Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should watch the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.

Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

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