What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 4

·7 min read
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 4

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa officials reported 184 cases on Sunday, the highest single-day total of the pandemic

  • Most elementary and secondary students in the province will return to virtual classrooms today.

What's the latest?

Ottawa reported a record-high 184 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The new case numbers surpass the city's previous record set on Oct. 8, when the nation's capital recorded 183 cases.

While no new deaths were recorded, several key indicators have been rising over the past week or so, including the number of active cases, the number of new infections generated by a single case and the test positivity rate.

Ontario reported 2,964 cases on Sunday and 25 additional deaths.

Today is the first day of school after the holidays for students across eastern Ontario, but most won't be returning to the classroom for at least another week because of the province-wide lockdown. Ottawa area elementary schools will be closed for in-class learning until at least Jan. 11 while secondary schools will remain closed until Jan. 25. Most schools will transition students to virtual learning in the interim.

Data from tech giant Google reveals what people in Ottawa were searching for online during the pandemic. The data show a major decrease in public transit-related searches compared to last year, an increase in requests for cycling directions and a spike in searches for takeout food options — particularly, Asian food.

How many cases are there?

In Ottawa, 10,368 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There are 764 known active cases, 9,212 resolved cases and 392 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Public health officials have reported more than 18,400 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 16,200 resolved cases.

Ninety-two people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 119 people have died in western Quebec.

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 can I do?

With Ontario's lockdown measures now in effect, the Ontario government says people need to stop gathering and moving across the province to avoid even more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths — including in areas with low case counts.

People are asked to only leave home when they need to, stay in their health unit and if they leave the province, to isolate for 14 days upon returning.

No indoor public events or indoor social gatherings are allowed, except with members of the same household or one other home for people who live alone.

Outdoor gatherings can't have more than 10 people and should be distanced and masked. Ottawa is now requiring masks around its city-run outdoor rinks and recommending them on the ice.

Andrew Lee/CBC
Andrew Lee/CBC

In-person shopping will be limited to essential businesses. Restaurants and non-essential businesses can offer curbside pickup and delivery.

Schools won't immediately return with in-person classes, except for some post-secondary classes. Child-care centres will be open, but day camps will not.

The plan is for the rules to be in place until Jan. 23, although that could change for each health unit depending on the data.

In the red zone of western Quebec, health officials are also asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential with an exception for people living alone to visit one other home.

Quebec has shut down non-essential businesses until at least Jan. 11 and has extended holiday school closures until the same date.

Being in the red means no indoor dining at restaurants, while gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.

Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout Quebec.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.

Health officials have confirmed Ottawa's first case of a new variant of COVID-19, first identified in the United Kingdom.

People can be contagious without symptoms.

This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.

Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.

Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands.

Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.

WATCH | Canadian COVID-19 testing rules for air travellers kick in Jan. 7

Symptoms and vaccines

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

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

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

The first COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by Health Canada.

Doses have been given to health-care workers in Ottawa as part of a pilot project and at CHSLD Lionel-Émond in Gatineau.

In Ontario, it's expected that will expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in April, with vaccines widely available to the public in August.

WATCH | U.K. hospitals in 'eye of the storm'

Where to get tested

Many clinics have different hours around New Year's Day, with more information in the links below.

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.

Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.

Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters
Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester.

People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.

Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. Another site is in Napanee.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test clinic visiting smaller communities or people with problems getting to a site.

Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.

They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne had most of its known COVID-19 cases in November, but still has an active case. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel, and its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back.

It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.

Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its first confirmed case in November and Kitigan Zibi logged its first in mid-December.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259.

Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.

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

For more information