What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, April 5

·9 min read
People wearing masks line up outside a business in Ottawa. (Mathieu Theriault/CBC - image credit)
People wearing masks line up outside a business in Ottawa. (Mathieu Theriault/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa reported 237 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, one of the highest single-day totals of the pandemic so far.

  • Experts are urging the province to vaccinate essential workers as hospitals reach capacity.

  • Public health officials are reaching out to various communities in Ottawa to talk COVID-19 and vaccines in their own languages.

What's the latest?

Health officials in Ottawa reported 237 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. It's the second-highest, single-day total of the pandemic so far, only three fewer than Saturday's record high.

In western Quebec, 111 new cases were logged.

A new temporary COVID-19 assessment centre is opening its doors today at the Howard Darwin Centennial Arena. With a surge of cases across the city, the assessment centre is expected to alleviate some of the pressure on other centres for at least the next two weeks.

Ottawa's medical officer of health is providing a stark message around COVID-19 levels in the community, saying vaccinations won't be enough to flatten the curve if the virus continues to spread at the current rate.

As the third wave of the pandemic worsens, with COVID-19 cases soaring and critical care admissions reaching record highs, some health experts are calling on the province to quicken their vaccine distribution to combat unsustainable pressure facing hospitals and health centres.

As Ottawa's COVID-19 cases continue to climb, public health officials are reaching out to various communities to provide resources and answer questions about the illness and vaccines — in their own language.

With more time on their hands thanks to repetitive lockdowns and the monotony of virtual school, some Ottawa teens have decided to get creative with pandemic projects.

How many cases are there?

As of Monday, 18,260 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,815 known active cases, 15,977 resolved cases and 468 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 33,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 29,200 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 147 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 174.

WATCH | Canada surpasses 1 million COVID-19 cases

Akwesasne has had more than 270 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. It's had more than 550 cases when its southern section is added.

Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had nine, with one death.

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?

Eastern Ontario:

A top science advisor says Ontario's COVID-19 spread is out of control, while Ottawa Public Health has said its contact tracers can't keep up with the pace and its test sites lack capacity.

Those sorts of factors explain why Ontario is now in a provincewide shutdown, with rules that are similar but not identical to rules that were in place in grey-lockdown zones.

Gyms and personal care services must close, while restaurants are only available for takeout.

Non-essential businesses are able to open at 25 per cent capacity.

Indoor gatherings are not allowed, except for people who live together and the usual exception for those who live alone.

Outdoor gatherings can have a maximum of five distanced people.

People soak in the sun on Major's Hill Park in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday, April 3, 2021.
People soak in the sun on Major's Hill Park in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday, April 3, 2021.(Mathieu Theriault/CBC)

Religious services, weddings and funerals are capped at 15 per cent capacity indoors and as many people as can be physically distanced outdoors. Social gatherings like receptions fall under the rules for indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Schools won't be immediately affected, although some boards have told families to be ready in case they have to close classrooms again and return to full remote learning.

Local health units can also set their own rules, like what Kingston's is doing around gatherings, Prince Edward County's is doing around travel and Renfrew County's is doing around dining.

The new rules may replace some or all of those local rules.

Western Quebec

Quebec is now in its third wave. Premier François Legault said the situation is critical in Gatineau and is asking people there to only leave home when it's essential.

Schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses are closed until Monday, April 12 at 5 a.m. in Gatineau and in the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais, which almost entirely surrounds the city.

Private gatherings are banned, except for a person who lives alone to see one other household.

Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people. Places of worship can have a maximum of 25 people.

The curfew now starts at 8 p.m.

People wear face masks as they walk in a park in Quebec.
People wear face masks as they walk in a park in Quebec.(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The rest of the Outaouais is under red-zone rules, which closes restaurant dining rooms but keeps schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses open with restrictions.

Weddings and funerals can have a maximum of 25 people, while other religious services can go up to 250 distanced people.

The start of the curfew in this area remains at 9:30 p.m.

People across the Ottawa-Gatineau area are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only leave their immediate area for essential reasons.

Distancing and isolating

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

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. New coronavirus variants can be more contagious and are spreading quickly in some places.

WATCH | Doctor says Ontario needs to do more now to stop 3rd wave

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — as well as keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with, even with a mask on.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec.

OPH says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.

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

People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and have to pay for their stay in a quarantine hotel if entering by air.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Quebec and Ontario.

Vaccines

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in Canada.

Canada's task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second.

About 312,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including about 130,000 doses to Ottawa residents and about 45,000 in western Quebec.

Ontario's first doses of Phase 1 generally went to care home residents and health-care workers.

All health units in eastern Ontario are now vaccinating people aged 70 and older.

People can book appointments online or over the phone.

Phase 2 should include people with underlying health conditions in April, followed by people who can't work from home or are 60 and older in June.

Phase 3, slated to begin in July, will involve vaccinating anyone older than 16.

Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites for details.

Some Ottawans in certain neighbourhoods can check their eligibility online and call the city at 613-691-5505 for an appointment. So can Indigenous people over age 16.

WATCH | 'It pains me': Ontario doctor calls on government to protect essential workers

People who are above or turning age 55 can contact participating pharmacies for a vaccine appointment as part of a pilot project.

Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers.

The vaccination plan now covers people age 65 and older at western Quebec clinics. That will be followed by essential workers and finally the general public.

Officials expect everyone over the age of 65 to be vaccinated by mid-April and everyone who wants a shot to be able to get one by by Fête nationale on June 24.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. Pharmacists there will also be giving shots and people can book their appointments now in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.

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:

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.

Check with your area's health unit for clinic locations and hours. Some are offering pop-up or mobile clinics.

In western Quebec:

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

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki and Petite-Nation.

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

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only and a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. It's closed to non-essential visits until April 11.

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.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-1175. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and in Kitigan Zibi, 819-449-5593.

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.

For more information