What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 28

·8 min read
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 28

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa reported 64 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death on Monday.

  • Some not-for-profit long-term care homes say they are facing financial uncertainty.

What's the latest?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) confirmed 64 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death Monday.

Health officials have also confirmed the city's first case of a new variant of COVID-19, first identified in the United Kingdom. The person recently travelled to Britain.

According to OPH, a person who lives with the individual has been identified as a high-risk contact. Both people have been self-isolating since the individual returned from overseas.

The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce says the virology laboratory at the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association has the capacity and resources to detect the new strain.

It says the the lab's tests aren't affected by the specific part of the virus that is different in the variant.

"While at this time, the overall consequences of this mutation are unknown, residents should continue to follow the same public health practices," a spokesperson for the task force wrote in an email.

The first two cases of the new strain in Canada were identified in a couple from Durham Region, east of Toronto, and reported by Ontario's ministry of health Saturday afternoon. The couple had been in contact with someone who had recently returned from the U.K..

WATCH | Expert discusses coronavirus variant's emergence in Canada

Ottawa Tourism estimates that $1.4 billion worth of visitor spending was lost due to COVID-19, which has so far led to the cancellations of almost a year's worth of festival programming and major events like Canada Day.

Two Ottawa entrepreneurs who saw their once growing businesses devastated at the beginning of the pandemic, but turned their year around with tasty treats and a giving spirit.

An Ontario Works employee has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the city. The staff member last worked Christmas Eve at the office at 2020 Walkley Rd.

The staff member is now in self-isolation but interacted with the public from behind a plexiglass barrier. Heath officials are notifying anyone who may have come in close contact with the person.

Across the river, western Quebec reported 49 new cases of the virus Monday and two more deaths.

How many cases are there?

OPH reported 64 new cases of the virus on Monday and one new death. Currently, 9,754 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 434 known active cases, 8,928 resolved cases and 392 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Public health officials have reported more than 17,300 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 15,400 resolved cases.

Ninety-two people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 107 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 and if they leave the province, to isolate for 14 days upon returning.

No indoor public events or indoor social gatherings will be 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.

Jonathan Dupaul/CBC
Jonathan Dupaul/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 post-secondary classes that can't be held virtually. Child care centres will be open, but day camps will not.

The province is offering support to Ottawa's small businesses and central residents.

Across southern and eastern Ontario the plan is for rules to be in place for four weeks, though that could be either shortened or lengthened depending on the data.

Ottawa's mayor and medical officer of health say Ottawa should have a two-week lockdown.

WATCH | Hotels facing 'an uphill battle' during normally busy holiday season

In western Quebec, now considered a red zone by that province, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential, including for Christmas. There is an exception for people living alone.

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

Quebec will shut down non-essential businesses today until at least Jan. 11 and has extended holiday school closures until Jan. 11.

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.

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.

Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada
Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada

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.

Canada and several European countries have temporarily halted flights from the U.K. in response to a new coronavirus strain.

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.

Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine has 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.

While details are scarce, it's expected the general public will be able to get vaccinated between April and September 2021.

Where to get tested

Many clinics have different hours around Christmas and 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. That no longer includes international travellers.

People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.

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

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.

Supplied by The Ottawa Hospital
Supplied by The Ottawa Hospital

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, with the virus still spreading in that community. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel, and its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back.

Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. 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