Staff are being pulled from elsewhere to cover shortages at the Papineau hospital.
What's the latest?
Ontario is making several changes that include moving schools online for at least two weeks, temporarily closing indoor dining, gyms and museums as of Wednesday and pausing non-urgent medical procedures.
Public health officials said today the Omicron variant threatens to overwhelm the province's health-care system and could force 20 to 30 per cent of the province's working population into isolation in the coming weeks.
There are currently 24 Ottawa residents with COVID-19 in local hospitals, three more than reported Sunday and more than double the 10 reported one week ago. Four people with COVID-19 remain in an ICU.
The wider region's COVID hospitalization count has doubled in less than two weeks to more than 110 patients.
Western Quebec health authority CISSSO is pausing emergency care in Saint-André-Avellin from Jan. 5 to 28 to send staff about 40 kilometres away to the hospital in Papineau, which it says is having a major staff shortage because of the Omicron variant.
The Ottawa Senators have placed defenceman Thomas Chabot, forwards Zach Sanford and Chris Tierney, and assistant coach Bob Jones in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol.
How many cases are there?
Testing can't meet demand during the Omicron surge, meaning some people with COVID-19 won't be reflected in the case count. Numbers such as hospitalizations and wastewater monitoring can help fill in some of the grey areas.
As of Monday, Ottawa has had 45,495 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are 8,952 known active cases, 35,919 cases are considered resolved and 624 people have died from the illness.
Ottawa-Gatineau area confirmed COVID-19 cases
The city's hospitalizations have been rising since around Christmas.
Local public health officials have reported nearly 94,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 70,000 cases now resolved.
In eastern Ontario outside of Ottawa, 253 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 224.
Akwesasne has had about 1,400 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 18 deaths between its northern and southern sections.
What are the rules?
The province's private gathering limits drop to five people indoors and 10 outside as of Wednesday until at least Jan. 26. Indoor dining, gyms and museums are also closed as of Wednesday, when businesses and religious services can reach 50 per cent capacity.
In-person learning is paused until Jan. 17.
People can prove their vaccine status with a paper document, a PDF file or a QR code. These documents have to have a QR code as of tomorrow and medical exemptions have to have one by next Monday, Jan. 10.
Indoor gatherings involving more than one household bubble are now prohibited, one of several new rules that came into effect New Year's Eve.
The provincial curfew is also back and people outside between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. without a valid reason may face fines.
WATCH | Protests against Quebec's provincewide curfew:
Restaurant dining rooms must also now close, as well as places of worship — although there are exceptions for small funerals. Indoor sports have also been cancelled.
All schools are closed to in-person learning until Jan. 17.
A vaccine passport is in place for most people age 13 and up in many public spaces. It won't apply to younger kids. People can use an app or show paper proof.
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?
Current evidence suggests the dominant Omicron variant is more contagious than other types of the novel coronavirus, but generally less deadly for vaccinated people without underlying conditions. That level of spread puts vulnerable people at risk and is making staffing a challenge in many sectors.
WATCH | The increasing burden on hospitals:
Health officials say under Omicron, people should recommit to the fundamentals of getting vaccinated, staying home when sick and seeing as few people in person as possible.
Masks, preferably medical ones, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and for people in Quebec age 10 and up. They're generally recommended in crowded outdoor areas and some communities such as Ottawa have made them mandatory in some outdoor areas.
WATCH | The differences in isolation rules:
Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands and have supplies in case they need to isolate.
Travellers older than 12 years and four months must now be fully vaccinated to board a plane, train or marine vessel in Canada.
The federal government is officially advising against non-essential international travel.
The U.S. requires everyone crossing a land, air or water border to be fully vaccinated. People flying there will need proof of a negative COVID test within a day of departure.
The hope is that other countries will accept provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.
Health Canada has approved Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for children as young as five. Both local provinces generally recommend doses for kids age five to 11 be given at least eight weeks apart, with limited exceptions.
Everyone 18 and older in Ontario can now try to book third shots, though local resources don't always meet demand. The province has also shortened the interval required between second and third doses to 84 days.
People who are 60 and older can receive a third dose in Quebec, along with those who have certain health conditions. That is expanding in stages by age until Jan. 21, with the next coming Tuesday down to age 55.
There have been more than 4.4 million COVID-19 first, second and third vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million residents.
Pharmacies and some family doctors offer vaccines through their own booking systems.
Clinics for children are 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.
Symptoms and testing
"Long-haul" symptoms can last for months.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
In eastern Ontario:
Ontario made significant testing changes at the end of December because of the surge in Omicron variant cases. Only high-risk individuals who are symptomatic or who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can get a PCR test, while others should assume they have COVID if they have symptoms.
Qualified people can check with their health unit for clinic locations and hours.
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.
Children and staff in daycares who have been in contact with a positive case at the daycare don't have to isolate or get tested and will be able to remain in the centre if they have no symptoms.
People have to make an appointment, as walk-in tests currently aren't available. They can also call 1-877-644-4545 with questions during hours the line is running.
Gargle tests are offered in some places instead of a swab.
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. Residents can call that number to log a rapid test result.
People in Pikwàkanagàn can call a COVID-19 hotline at 613-401-0428 for updates on its changing response now that it has its first confirmed cases.
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.