What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, May 1

·9 min read
A reflection of a person cycling on Albert Street in downtown Ottawa on April 28, 2021. (Andrew Lee/CBC - image credit)
A reflection of a person cycling on Albert Street in downtown Ottawa on April 28, 2021. (Andrew Lee/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Another 156 COVID-19 cases were confirmed Saturday in Ottawa, with 70 new cases in the Outaouais.

  • Emergency rooms are over capacity at some Outaouais hospitals.

What's the latest?

Health officials in Ottawa reported 156 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, as well as three more deaths.

In western Quebec, 70 new cases were confirmed.

The health authority for the Outaouais says it's seeing emergency rooms in the region becoming overrun, with some well-over capacity in the last week.

CBC Ottawa has heard from hundreds of residents who've registered for a vaccine through a pharmacy and never heard back, including many in the 55-and-over cohort. They're now wondering what's happened.

Eleven years ago, Jason McNamara snapped his prized photo of the Port Theatre in Cornwall, Ont. He's now offering prints in exchange for a donation to the indie cinema, which has been hit hard by COVID-19.

Health Canada is holding off on distributing Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine after it became clear the doses that arrived in the country on Wednesday were processed in the same U.S. plant that's been mired in quality-control problems.

How many cases are there?

The region is in a record-breaking third wave of the pandemic that includes more dangerous coronavirus variants, straining contact tracing and pushing hospitals past their limits.

As of Saturday, 24,344 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,960 known active cases, 21,877 resolved cases and 507 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 44,500 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 40,500 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 177 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 197.

Akwesasne has had more than 640 residents test positive and 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 11, with one death. Pikwakanagan hasn't had any.

The transfer of COVID-19 patients from other regions to Ottawa hospitals continues.

On Friday, Ottawa hospitals said there were 65 patients receiving critical care in the city. According to Ottawa Public Health, 29 of those patients are Ottawa residents.

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:

Ontario is under a stay-at-home order until at least May 20.

People can only leave home for essential reasons such as getting groceries, seeking health care and exercising. They're asked to only leave their immediate area or province if absolutely necessary.

The vast majority of gatherings are prohibited, with exceptions that include small activities with households and small religious services.

Golf courses and tennis and basketball courts are among the shuttered recreation venues.

Police checkpoints are set up between Ontario and Quebec, but are not running 24/7. Officers in Ontario have the power to stop and question people if they believe they've gathered illegally.

Ontario has indefinitely moved to online learning. Daycares remain open.

Most non-essential businesses can only offer curbside pickup. Access to malls is restricted and big-box stores can only sell essential items.

Gyms and personal care services are closed, while restaurants are only available for takeout and delivery.

Local health units and communities can also set their own rules, as Ottawa's is doing around playgrounds, Prince Edward County's is doing around travel and Kingston is doing for Breakwater Park.

Western Quebec

Premier François Legault has 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 at least May 10 in the Outaouais.

Private gatherings are banned, except for a person who lives alone seeing one other household. Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people.

The curfew is from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

People there 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 — under threat of a fine if they go to a yellow or green zone.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Coronavirus variants of concern are more contagious and are taking over.

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 — 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.

A poster pleads with people to wear a mask in downtown Ottawa on April 29, 2021.
A poster pleads with people to wear a mask in downtown Ottawa on April 29, 2021.(Christian Patry/CBC)

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.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems 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. Ontario wants stronger land border rules.

Direct flights from India and Pakistan are banned until late May.

Vaccines

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada. Delivery of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine to the provinces should start this week.

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

More than 760,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including about 350,000 doses to Ottawa residents and about 145,000 in western Quebec.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating people age 55 and older at their clinics. People can book appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.

The province has opened up appointments for people age 45 and up in Ottawa's K1T, K1V and K2V "hot spot" postal codes.

Separately, some Ottawans in priority neighbourhoods age 50 and up and Indigenous people above age 16 can check their eligibility online and make an appointment through the city for a pop-up clinic.

People who are 40 or will be this year can contact participating pharmacies for a vaccine appointment. Pharmacies can offer walk-in vaccines if they wish.

Ontario has a staggered rollout plan to expand its vaccination campaign week-by-week, allowing everyone over age 18 to make an appointment starting the week of May 24.

The next expansion will be May 3 to include all people age 50 to 54, people as young as age 18 in hot spots, all people with "high-risk" health conditions and more people who can't work from home, including education workers.

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

Western Quebec

Quebec's vaccination plan covers people age 45 and older in the Outaouais, along with essential workers and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, including pregnancy.

It's also doing a staggered expansion, reaching down to people age 18 and above as of May 14. Its next local expansion will be to people age 40 to 44 on May 5.

Officials expect 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 have started giving shots with appointments through the province.

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. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours; Ottawa is making some changes as demand slightly eases.

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.

A mask mural painted in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A mask mural painted in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic.(Christian Patry/CBC)

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms, their contacts and people who have been told to get tested.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment and check wait times online.

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

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 a COVID-19 test site by appointment only and a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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.

Tyendinaga's council is asking people not to travel there to camp or fish.

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