What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Jan. 9

·8 min read
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Jan. 9

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa reports a record-breaking 234 newly confirmed cases on Saturday.

  • New coronavirus variant could dominate in Ontario by next month, new model suggests.

  • A curfew begins at 8 p.m. tonight in Gatineau and the rest of western Quebec.

What's the latest?

Health officials reported 234 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday, the second day in a row Ottawa has logged a record-setting daily total.

No new deaths were recorded, however.

The Ontario government is both expanding and extending a program that offers free emergency child care to front-line workers.

New modelling suggests the new highly-transmissible coronavirus variant could — in the worst-case scenario — become the dominant strain in Ontario as soon as late February, well before mass vaccinations are set to begin in April.

The head of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario supports the provincial government's decision to keep elementary students in southern Ontario home longer, but says the measures could have been avoided.

How many cases are there?

In Ottawa, 11,194 people have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,104 known active cases, 9,695 resolved cases and 395 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Public health officials have reported more than 20,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 17,200 resolved cases.

Ninety-four people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 133 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?

Ontario says people need to stop gathering and moving across the province to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths — including in areas with low case counts.

Ottawa Public Health says its COVID-19 spread is as high as it's ever seen, with most of the spread from people seeing others they don't live with and workplaces not following mask and distancing guidance.

Cases have also spiked in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), where its medical officer of health says most have been preventable by following guidance.

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 events or private gatherings are allowed, except with people who live together or one other home for people living alone.

Outdoor gatherings can't have more than 10 people and should be distanced. Ottawa's new rules for outdoor recreation are now in effect.

In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery.

Schools start with at-home learning, except for some post-secondary classes and students with special needs who can't learn remotely. Child-care centres are open, day camps are not.

WATCH | President of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario says it's difficult to believe children will be back in school even in two weeks:

The rules are in place in eastern Ontario until Jan. 23, although that could change for each health unit depending on the data.

Western Quebec residents are asked not to leave home unless it's essential with an exception for people living alone to visit one other home.

Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew begins today and being from Ontario is not one of the exceptions.

While most gatherings are prohibited, some outdoor activities are allowed, as long as they're done with members of a household and abide by health guidelines.

Quebec has shut down non-essential businesses and has extended holiday secondary school closures until Jan. 18. Elementary school students can go back Monday.

There is 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.

The plan is for these rules to be in place until Feb. 8.

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 they have symptoms, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, only socializing outdoors 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.

Ottawa Public Health says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.

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 Ontario and Quebec.

Anyone returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

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.

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 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.

COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in Ottawa and western Quebec. Vaccinations start in Hawkesbury next week.

About 10,000 Ottawa residents have received at least one dose as of Jan. 6. As of Jan. 8, western Quebec has given nearly 2,300 doses.

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.

Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by August.

Quebec has a somewhat controversial policy of giving a single dose to as many people as possible rather than giving fewer people two doses.

Where to get tested

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.

In Ottawa, that criteria includes December travel from or through South Africa or the U.K. or close contact with someone that had.

People without symptoms but 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 10 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. The Alexandria and Casselman sites temporarily close next week.

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

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

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic for 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 any health questions Test clinic locations are posted weekly.

In western Quebec:

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

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 Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge 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 had more than 70 residents on the Canadian side of the border test positive and one death. More than 160 people have tested positive across the community.

Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and 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 only confirmed case in November. Kitigan Zibi logged its first in mid-December and has had more since.

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