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

·7 min read

Recent developments:

What's the latest?

Nearly 600 residents and staff at CHSLD Lionel-Émond in Gatineau, Que., one of the largest long-term care facilities in the Outaouais, should begin receiving a COVID-19 vaccine next week, according to the region's public health authority.

In Ottawa, public health officials confirmed another 46 cases of the illness Saturday, with 52 more cases considered resolved.

Another five inmates at Joyceville Institution in northeast Kingston, Ont., have contracted COVID-19. The prison is dealing with a serious outbreak, with 93 current or recent inmates having tested positive as of Saturday afternoon.

One Ottawa man is trying to share hope with those less fortunate during the pandemic, in the form of hot pizza.

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, 9,314 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 391 known active cases, 8,534 resolved cases and 389 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Public health officials have reported more than 16,100 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 14,200 resolved cases.

Ninety-one people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 97 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?

Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Ontario says this will apply through December's holidays.

Its health officials say they recognize some people are unable or unwilling to spend the holidays alone for reasons such as their mental health. If that's the case, they have advice on how to take the fewest risks possible.

Health units may have more specific advice for their residents.

Ottawa and the EOHU are in the orange zone of Ontario's five-colour pandemic scale, the highest level that allows live music, movie theatres, team sports and organized events up to 50 people inside and 100 outside.

Three other eastern Ontario health units are under yellow zone restrictions:

  • The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.

  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health.

  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.

That means restaurant hours, table limits and rules around capacity fall somewhere between those in place in Ottawa and Renfrew County, which is currently green, the lowest level.

Changes are usually announced on Fridays.

The province says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.

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 between Dec. 25 and Jan. 11 and has extended holiday school closures until Jan. 11.

Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout Quebec.

What about schools?

There have been more than 230 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:

Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.

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.

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.

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 are now being given to health-care workers in Ottawa as part of a pilot project. Western Quebec's first COVID-19 vaccines will be administered at CHSLD Lionel-Émond in Gatineau next week.

While details are scarce between now and then, it's expected the general public can get vaccinated between April and September 2021.

Where to get tested

Note that 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.

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