What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, March 14

·8 min read
A City of Ottawa bylaw officer uses a megaphone to instruct people at the Nepean Sportsplex vaccination clinic on March 12, 2021. The city says people should wait until the province's website launches Monday to book an appointment as all the weekend appointment spots there have been snatched up. (Jonathan Dupaul/CBC - image credit)
A City of Ottawa bylaw officer uses a megaphone to instruct people at the Nepean Sportsplex vaccination clinic on March 12, 2021. The city says people should wait until the province's website launches Monday to book an appointment as all the weekend appointment spots there have been snatched up. (Jonathan Dupaul/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa is reporting 68 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, but no new deaths.

  • Parents in one Ottawa school board have to decide by today on in-person or virtual learning for this fall.

  • A western Quebec man is reflecting on one year since spending 18 days in a COVID-19 coma.

What's the latest?

On Sunday, health officials in Ottawa reported 68 new cases of COVID-19, but no new deaths. Another 39 cases were reported in western Quebec.

Many of the city's indicators have crossed the threshold into the red zone category under the province's pandemic scale. Ottawa remains in the orange zone for now.

It's decision day for parents in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board: they have until midnight tonight to figure out if they want to send their children back to in-person learning this fall or place them in the online stream.

Public health officials are urging Ottawans 90 and older who became newly eligible this week to be vaccinated to now wait until the province's booking system launches Monday to try to arrange an appointment.

All vaccine appointments at the Nepean Sportsplex have been booked until Tuesday, the city says.

One year after being diagnosed with COVID-19 and spending more than two weeks in a coma, a western Quebec man is reflecting on that experience — and his new perspective on life.

How many cases are there?

As of Sunday, 15,562 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There are currently 611 known active cases, 14,504 resolved cases, and 447 deaths.

Public health officials have reported close to 27,700 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 25,800 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 133 people have died of COVID-19, and 167 people have died in western Quebec.

Akwesasne has had more than 250 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border, six of them active cases, and seven deaths. It's had more than 500 cases combined with its southern section.

Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had six, with one death.

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?

Restaurants, gyms, personal care services, theatres and non-essential businesses are open across eastern Ontario. Most sports can also resume.

Social gatherings can have up to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. Organized events can be larger.

People are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only travel for essential reasons, especially between differently coloured zones.

Eastern Ontario ranges from orange to green under the province's colour-coded pandemic scale.

Ottawa Public Health and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) are orange, with more restrictions than other regions.

Ottawa's health unit said it's edging closer to red and could be heading into a third wave. The EOHU is sending a similar message.

Health units in Renfrew and Lanark counties have warned private gatherings are a problem. Local health units can also set their own rules, as Kingston's is doing around St. Patrick's Day.

Western Quebec's gyms and restaurants can open under its orange zone rules, as can non-essential businesses.

Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people are now are allowed, and places of worship can welcome more people.

The region's curfew hours are 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.

The exception is Grenville-sur-la-Rouge and some of the surrounding area, which remains in red.

Like in Ontario, people in western Quebec are asked not to have close contact with anyone they don't live with and are discouraged from travelling from one region to another.

Quebec will allow extra-curricular activities and sports in schools across the province starting this week.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. New coronavirus variants can be more contagious and are spreading quickly in some places.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the months to come like staying home while symptomatic — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and frequently touched 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.

Dogs and their owners hang out in a dog park at the intersection of Slater Street and Bronson Avenue in Ottawa in March 2021.
Dogs and their owners hang out in a dog park at the intersection of Slater Street and Bronson Avenue in Ottawa in March 2021.(Brian Morris/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 stay home as much as possible and 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.

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.

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in Canada.

In early March the national task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second, meaning jurisdictions could spread first doses widely.

About 142,000 doses have been given out in the wider region since mid-December, including about 73,000 doses in Ottawa and 15,100 in western Quebec.

Ontario's first doses generally went to care home residents and health-care workers.

The provincewide campaign expands to priority groups such as people over age 80 this week, followed by people with underlying health conditions in April. Those who can't work from home and are as young as 60 could be vaccinated in June.

Generally, Ontarians who are eligible can book appointments online or over the phone starting Monday.

Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites — as they're asking people to keep their phone lines clear — for specifics.

For example, Ottawa has begun offering shots to certain groups in certain high-risk neighbourhoods and anyone born in or before 1931.

People who either are age 60 to 64 or will be turning 60 or 65 this year in the Kingston area can contact one of nearly 50 pharmacies for a vaccine appointment as part of a pilot project.

Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers.

The vaccination plan has moved to people age 70 and older at six western Quebec clinics, then essential workers and finally the general public.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. Pharmacists there will also be giving shots.

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.

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.

Ottawa has ten regular 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 Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic.

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

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

Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions.

In western Quebec:

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

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki and Petite-Nation.

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

A musician wearing a mask plays guitar at the Minotaure bar in Gatineau, Que., on March 13, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A musician wearing a mask plays guitar at the Minotaure bar in Gatineau, Que., on March 13, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic.(Patrick Louiseize/Radio-Canada)

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

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 613-625-2259. 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 and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

For more information