What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, Sept. 5

·8 min read
People ride a tourist bus through downtown Ottawa earlier this summer during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)
People ride a tourist bus through downtown Ottawa earlier this summer during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa reported 55 more COVID-19 cases Sunday.

  • Eighty per cent of the city's eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

  • Firefighters' union expresses concern with city vaccine policy.

  • Electronic music festival implements vaccine passport, ahead of province's timeline.

  • Local Shakespearean troupe returns to the stage after being shut down by pandemic.

What's the latest?

An Ottawa electronic music festival that's one of the largest in Canada has debuted its own homegrown proof-of-vaccination system, one month before the Ontario government is due to roll out a provincewide digital vaccine passport.

The Escapade festival is requiring anyone in attendance to show proof they've been fully immunized against COVID-19. It's confirming people's status with the CANImmunize app, developed by a team at The Ottawa Hospital long before the pandemic began.

The union representing the city's firefighters says it has concerns with the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy rolled out Friday by the City of Ottawa.

Union head Doug McLennan says his two main problems concern the tight vaccine timelines and the lack of any exemptions outside of medical grounds.

Outdoor theatre was chased out of parks and other public spaces by the COVID-19 pandemic, but one local Shakespearean troupe has now returned to the stage for a dozen performances in the waning days of summer.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 55 more COVID-19 cases Sunday. Eighty per cent of eligible residents are now fully vaccinated.

How many cases are there?

As of Sunday, 28,553 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 320 known active cases, 27,640 cases considered resolved, and 593 people who have died from the illness.

Ottawa-Gatineau area confirmed COVID-19 cases

Public health officials have reported more than 51,800 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 50,200 cases now resolved.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 200 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 215. Two COVID-19 deaths were reported in the region in August.

Akwesasne has had nearly 750 residents test positive for COVID-19, and has reported 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases and one death. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 13, with one death. Pikwakanagan hasn't had any.

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 are the rules?

Eastern Ontario:

Ontario is in Step 3 of its reopening plan and will stay there for the foreseeable future. Its science table says more vaccinations and fewer contacts are needed to avoid a lockdown this autumn.

Ontario's vaccine passport system starts Sept. 22 for many activities. People will have to show photo identification and either a paper or PDF version of their vaccine receipt until an app is ready, likely in late October.

In the meantime, COVID-19 vaccines are becoming mandatory for many activities and services.

Ontario allows indoor dining, with capacity limits based on distancing. Gyms, movie theatres and museums can reach a capacity of 50 per cent inside.

Larger general gathering limits are 25 people inside and 100 people outside. Those limits are even higher for organized events.

Ontario's back-to-school plan allows for extracurricular activities, and while masks remain mandatory, vaccines are not. School boards can go beyond these rules.

Ben Andrews/CBC News
Ben Andrews/CBC News

Western Quebec

Western Quebec is now under green zone restrictions, the lowest on the province's four-colour scale.

The physical distancing length in the province has been reduced to one metre.

Ten people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports. Organized events can be much larger.

This province's school plans don't include classroom bubbles but now include masks in class for students.

A vaccine passport is in place for people age 13 and up in spaces such as public events, bars, restaurants and gyms. There's a two-week adjustment period, so rules won't be enforced until Sept. 15.

Quebecers can use an app or show paper proof; people from out of province will have to show paper proof. Everyone will also have to show ID.

What can I do?

COVID-19 primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Variants of concern are more contagious and are established.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future, such as 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 and recommended in crowded outdoor areas.

Vaccines curb the spread of all variants of COVID-19 without offering total protection. There's federal guidance for what vaccinated people can do in different situations.

Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents can now skip the 14-day quarantine when travelling back to Canada. People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine.

Fully vaccinated Americans can visit Canada without having to quarantine, while tourists from all other countries are set to be allowed as of Tuesday. The U.S. border remains closed to non-essential land travel until at least Sept. 21.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands.

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 of self-isolation varies in Quebec and Ontario.

Vaccines

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada. Three are in use, with two approved for youth as young as 12.

Canada's vaccine task force says people can wait up to 16 weeks between first and second doses. Factors pushed provinces to drastically speed up that timeline, including supply and the more infectious delta variant.

That same task force says it's safe and effective to mix first and second doses.

Ontario is giving certain groups third doses and Quebec's vaccine task force has recommended the same.

There have been more than 3.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region — combined first and second doses — which has about 2.3 million residents.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating anyone who will be age 12 or older in 2021. Third booster shot details depend on the health unit.

People can look for provincial appointments opening up online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900. Pharmacies continue to offer vaccines through their own booking systems, as do some family doctors.

Local health units have flexibility in the larger framework, including around booking, so check their websites for details. They offer standby lists and walk-in doses on short notice.

Campaigns are shifting away from mass clinics to mobile clinics to target those who haven't yet received those first dose, or can now get their second shot.

Western Quebec

Quebec is vaccinating anyone 12 and older. Its goal is to provide second doses four weeks after the first.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone or visit one of the province's permanent and mobile walk-in clinics.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, runny nose, headache, 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 make an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job.

The province removed a runny nose from its list of symptoms requiring a child to stay home from school or daycare.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Rapid tests are available in some places.

Travellers who need a test have a few local options to pay for one.

In western Quebec:

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

People can make an appointment and check wait times online. Some walk-in testing is available.

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

Christian Patry/Radio-Canada
Christian Patry/Radio-Canada

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. People in Kitigan Zibi can call the health centre at 819-449-5593 for a test or vaccine; email is another option for vaccine booking.

Tests are available in Pikwàkanagàn by calling 613-625-1175. 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.

For more information

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