What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, Oct. 31

·7 min read
A skeleton sits on a porch of a home in Ottawa on Oct. 13, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials say it's safe to go out trick-or-treating this year, but urge people to take precautions. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)
A skeleton sits on a porch of a home in Ottawa on Oct. 13, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials say it's safe to go out trick-or-treating this year, but urge people to take precautions. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa reported 22 more cases of COVID-19 on Halloween.

  • Health officials urge people to get their flu vaccine this year, but you'll likely have to go to a pharmacy or doctor's office.

What's the latest?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 22 more COVID-19 cases Sunday and no more deaths.

Some people might be wondering how unvaccinated children can trick-or-treat safely during the COVID-19 pandemic this Halloween.

But for University of Ottawa epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan, taking part in the annual outdoor tradition is a fairly low-risk activity that can be done without too much worry.

"Go trick-or-treating, be outside, go door-to-door. Minimize your contact. Don't get close to people," said Deonandan. "Say hi and move on."

With more relaxed COVID-19 measures, health officials are expecting to see the resurgence of another illness this year — the flu — but instead of being able to head to a community clinic, most people will have to visit a pharmacy or their doctor's office.

The change is, in part, because Ottawa Public Health will be running the flu vaccine clinics in conjunction with its COVID-19 vaccinations and the expectation is that vaccine will soon be approved for many children under the age of 12.

How many cases are there?

As of Sunday, Ottawa has a total of 30,854 cases of COVID-19. There are 197 known active cases, 30,054 cases are considered resolved, and 603 people have died from the illness.

Ottawa-Gatineau area confirmed COVID-19 cases

Public health officials have reported more than 57,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including nearly 55,600 cases now resolved. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 219 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 223.

Akwesasne has had more than 1,000 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 12 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has had 34 cases and one death. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 20 cases and one death. Pikwakanagan hasn't had any cases.

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:

The province's vaccine passport is required for people of an eligible vaccine age in many settings. People can show paper, PDF or QR code proof.

There are no capacity restrictions for most places that require proof of vaccination and now, outdoor organized events. The plan is to lift public health measures in stages, with the next in mid-November and the last in late March 2022.

Private gathering limits are 25 people inside and 100 people outside.

Simon Lasalle/CBC
Simon Lasalle/CBC

Western Quebec

Under its green zone rules, 10 people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports.

There are no capacity limits for Quebec venues with assigned seats. Restaurants will lose capacity and hour limits tomorrow.

The premier says the pandemic state of emergency order that gives the government special powers will be lifted once kids aged five to 11 are vaccinated.

A vaccine passport is in place for most people age 13 and up in many public spaces.

Quebecers can use an app or show paper proof; people from out of province have to show paper proof. The province has a record for use outside of the province.

Other groups in the region are also coming out with their own COVID-19 vaccine policies, including for staff. Federal public servants had to share their vaccine status by the end of October.

What can I do?

Prevention

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 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 considering distancing from anyone you don't live with.

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.

Health leaders in the area generally say smaller Halloween gatherings are allowed with precautions for the unvaccinated and/or vulnerable. Guidance can be stricter in areas where COVID-19 is spreading more than others, such as Akwesasne.

Justin Tang/Canadian Press
Justin Tang/Canadian Press

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 curb the spread of all variants of COVID-19 and go a long way toward avoiding deaths and hospitalizations, without offering total protection.

There's federal guidance for what vaccinated people can do in different situations.

Travel

Travellers must now be fully vaccinated to board a plane, train or marine vessel in Canada. Partially vaccinated travellers can show proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test until Nov. 29.

Fully vaccinated, tested and pre-approved people can come to Canada.

The U.S. will require all travellers to be fully vaccinated as of Nov. 8. Some people with mixed doses will be allowed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he's "very confident" countries around the world will accept Canadians' provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.

Vaccines

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada.

The two most common are approved for youth as young as 12. Trial data is being reviewed for the first shot for younger kids.

Canada's vaccine task force says people can wait three to 16 weeks between first and second doses and it's safe and effective to mix first and second doses.

Ontario and Quebec are giving certain groups third doses.

There have been more than 3.6 million COVID-19 first, second and third vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million residents.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating anyone who will be age 12 or older in 2021.

People can look for provincial appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900. Pharmacies and some family doctors offer vaccines through their own booking systems.

Local health units have flexibility, including for booking and third shots, so check their websites for details.

They offer doses on short notice as campaigns look to fill gaps in vaccine coverage.

The province has recommended people aged 18 to 24 get the Pfizer-BioNTech, or Comirnaty, vaccine because the Moderna or Spikevax vaccine brings a mild risk of a rare heart condition.

Western Quebec

Anyone 12 and older can make an appointment or visit a permanent or mobile walk-in clinic.

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 COVID-19 test can make an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Ontario says to only get tested if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies.

Rapid and take-home tests are available in some places, including some child-care settings when risk is high. 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 or see what their walk-in options are online. They can also call 1-877-644-4545 with questions.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are available in all Quebec preschools and elementary schools.

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 Anishinabeg 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 and vaccines, at 613-625-2259 extension 225 or by email. 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.

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