What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, March 29

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, March 29

Recent developments:

  • CHEO, eastern Ontario's children's hospital, has confirmed a health-care worker at its outpatient clinic has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Three residents at Almonte Country Haven, a retirement home in Almonte, Ont., have also tested positive.
  • Ontario has 211 new cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday morning — including two deaths that haven't been confirmed in labs. In all, there have been 1,355 confirmed cases, including eight that have been resolved.  
  • Five new cases were confirmed Saturday in Prescott-Russell, Ont., with one patient in intensive care.
  • In western Quebec, health officials there reported two new cases Sunday, bringing the total in the Outaouais to 28.
  • Gatineau's transit agency has announced bus service reductions will go into effect April 6 as ridership has dropped significantly.

What you should know

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario doubles roughly every four days, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is urging everyone to continue to practise physical distancing and self-isolation when required to flatten the curve as much as possible.

As of Saturday afternoon, there were 106 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city.  

Of the positive cases, 17 are in hospital and seven of those patients are in intensive care. OPH said most patients in the ICU are in their 50s and 60s, and only one patient is over the age of 70.

The city's medical officer of health, Vera Etches, said that's a reminder people of any age can have severe symptoms of the virus, not just the elderly. 

"We know that staying home and practising physical distancing or being in self-isolation is not easy, and we thank you for what you're doing to help plank the curve," said Etches at a news conference Friday.

Etches has also said the virus could infect 4,000 people a day at its peak if physical distancing and self-isolation recommendations aren't respected.

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Physical distancing means avoiding non-essential trips out, working from home and cancelling gatherings, even with friends or extended family.

OPH advises residents to only be with members of their own household and stay at least two metres away from everyone else.

Public health officials are also urging anyone who's had close contact with someone who has travelled outside the country to self-isolate for 14 days.

That means staying home for two weeks and asking relatives, friends or neighbours to deliver groceries, medication and other supplies. All deliveries should be left at the door to maintain a two-metre distance.

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People who feel sick should also self-isolate for 14 days or until 24 hours after their symptoms are gone, whichever is longer.

Travellers who return to Canada must now enter a mandatory 14-day period of self-isolation or face a fine of up to $750,000, or as much as six months in jail, unless they're an essential worker.

Domestic travel by train or plane will also soon be off the table for anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms.

How daily life is changing

Many municipalities across Canada have declared states of emergency, including in eastern Ontario. 

In Ottawa, declaring an emergency allows the city to buy needed equipment and supplies without the usual procurement process, including personal protective equipment, food for the vulnerable and hotel rooms for emergency workers.

Ontario and Quebec have ordered all non-essential businesses to close, and late Saturday night Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued an emergency order banning gatherings of more than five people.

Ontario Provincial Police have said their officers will fine individuals or businesses that break the physical distancing rules.

Police in Quebec are also enforcing a ban on gatherings of more than two people.

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Sports venues such as fields and courts are closed to discourage gatherings. City playgrounds, parks facilities and off-leash dog parks are closed. The NCC has closed Gatineau Park along with parking lots at its trails and dog parks in Ottawa's Greenbelt.

Quebec schools are closed until at least May, while Ontario has launched an e-learning program while its schools remain closed, likely past the initial date of April 6.

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Public transit authorities are scaling back service because ridership has dropped substantially. 

Ottawa residents needing information can still call 311, and all essential services such as garbage and recycling collection, as well as some bylaw services, will continue. 

Service Canada has closed its centres to in-person visits, focusing on telephone and online work.

Spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa

Ottawa's health-care sector is ramping up for an expected surge in COVID-19 patients. 

Doctors, nurses and cleaning staff in Ottawa are already starting to ration disposable masks to conserve the current supply. 

The Montfort and Queensway Carleton hospitals are preparing to open up urgent care centres for COVID-19 patients. More details on that are expected next week. 

The Ottawa Hospital is doubling its number of intensive care beds and seeking donations of masks and other personal protective equipment at coviddonations@toh.ca.

The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) said Sunday a health-care worker at its outpatient clinic has tested positive for COVID-19.

The worker  hasn't been at the children's hospital since March 18, according to a statement posted to the hospital's website.

Patient-care services have been reduced at the clinic since March 13, a CHEO spokesperson said, meaning no direct contact between the individual and patients occurred. 

CHEO has identified three people who came into contact with the infected person, and all have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days.

The infected employee is also in self-isolation.

Retirement homes

The city has also seen its first COVID-19 case at a retirement home, with residents at the Promenade home in Orléans now in isolation and employees donning protective equipment and being monitored for symptoms.

As of Friday, the infected resident was in hospital along with their spouse.

A spokesperson for Almonte Country Haven, a retirement home in nearby Almonte, Ont., said Sunday that their home has also "been been affected by COVID-19."

According to the retirement home's Facebook page, three residents tested positive for the virus. 

"Working together with public health, we have made the difficult decision to isolate every resident to their room in an effort to prevent further spread for the safety of staff and residents," the retirement home's post reads.

The city saw its first COVID-19-related death on March 25, a man in his 90s with no travel history.

Ontario has 1,355 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday. That total includes all confirmed cases, eight resolved cases and 21 deaths.

Quebec has 2,498 confirmed cases.

There have been 55 deaths in Canada.

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What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from a very mild, cold-like illness to a severe lung infection. The most common symptoms include fever, fatigue and a dry cough.

They may take up to 14 days to appear, which is why that's the period of self-isolation.

Older people, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.

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The coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The virus can also spread through close, prolonged contact, such as touching or handshaking, and via surfaces such as door handles, mobile phones, tables and light switches if they touch their eyes, nose or mouth before washing their hands.

When to get tested

OPH asks that anyone who's concerned first fill out Ontario's online COVID-19 assessment tool. 

Unless you have severe symptoms, like shortness of breath, the best course of action is to stay home. Currently Ottawa is prioritizing tests for those most in need.

If you have a worsening cough and/or fever and you travelled outside of Canada or been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, OPH asks that you visit the COVID-19 screening centre at the Brewer Arena.

The centre is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 151 Brewer Way, off Bronson Avenue near Carleton University. You don't have to call ahead.

If you meet some of the criteria but don't have symptoms, you won't be tested and should self-isolate for 14 days. If you have severe symptoms and cannot manage at home, call 911.

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In western Quebec:

Gatineau's downtown assessment location is at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond.

Outaouais residents should call the regional help line at 819-644-4545 if they have a cough or fever, whether they've travelled or not.

If your symptoms require a trip to the emergency room, call ahead if your condition allows to let them know your travel history.

Kingston, Ont.

The assessment centre in Kingston is now at the Kingston Memorial Centre at 303 York St. It is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If you develop mild to moderate symptoms after travelling, either contact your health-care provider or go to the test site.

Kingston's public health unit says to check its website for information, and call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 with any remaining questions.

Other communities

The public health unit in the Belleville, Ont., area is asking people only call it at 613-966-5500 if they've checked the website and still have questions.

The same advice goes for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark's unit at 1-800-660-5853 extension 2499.

It opened a testing site by referral only at the Brockville Memorial Centre at 100 Magedoma Blvd. that's open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Referrals can come from a family doctor or the public health unit and will only be given to the sick and people who have left the country or been in close contact with a suspected or confirmed case.

Hawkesbury, Ont., has an assessment centre at 750 Laurier St. open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. 

Like Ottawa, only go there if you have new or worsening symptoms and have travelled or been in contact with a confirmed case. Go to CHEO if you're looking after an infant younger than six months old that fits this description.

Self-isolate if you have mild symptoms, go to the hospital if your symptoms are severe.

Only people older than age 70, who have chronic health problems or compromised immune systems can call 613-933-1375 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to ask about a home visit from paramedics.

Renfrew County is providing home testing under some circumstances.

Its public health unit says people who have symptoms or have been in close contact with a confirmed case should use the province's self-assessment tool.

Call Telehealth, their health care provider or it at 613-735-8654 if they still have more questions.

Anyone who doesn't have or can't reach a family doctor can call its new primary care centre at 1-844-727-6404 if they have questions about their health.

The province says it's doubling its testing capacity by the end of the week and nearly quadrupling that by mid-April.

In the Outaouais, the local health agency is calling anyone whose tests take more than a week to get back to them.

First Nations communities

The Mohawk communities of Akwesasne and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ) have declared a state of emergency to prepare for possible cases.

Anyone in MBQ who has symptoms can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse. A home test may be possible after that.

In Akwesasne, community members are asked to carry their status cards when crossing the Canada-U.S. border for essential trips.

The Algonquin communities of Kitigan Zibi and Pikwakanagan have scaled back non-essential services and are asking residents to follow public health advice.

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