What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, Nov. 21

·8 min read
A person wearing a mask in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Mathieu Theriault/CBC - image credit)
A person wearing a mask in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Mathieu Theriault/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday.

  • Ontario reported 741 cases of the illness.

What's the latest?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 55 more COVID-19 cases Sunday but no deaths.

Sen. Josée Forest-Niesing, 56, has died, after being discharged from hospital last Sunday following treatment for COVID-19.

She was released from hospital on Nov. 14, after being admitted in October. Her office said Tuesday she had struggled for 15 years with an autoimmune disease affecting her lungs.

The Ontario senator was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but her office said her condition made her more vulnerable to the virus.

Thanks to vaccinations against COVID-19 and the easing of some public health restrictions, Canadians are going to be seeing a lot more of Santa in 2021 than they did last year.

But there's a catch. In some parts of the country, there aren't enough Santas to go around for live visits, in part because some jolly old elves don't feel safe visiting in person yet. In other areas, Santas are sitting idle with few jobs because of high COVID-19 case counts.

How many cases are there?

As of Sunday, Ottawa has had 31,661 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are 368 known active cases, while 30,679 cases are considered resolved and 614 people have died from the illness.

Ottawa-Gatineau area confirmed COVID-19 cases

Public health officials have reported more than 58,800 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 56,900 cases now resolved. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 226 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 223.

Akwesasne has had more than 1,050 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 14 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has had 34 cases and one death. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 21 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:

There are no capacity restrictions for most places that require proof of vaccination, nor for outdoor organized events.

The plan is to lift public health measures in stages until March 2022, with the next step paused until at least December as officials monitor some rising trends.

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

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

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 and restaurants.

The premier said in October the state of emergency 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. People can use an app or show paper proof; people from out of province can show proof from their province, territory or country.

Other groups in the region are also coming out with their own COVID-19 vaccine policies, including for staff and visitors.

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.

This means it is important to take precautions 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.

Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press
Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

When and how long to self-isolate can vary in Quebec and Ontario and by vaccination status.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands and have supplies in case they need to isolate.

Travel

Travellers must now be 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.

The U.S. has reopened its land border with Canada. It requires all travellers — land, air and water — to be fully vaccinated. Some people with mixed doses will be allowed and it won't require a recent test.

People have to be fully vaccinated, tested and pre-approved to enter Canada. Rules for trips under 72 hours are expected to soon change.

The prime minister said in late October he's "very confident" countries around the world will accept provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Vaccines

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

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

The two most common are approved for youth as young as 12. Health Canada is expected to announce the approval of the first vaccine for children as young as five tomorrow.

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 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. It hasn't yet shared full details of its plans for younger children.

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 some flexibility, so check their websites for details. They offer doses on short notice as campaigns look to fill gaps in vaccine coverage and cover expanded third dose eligibility.

The province has recommended people under 24 get the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine because the Moderna 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. This province also hasn't shared its response to the expected eligibility change.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, headache, vomiting and loss of taste or smell.

"Long-haul" symptoms can last for months.

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:

Ontario says to get tested by making an appointment at a clinic if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Officials in Ottawa and Kingston have said they're seeing more people coming to its sites after having symptoms for several days. Since delaying testing can increase the risk of spread, they ask people not to wait.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies, which will soon be able to test people with symptoms.

Rapid and take-home tests are available in some places, including pharmacies and some child-care settings when risk is high. A positive test will trigger a test at a clinic.

Travellers who need a test have 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 if they're near a walk-in option online. They can also call 1-877-644-4545 with questions during hours the line is running.

Gargle tests are being offered in some places instead of a swab.

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 (including third doses) 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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