Ottawa reports 466 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, a record high.
What's the latest
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 466 cases on Thursday, a new record.
It's been nearly a month since Canada's first COVID-19 case involving the Omicron variant was confirmed in Ottawa, and while local case numbers have since shot up, hospitalizations remain relatively stable.
New waves typically start in younger folks before spreading out to other groups, Dr. Doug Manuel Manuel told CBC in an email. Omicron-related hospitalizations will start to show up when middle-aged, older and unvaccinated Canadians start to be infected in larger numbers, he said.
Quebec Premier François Legault has announced that as of Dec. 26, indoor gatherings in the province will be limited to six people — or two family bubbles — in an effort to slow the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant and limit hospital admissions.
Many Ottawa small businesses are welcoming the new federal and provincial support programs announced Wednesday, but some say the programs aren't inclusive enough, fail to provide adequate support or are unfairly enforced.
How many cases are there?
Testing has recently fallen behind the demand caused by Omicron, meaning some people with COVID-19 won't be reflected in the case count as quickly. Hospitalizations and the wastewater levels can help fill in some of the grey areas.
As of Thursday, Ottawa has had 35,786 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Ottawa-Gatineau area confirmed COVID-19 cases
There are 2,783 known active cases, while 32,383 cases are considered resolved and 620 people have died from the illness.
Local public health officials have reported more than 69,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 62,200 cases now resolved. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 244 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 223.
Akwesasne has had more than 1,250 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 18 deaths between its northern and southern sections.
What are the rules?
The province's private gathering limits under the threat of Omicron are 10 people indoors and 25 outside; businesses can reach 50 per cent capacity. Up to 10 people are allowed per table at a restaurant or bar.
Health units for the Belleville, Kingston and Leeds,Grenville and Lanark areas are asking residents to avoid in-person gatherings, as are councils for Akwesasne, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.
Ten people are allowed to gather inside homes and 20 people outdoors.
Schools, bars, gyms, spas and movie theatres are closed. Places of worship and restaurants are restricted to 50 per cent capacity. Restaurants can only open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and no singing or dancing are allowed.
Schools are closed to in-person learning until at least Jan. 10.
A vaccine passport is in place for most people age 13 and up in many public spaces. It won't apply to younger kids. People can use an app or show paper proof.
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?
Health officials say people should recommit to the fundamentals of getting vaccinated, staying home when sick, getting tested if local circumstances allow and seeing as few people in person as possible.
When and how long to self-isolate can vary by community, by testing availability, by the type of exposure 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.
Travellers more than 12 years and four months old must now be fully vaccinated to board a plane, train or marine vessel in Canada.
The federal government is officially advising against non-essential international travel until at least Jan. 12.
The U.S. requires everyone crossing a land, air or water border to be fully vaccinated. People flying there will need proof of a negative COVID test within a day of departure.
The hope is that other countries will accept provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.
Health Canada has approved Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for children as young as five. Both local provinces generally recommend doses for kids age five to 11 be given at least eight weeks apart, with limited exceptions.
Everyone 18 and older in Ontario can now try to book third shots, though local resources don't always meet demand. The province has also shortened the interval required between second and third doses to 84 days.
People who are 65 and older can receive a third dose in Quebec, while those 60 and older with certain health conditions are also eligible. Everyone else 60 and older will be able to get a third dose as of Monday.
There have been more than 4.1 million COVID-19 first, second and third vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million residents.
Pharmacies and some family doctors offer vaccines through their own booking systems.
Clinics for children are in schools and kids will need written consent from a parent to be vaccinated there.
Siblings can be booked together in a single time slot and parents can check a box to signal if their child is nervous.
Symptoms and testing
"Long-haul" symptoms can last for months.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
In eastern Ontario:
Rapid and take-home tests are available in malls, libraries and LCBOs (when supplies allow), Kingston-area family doctor offices, and some child-care settings when risk is high. Students get a pack of test kits for the holiday break.
A positive rapid test will trigger a follow-up.
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.
Maniwaki's test site is relocating to 57 route 105 as of today.
Gargle tests are offered in some places instead of a swab.
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.
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.