What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 4

·9 min read
A woman walks down Bank Street while two people sit on a nearby bench on April 27, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)
A woman walks down Bank Street while two people sit on a nearby bench on April 27, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Some restrictions are being loosened in the Outaouais on Monday.

What's the latest?

Quebec Premier François Legault says elementary schools can reopen on Monday across the Outaouais.

Those are the only rule changes taking effect next week for Gatineau and the nearby Pontiac and Collines-de-l'Outaouais regions.

The Vallée-de-la-Gatineau and Papineau regions are going back to red zone rules, meaning the curfew moves back to 9:30 p.m., non-essential businesses can reopen and high school students can return to the classroom.

At a news conference Tuesday, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the province wants kids to be back in school this spring and will continue to seek advice from the medical officer of health "on the way forward."

He said students who want to learn remotely next school year will be able to.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 94 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, the first time that daily number has been below 100 since late March.

OPH is reporting five more deaths including an Ottawa resident in their 40s, the city's fourth death in that age group. Four more people have died of COVID-19 in the Outaouais.

How many cases are there?

The region is in a record-breaking third wave of the pandemic that includes more dangerous coronavirus variants, straining contact tracing and pushing hospitals past their limits.

As of Tuesday, 24,751 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,777 known active cases, 22,459 resolved cases and 515 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 45,100 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including 41,600 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 177 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 201.

Akwesasne has had more than 650 residents test positive and 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 11, 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.

The transfer of COVID-19 patients from other regions to Ottawa hospitals continues. As of the most recent update Tuesday, there were 37 COVID-19 patients from other communities in Ottawa ICUs.

What can I do?

Eastern Ontario:

Ontario is under a stay-at-home order until at least May 20.

People should only leave home for essential reasons like getting groceries, seeking health care and exercising. They should stay within immediate area or province unless it's absolutely necessary to leave.

The vast majority of gatherings are prohibited, with exceptions that include small activities with households and small religious services.

Golf courses and tennis and basketball courts are among the closed recreation venues.

Police checkpoints are set up between Ontario and Quebec but are not running 24/7. Officers in Ontario have the power to stop and question people if they believe they've gathered illegally.

Ontario has indefinitely moved to online learning. Daycares remain open.

A closed entrance to a shop in downtown Ottawa April 26, 2021, during an Ontario stay-at-home order.
A closed entrance to a shop in downtown Ottawa April 26, 2021, during an Ontario stay-at-home order.(Andrew Lee/CBC)

Most non-essential businesses can only offer curbside pickup. Access to malls is restricted and big-box stores can only sell essential items.

Gyms and personal care services are closed, while restaurants are only available for takeout and delivery.

Local health units and communities can also set their own rules, as Ottawa's is doing around playgrounds, Prince Edward County's is doing around travel and Kingston is doing for Breakwater Park.

Western Quebec

Premier François Legault has said the situation is critical in Gatineau and is asking people there to only leave home when it's essential.

Schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses are closed until Monday across the Outaouais

Private gatherings are banned, except for a person who lives alone seeing one other household. Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people.

The curfew is from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

As of Monday, elementary students can return to classrooms across the region. The Vallée-de-la-Gatineau and Papineau regions are going back to red zone rules, meaning the curfew moves back to 9:30 p.m., non-essential businesses can reopen and high school students can go back to classrooms.

People are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only leave their immediate area for essential reasons — under threat of a fine if they go to a yellow or green zone.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Coronavirus variants of concern are more contagious and are taking over.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like 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.

OPH says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.

WATCH | When can we stop wearing masks?

People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and have to pay for their stay in a quarantine hotel if entering by air.

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 varies in Quebec and Ontario.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems get help with errands.

Vaccines

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

Canada's task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second.

More than 800,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including about 365,000 doses to Ottawa residents and about 155,000 in western Quebec.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating people age 55 and older at its clinics. People can book appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.

The province has opened up appointments for people age 18 and up in Ottawa's K1T, K1V and K2V "hot spot" postal codes.

Separately, some Ottawans in priority neighbourhoods age 18 and up and Indigenous people above age 16 can check their eligibility online and make an appointment through the city for a pop-up clinic.

People who are 40 or will be this year can contact participating pharmacies for a vaccine appointment. Pharmacies can offer walk-in vaccines if they wish.

People fill out paperwork as they line up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at a Loblaws grocery store pharmacy in Ottawa on April 26.
People fill out paperwork as they line up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at a Loblaws grocery store pharmacy in Ottawa on April 26.(Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Ontario has a staggered rollout plan to expand its vaccination campaign week-by-week, allowing everyone over age 18 to make an appointment starting the week of May 24.

The next expansion will come Thursday to include all people age 50 to 54, all people with "high-risk" health conditions and more people who can't work from home, including education workers.

Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites for details. Some have said they won't have the vaccine supply to cover everyone who becomes eligible right away.

Western Quebec

Quebec's vaccination plan covers people age 45 and older in the Outaouais, along with essential workers and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, including pregnancy.

It's also doing a staggered expansion, reaching down to people age 18 and above as of May 14. Its next local expansion will be to people age 40 to 44 tomorrow.

Officials expect everyone who wants a shot to be able to get one by by Fête nationale on June 24.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. Pharmacists there have started giving shots with appointments through the province.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, 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.

WATCH | Pandemic languishing explained:

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria.

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

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

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms, their contacts and people who have been told to get tested.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment and check wait times online.

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

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 a COVID-19 test site by appointment only and a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-1175. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and in Kitigan Zibi, 819-449-5593.

Tyendinaga's council is asking people not to travel there to camp or fish.

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