What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sept. 23

·8 min read
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sept. 23

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa Public Health is reporting 65 new cases of COVID-19 and has declared 106 cases resolved.

What's the latest?

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced select pharmacies in the province can begin testing asymptomatic people for COVID-19 on Friday, offering more options as established testing sites remain busy.

Testing at pharmacies will be free with an appointment, said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Thirteen pharmacies in Ottawa will offer these tests.

Medical officer of health Vera Etches told Ottawa city council Wednesday she's close to escalating the city's COVID-19 status from orange to red, which signals increasing spread, outbreaks and limited hospital capacity.

WATCH | Ottawa may change to 'red' alert status:

Ottawa logged 65 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, again one of its highest single-day counts days ever. This time, it was surpassed by the 106 people whose cases are now considered resolved.

Three people who are neither students nor staff at Fellowes High School in Pembroke, Ont., have tested positive for COVID-19.

The new cases are connected to the outbreak that closed the school last week, according to local health officials. It was the first school in Ontario to close due to an outbreak since classes resumed.

How many cases are there?

As of the most recent Ottawa Public Health update on Tuesday, 3,837 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. That includes 545 known active cases, 3,012 resolved cases and 280 deaths.

Overall, public health officials have reported 5,600 cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 4,600 of those cases considered resolved.

COVID-19 has killed 104 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 people have died in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 34 in the Outaouais and 18 in other parts of eastern Ontario.

According to data shared by Ottawa's four boards as of Wednesday evening, 51 schools had reported at least one case of COVID-19 involving a staff member or student. Seventy students or staff have tested positive.

What's open and closed?

As the number of active COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Ottawa, its public health officials are ordering anyone who fits one of these descriptions to immediately self-isolate or face a fine of up to $5,000 per day in court:

  • Tests positive for COVID-19.

  • Has signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Was in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

  • Is waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test.

  • Has reasonable grounds to think they have COVID-19.

They're allowed to end their isolation after 14 days or if they test negative.

Ontario and Quebec have rolled back some public health rules because of the widening spread of the coronavirus, considered the second wave in Quebec and some parts of Ontario, such as Ottawa.

Private, unmonitored gatherings across Ontario are now limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors until at least mid-October.

Quebec has introduced tighter restrictions in the province's "orange zones," which now includes the Outaouais.

Physically distanced gatherings in public venues can still include up to 250 people, although in "orange zones" like western Quebec the maximum in a place of worship, a rented hall, or festival is now 25.

WATCH | Outaouais moves to 'orange':

Ottawa will resume ticketing drivers who park longer than allowed in unmarked areas on Oct. 1.

Kingston, Ont., has tightened its distancing rules in city parks and increased fines.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something.

People don't need to have symptoms to be contagious.

That means physical distancing measures such as working from home, meeting others outdoors as much as possible and keeping distance from anyone you don't live with or have in your social circle, including when you have a mask on.

Ottawa's medical officer of health and Quebec's top health official are pleading with residents to reduce the number of people they're in close contact with as new cases of COVID-19 continue to surge.

Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.

Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in all of eastern Ontario and Quebec, including transit services and taxis in some areas.

Masks are also recommended outdoors when you can't stay the proper distance from others.

Justin Tang/Canadian Press
Justin Tang/Canadian Press

Most people with a confirmed COVID-19 case in Quebec can end their self-isolation after 10 days if they have not had a fever for at least 48 hours and has had no other symptom for at least 24 hours.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

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

Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.

Getting tested any sooner than five days after potential exposure may not be as useful since it takes about that long for the virus to grow to be detectable by a test, said Ottawa's medical officer of health Vera Etches in early September.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Where to get tested

Wait times and lines have been long at many of the area's test sites, causing some to reach capacity before closing time or even before opening.

It's also taking up to five days for laboratories to process tests, according to OPH's Etches on Wednesday.

Health officials have said they're trying to add more test capacity.

In eastern Ontario:

In Ottawa any resident can get tested, but record wait times have led Ottawa Public Health (OPH) to ask that testing be limited for now to people with symptoms or who have been referred for a test because of contact tracing.

Testing for the general public happens at one of four permanent sites, with additional mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. Some tests are also done in hospitals.

The Brewer Arena's CHEO area for children age two months to 17 years old is now primarily by appointment, which you can book online.

Ottawa's two care clinics on Moodie Drive and Heron Road are open later today, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., because of maintenance on their computers systems.

A test clinic is expected to open at the Ray Friel Recreation Complex in Orléans, likely by mid-October.

WATCH | Reaction from a school with a recent case:

In the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, there is a drive-thru centre in Casselman and walk-up site in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don't require people to call ahead.

Its medical officer of health says the Casselman centre will be moved to reduce its impact on traffic.

Others in Alexandria, Rockland, Cornwall and Winchester require an appointment.

In Kingston, the Leon's Centre is hosting the city's test site though Gate 2. There's another test site at Queen's University's Mitchell Hall open 5 to 8 p.m. on weekdays.

Napanee's test centre is open daily for people who call ahead.

You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the centre and in Picton by texting or calling. Only Belleville and Trenton run seven days a week.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to get tested if you have a symptom or concerns about exposure.

It has a walk-in site in Brockville at the Memorial Centre and testing sites in Smiths Falls and Almonte which require an appointment.

Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor and those without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 for a test or if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.

People can also visit the health unit's website to find out where testing clinics will be taking place each week.

In western Quebec:

Outaouais residents can get a walk-in test in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.

They can call 1-877-644-4545 to make an appointment or if they have other questions.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has had 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases, most linked to a gathering on an island in July.

It has a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.

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.

Inuit in Ottawa can also call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

People in Pikwakanagan can book an appointment for a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259.

Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse.

For more information

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