What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24

·8 min read
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24
A woman wearing a mask walks near the intersection of Bank and Queen streets on Feb. 18, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)
A woman wearing a mask walks near the intersection of Bank and Queen streets on Feb. 18, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments

What's the latest?

Ontario will start vaccinating adults over 80 in mid-March, the head of the province's immunization task force said Wednesday. People ages 60 to 64 could be vaccinated in July.

People in eligible age groups can start booking vaccines online or over the phone as of March 15. Essential workers should start getting their shots in May.

Some adults over 80 will be able to get a vaccine at a pop-up clinic in Ottawa starting late next week.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 41 more COVID-19 cases today, while western Quebec has recorded 16 more cases and one more death.

Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches is backing up what some key numbers and experts are already suggesting: that the capital may have to move to red zone rules next week if the spread of COVID-19 doesn't slow.

How many cases are there?

As of Wednesday, 14,470 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 446 known active cases and 13,587 resolved cases. Public health officials have attributed 437 deaths to COVID-19.

Public health officials have reported more than 25,700 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 24,200 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 130 people have died of COVID-19, and 159 people have died in western Quebec.

Akwesasne has had more than 220 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had four, with one death.

A positive test for a school bus worker is keeping Tyendinaga's Quinte Mohawk School students out of the building until March 22.

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 can I do?

Restaurants, gyms, personal care services, theatres and non-essential businesses are open across eastern Ontario. Most sports can also resume.

People eat inside a restaurant in the Rideau Centre mall, a few days after indoor dining in was allowed again in Ottawa under provincial pandemic rules.
People eat inside a restaurant in the Rideau Centre mall, a few days after indoor dining in was allowed again in Ottawa under provincial pandemic rules.

Social gatherings at private homes, backyards or in public parks can have up to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. Organized events can be larger.

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 travel for essential reasons, especially between differently coloured zones.

WATCH | Zone change to red possible if Ottawans aren't cautious:

Both Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) are orange under the province's colour-coded pandemic scale.

They have more restrictions than the rest of the region, which is in green, the lowest level. Local health units can also set their own rules.

Western Quebec's gyms and restaurants can open, joining non-essential businesses, hair salons and museums allowed to open across the entire province.

That area's new curfew hours are 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Like in Ontario, people are asked not to see anyone they don't live with in person and travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged.

Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people will be allowed as of Friday.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. New coronavirus variants can be more contagious.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the months to come like staying home while symptomatic — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with, even with a mask on.

A pedestrian walks along Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa on a snowy February day.
A pedestrian walks along Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa on a snowy February day.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec.

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

A pair of pedestrians masks on a warmer February 2021 day in Ottawa.
A pair of pedestrians masks on a warmer February 2021 day in Ottawa.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands.

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; the latter recently updated its rules, including in schools.

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.

Symptoms and vaccines

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 can develop 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 | Birdwatching as a way to cope with pandemic stress:

Canada's COVID-19 vaccine supply has stabilized.

About 76,100 doses have been given out since mid-December, including about 48,300 doses in Ottawa and 13,300 in western Quebec.

Ontario's first doses are generally going to care home residents and health-care workers. Local health units have some flexibility around how they work in the larger framework.

The province's campaign will expand to priority groups such as people over age 80 older adults starting in March, moving to younger age groups as spring goes on, and essential workers in May.

People who qualify can book appointments online or over the phone starting March 15. Vaccines are expected to be widely available in August.

Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by August, hitting a groove of nearly 11,000 doses a day by early summer.

Many of the eastern Ontario vaccine clinic locations that have been announced are in the same communities as test sites and none are open yet for the general public.

Quebec is giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers.

It moves to older adults outside care homes starting March 8 in western Quebec's six clinics, then essential workers and finally the general public.

Quebecers should get their second dose within 90 days.

Where to get tested

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.

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.

Ottawa has ten regular test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. A new twice-weekly site opened Tuesday for residents around Bank Street and Hunt Club Road.

WATCH | Ottawa's patios could stay open until 2 a.m.:

People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or in Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic.

Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, while another is in Napanee.

Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki and Petite-Nation.

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

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

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 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.

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

For more information