What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Jan. 20

·7 min read
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Jan. 20

Recent developments:

  • Students in Ottawa will not return to the classroom Monday as planned.

  • Five more people have died of COVID-19 in western Quebec.

What's the latest?

Ottawa is reporting 67 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday and two more deaths.

During a virtual news conference Wednesday, Ottawa's Medical Office of Health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters there are several positive signs indicating Ottawa has turned a corner, including a decline in the city's test positivity rate. But Etches reminded residents to continue following public health advice to keep it that way.

Also on Wednesday, Ontario released a list of public health regions where in-person learning can resume for both elementary and secondary students, starting Monday. Ottawa isn't on the list, but four public health units in eastern Ontario were given the green light: Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington; Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District; the Renfrew County and District; and Hastings Prince Edward.

How many cases are there?

As of Wednesday, 12,494 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,057 known active cases, 11,028 resolved cases and 409 deaths from COVID-19.

Public health officials have reported more than 22,400 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 19,700 resolved cases.

One hundred and seven people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 147 people have died in western Quebec.

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?

Ontario says people must only leave home when it's essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Places such as Kingston have started to take patients from other regions struggling with hospital capacity.

People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't be stopping people just for being outside.

Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning.

Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential.

People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household.

Outdoor recreation venues remain open. In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery.

Child-care centres remain open.

The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11.

Jean Delisle/CBC
Jean Delisle/CBC

In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with to ease the "very critical" load on hospitals and avoid more delayed surgeries.

An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home.

Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules.

The province has shut down non-essential businesses, but has brought students back to classrooms. Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged.

Those rules are in place until Feb. 8.

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.

This means it's important to take precautions like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on.

Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec.

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

Brian Morris/CBC
Brian Morris/CBC

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 Ontario and Quebec.

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 returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

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.

Justin Tang/Canadian Press
Justin Tang/Canadian Press

COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the region. Renfrew County expects its first doses in early February.

Local health units have said they've given more than 29,200 doses, including about 22,000 in Ottawa and more than 6,700 in western Quebec.

Ontario wants every long-term care resident and worker to have at least one shot by Feb. 15. That's already happened in Ottawa.

That, and Pfizer temporarily slowing its vaccine production to expand its factory, means some areas can't guarantee people will get a second dose three weeks after the first. It may take four to six weeks.

WATCH | The effects of Pfizer's factory work:

Ontario's campaign is still expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March or April, with vaccines widely available to the public in August.

Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by August.

Quebec is also giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers, then remote communities, then older adults and essential workers and finally the general public.

It said before Pfizer's announcement people will get their second dose within 90 days.

WATCH | Scientists racing to understand new COVID-19 variants:

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 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 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. Its Alexandria and Casselman sites will reopen next week.

People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or 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, 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.

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, Fort-Coulonge 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 had more than 130 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and five deaths. More than 240 people have tested positive across the community.

Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site 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.

Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 18. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its only confirmed case in November.

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, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

For more information