Canadian Healthcare

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 17

Recent developments:

What’s the latest?

After the province added people over age 80 who live at home to Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout, Ottawa said it expects to start vaccinating them in early March.

At a time when new TV shows are among the few things people have to look forward to, Ottawa animators and the studios they work for have been busier than ever bringing those stories to life.

Despite food establishments slowly reopening after the latest shutdown, vendors on the Rideau Canal Skateway won’t be allowed to open this season.

Western Quebec is that province’s only region that will downgrade from a red to an orange zone on Monday, the premier announced Tuesday.

That means a later curfew of 9:30 p.m. and gyms and restaurants opening with restrictions. Across the province, up to eight people or two families can gather for outdoor activities as of Friday, Feb. 26.

How many cases are there?

As of Tuesday, 14,038 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 435 known active cases and 13,169 resolved cases. Public health officials have attributed 434 deaths to COVID-19.

Public health officials have reported more than 25,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 23,500 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 126 people have died of COVID-19, and 157 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?

Eastern Ontario is no longer covered by the province’s stay-at-home order.

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

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.

A pedestrian passes a downtown Ottawa window in February 2021. (David Richard/Radio-Canada)

Ottawa Public Health 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 the lowest level of green.

Local health units can set their rules.

Western Quebec residents are still being asked to stay home unless it’s essential to leave and not see anyone they don’t live with. An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home.

Non-essential businesses, hair salons and museums are allowed to open across Quebec. Locally, gyms and restaurants will reopen on Monday.

Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged.

Quebec’s 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew remains in place. Western Quebec’s curfew will start at 9:30 p.m. on Monday when it moves to orange zone rules.

Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people will be allowed as Feb. 26.

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, keeping hands and frequently touched 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 also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.

A woman wears a warm-looking mask in Ottawa in February 2021. (Brian Morris/CBC)

People now have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and as of Monday, will 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 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.

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.

WATCH | Kids and contracting COVID-19:

Two pediatric infectious disease specialists answer viewer questions about COVID-19 including how susceptible children are to COVID-19 and if they are more likely to be asymptomatic. 6:54

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

A couple embraces on the Rideau Canal Skateway while two young people skate by them on Feb. 14. Food and drink vendors there won’t open for the entire winter season. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

COVID-19 vaccines have been given to local health-care workers and long-term care residents.

About 60,600 doses have been given out, including about 40,000 doses in Ottawa and 10,000 in western Quebec.

Ontario’s first doses are going to care home residents. It says a first dose has been offered at every long-term care home.

Ottawa has given a second dose to most long-term care residents, is giving second doses to some health-care workers and has given a first dose to high-risk retirement home residents.

The province’s campaign is expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March, with vaccines widely available in August.

Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by August’s Phase 3, hitting a groove of nearly 11,000 doses a day by early summer.

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.

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

A man plowing snow in Ottawa after a snowstorm on Feb. 16. (Brian Morris/CBC)

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

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.

WATCH | Most of Ontario now out from under stay-at-home order:

Much of Ontario has moved out of a provincewide lockdown, but the reopening is happening as COVID-19 variant cases increase and vaccinations stall. Experts say the province is doing too much too soon, risking a spike in cases and a return to lockdown. 2:46

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, 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 nearly 200 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and six deaths. More than 360 people have tested positive across the community and eight have died.

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.

Akwesasne has also released its vaccine plans.

Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had four, two of them active.

People in Pikwakanagan, which hasn’t yet had a confirmed case, 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.

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