Canadian Healthcare

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, Feb. 28


Recent developments

  • Ottawa Public Health recorded 62 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. 
  • The Renfrew health unit is considering targeted restrictions after cases rise in two communities.
  • Parents with Ottawa’s largest school board will soon have to choose between virtual and in-person learning for the fall.

What’s the latest?

The acting head of the Renfrew County and District Health Unit says they’re considering targeted restrictions as COVID-19 cases have shot up in a pair of communities just west of Ottawa.

Dr. Robert Cushman says it’s possible tighter rules could be implemented in the town of Arnprior, Ont., and the township of McNab/Braeside, Ont., after 15 cases were confirmed this past week.

In Ottawa, meanwhile, another 62 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Saturday. No deaths were reported.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board says parents will have to make a decision by mid-March about whether their children will attend virtual or in-person learning come September.

If the pandemic’s left you feeling disconnected from loved ones, check your mailbox this week. Canada Post will be sending out 13.5 million postage-paid postcards to help Canadians stay in touch with the people who matter to them.

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, 14,650 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 488 known active cases and 13,723 resolved cases. Public health officials have attributed 439 deaths to COVID-19.

Public health officials have reported more than 26,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 24,400 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 130 people have died of COVID-19, and 160 people have died in western Quebec.

Akwesasne has had more than 230 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 five, with one death.

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.

Social gatherings 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.

Both Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the 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.

A woman in a mask walks through downtown Arnprior, Ont., on Feb. 27, 2021. The Renfrew County and District Health Unit says tighter pandemic rules could be put in place there as there’s been a recent rise in COVID-19 cases. (Remi Authier/Radio-Canada)

Western Quebec’s gyms and restaurants can open, joining non-essential businesses.

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 are now allowed.

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.

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.

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

Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine supply has stabilized.

About 79,800 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 have generally been going to care home residents and health-care workers.

The province’s campaign will expand to priority groups such as people over age 80 starting in mid-March, moving to younger age groups through July, and essential workers in May.

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

Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, however, so check with them for specifics.

For example, Ottawa has chosen to offer shots to people over age 80 in certain areas of the city and adults getting home care for chronic conditions starting this Friday, March 5.

More details on those logistics are expected Monday.

That city 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 eastern Ontario vaccine clinic locations 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 10 in western Quebec’s six clinics, then essential workers and finally the general public.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone.

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.

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, 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.

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