What’s the latest?
As COVID-19 persists into its second year, Ontario cities will be looking to today’s provincial budget to shore up their financial shortfalls and prepare for a post-pandemic economic recovery.
Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy is scheduled to deliver the budget at 4 p.m. Quebec’s budget day is tomorrow.
Many Canadians are wondering what they can safely do after getting vaccinated, but the federal recommendations still haven’t been updated weeks after the recommendation to wait up to four months between doses.
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How many cases are there?
As of Tuesday, 16,252 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 755 known active cases, 15,040 resolved cases and 457 deaths.
Public health officials have reported more than 29,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including nearly 27,000 resolved cases.
Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 134 people have died of COVID-19 and 170 people have died in western Quebec.
Akwesasne has had 260 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. It’s had more than 530 cases when its southern section is added in.
What can I do?
Eastern Ontario now ranges from red to green under the province’s colour-coded pandemic scale. Restaurants, gyms, personal care services and non-essential businesses are open across the region.
Restaurants in red zones have a maximum capacity of 50 per cent to a maximum of 50 people. Theatres are closed in red zones, and team sports games and scrimmages are banned.
Going red also means only leaving home for essential reasons and not having indoor visitors.
Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people are allowed. The region’s curfew hours are 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.
Rules around sports loosen on Friday.
People across the Ottawa-Gatineau area 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.
Distancing and isolating
This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.
OPH says residents should 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.
Four COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in Canada.Canada’s task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second, meaning jurisdictions can spread first doses widely.
About 220,000 doses have been given out in the wider region since mid-December, including about 92,000 doses in Ottawa and about 28,000 in western Quebec.
Ontario’s first doses generally went to care home residents and health-care workers.
The provincewide campaign has expanded further into Phase 1 to include more priority groups such as all people over age 75. People can book appointments online or over the phone.
Phase 3, slated to begin in July, will involve vaccinating anyone older than 16.
Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites for details. What each local health unit is managing themselves can differ from what they’re leaning on the provincial system to do.
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Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers.
Officials expect everyone over the age of 65 to be vaccinated by mid-April and everyone who wants a shot to be able to get one by by Fête nationale on June 24.
Symptoms and testing
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 tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
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In eastern Ontario:
Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.
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.
Check with your area’s health unit for clinic locations and hours. Some are offering pop-up or mobile clinics.
In western Quebec:
Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.
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:
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 call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.