What’s the latest?
Ottawa’s health officials reported 45 new cases of COVID-19, but no new deaths on Valentine’s Day.
Twenty-five newly confirmed cases were recorded in western Quebec.
Starting Tuesday, businesses like restaurants, gyms and salons will be allowed to welcome customers — with some restrictions — and the City of Ottawa will begin gradually reopening services to the public.
Canadian pharmacies are ready to help with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to the public once enough doses become public, according to the head of an association that represents the retailers.
How many cases are there?
As of Sunday, 13,948 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 426 known active cases and 13,090 resolved cases. Public health officials have attributed 432 deaths to COVID-19.
Public health officials have reported more than 24,800 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 23,300 resolved cases.
Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 125 people have died of COVID-19, and 157 people have died in western Quebec.
What can I do?
Travel between regions and provinces is not recommended.
Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five people. It’s strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential.
People who live alone are allowed close contact with one other household.
Students across eastern Ontario can return to the classroom.
Communities in the Belleville, Kingston and Renfrew County areas have already returned to green, the lowest level on the province’s colour-coded pandemic scale.
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Western Quebec residents are also 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 now allowed to open across Quebec. Locally, gyms and restaurants will stay closed.
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.
Distancing and isolating
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.
The federal government is in the midst of tightening international travel rules and asks people not to vacation abroad.
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.
COVID-19 vaccines have been given to local health-care workers and long-term care residents.
About 52,400 doses have been given out, including about 34,700 doses in Ottawa and 8,800 in western Quebec.
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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.
That province’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 in 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.
Quebecers should get their second dose within 90 days.
When the campaign expands, western Quebec’s health authority plans two vaccine clinics in Gatineau and four outside the city that can vaccinate between 3,000 to 6,000 people a day.
Where to get tested
In eastern Ontario:
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.
People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or in Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.
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.
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 170 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and six deaths. More than 330 people have tested positive across the community and eight have died.
The COVID-19 outbreak has ended at its Iakhihsohtha Lodge long-term care home.
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.
It has released its vaccine plans.