What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 31 – CBC.ca

Recent developments:

What’s the latest?

Pfizer announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12.

Admissions of COVID-19 patients to Ontario’s intensive care units have surpassed the previous pandemic high, 421 to 420.

Twenty-three of those patients are eastern Ontario residents and some local hospitals, such as in Kingston, have taken patients from elsewhere.

Seventeen part-time box office employees have been let go by the National Arts Centre after a year of not being paid. Some said they expected they’d be back once the NAC opened again.

How many cases are there?

As of Tuesday, 17,177 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,185 known active cases, 15,529 resolved cases and 463 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 31,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 28,000 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 140 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 172.

Akwesasne has had more than 260 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. It’s had nearly 550 cases when its southern section is added.

Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had seven, 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?

A top science advisor says Ontario’s COVID-19 spread is completely out of control. The premier said Tuesday not to gather for Easter or Passover and hinted rule changes could be coming.

Eastern Ontario ranges from red to green under the province’s colour-coded pandemic scale. Restaurants, gyms, personal-care services and non-essential businesses are open.

Ottawa, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit are all in the red zone, which means all gatherings are capped at five people inside and 25 outside. Religious services can have more people.

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Restaurants in red zones have a maximum capacity of 50 per cent to a maximum of 50 people.

In orange, red and grey zones, only people who live together can sit together inside; so can people who live alone with one other household. That expands to patios in grey.

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.

The Kingston area and Renfrew County are yellow and the Belleville area is green.

Local health units can also set their own rules, like what Kingston’s is doing around gatherings, Prince Edward County’s is doing around travel and Renfrew County’s is doing around dining.

Quebec is now in its third wave.

In western Quebec, gyms and restaurants can open under its orange zone rules, as can non-essential businesses

Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people are allowed. The region’s curfew hours are 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Que., and some of the surrounding area remains in red. The Outaouais may join it if its trends don’t turn around.

WATCH | Warnings for Quebec regions, including the Outaouais:

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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

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 and are spreading quickly in some places.

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.

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Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec.

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.

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.

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.

Vaccines

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 294,000 doses have been given out in the wider region since mid-December, including about 121,000 doses in Ottawa and about 45,000 in western Quebec.

Ontario’s first doses of Phase 1 generally went to care home residents and health-care workers.

The provincewide campaign has expanded to include more priority groups such as all people over age 75, and people 70 and older in certain regions. People can book appointments online or over the phone.

Phase 2 should include people with underlying health conditions in April, followed by people who can’t work from home or are 60 and older in June.

Phase 3, slated to begin in July, will involve vaccinating anyone older than 16.

Health-care worker Thi Nguyen administers the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at a COVID-19 clinic in Ottawa’s Nepean Sportsplex March 30, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites for details.

Some Ottawans in certain neighbourhoods can check their eligibility online and call the city at 613-691-5505 for an appointment. So can Indigenous people over age 40.

People who are above or turning age 60 in the Kingston area can contact one of nearly 50 pharmacies for a vaccine appointment as part of a pilot project. 

That may soon expand to Ottawa.

Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers.

The vaccination plan now covers people age 65 and older at western Quebec clinics. That will be followed by essential workers and finally the general public.

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.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. Pharmacists there will also be giving shots and people can book their appointments now in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge.

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.

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

 

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.

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.

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. It’s closed to non-essential visits until April 11.

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 613-625-1175. Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and in Kitigan Zibi, 819-449-5593.

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.

For more information