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.
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.
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.
WATCH | Ontario’s message for the coming long weekend:
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.
Quebec is now in its third wave.
WATCH | Warnings for Quebec regions, including the Outaouais:
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.
Front Burner23:53How, exactly did COVID-19 begin?
OPH says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.
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 3, slated to begin in July, will involve vaccinating anyone older than 16.
That may soon expand to Ottawa.
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.
Vaccine Booking Update Thread: All of our local (Almonte, SFs, Brockville, Kemptville) appt slots in the provincial online booking system for April are now booked. We are adding more for May. If you are 70+ and haven’t been able to get an appt yet here are your options 1/4 pic.twitter.com/DWXhuPo9Li
In eastern Ontario:
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.
As you’re likely aware, Ottawa has seen triple digit case counts in recent days. It’s more vital than ever to self-monitor and seek testing if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
Learn more: https://t.co/yKizEc8vqf pic.twitter.com/yQvPHpLpZa
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.