What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, March 26

Recent developments:

What’s the latest?

Two Ottawa long-term care homes with the highest staff COVID-19 vaccination rates say the key to successful uptake isn’t groundbreaking: good communication and giving staff time off are some ways they encouraged it.

The tiny Pharmasave in Sharbot Lake is the closest pharmacy to Ottawa that is part of Ontario’s vaccine pilot and supply quickly ran out, leaving more than 6,400 people, including locals, on a wait list.

Variants of the virus behind COVID-19 double the risk of someone being admitted to intensive care — and increase the risk of death by roughly 60 per cent — according to what sources tell CBC about recent Ontario data

Rules around capacity limits for sports and places of worship loosen today in Quebec.

Businesses that sell swimming pools and other pool-related products in Ottawa say they’ve never seen demand like this and won’t have the stock to meet it this year.

How many cases are there?

As of Thursday, 16,483 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 817 known active cases, 15,207 resolved cases and 459 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 29,700 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 27,200 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 134 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 171. =

Akwesasne has had more than 260 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. It’s had 540 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?

The province’s science advisers are among experts saying Ontario is in its third wave of the pandemic, while OPH said last week the city’s spread of COVID-19 is getting out of control.

WATCH | Calls for provincewide changes in Ontario:

As new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario hit their highest point since late January and with variants now making up more than half the cases, some experts say now is not the time to be opening back up. 2:06

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.

Ottawa and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties are in the red zone, which means all gatherings are capped at five people inside and 25 outside. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit will be moving to the red zone, with a date expected today.

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.

Local health units can also set their own rules, like what Kingston’s is doing around gatherings and Lanark County’s is doing for sports.

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, officials say.

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.

Ottawa Morning9:28Beyond another pandemic Passover

Passover begins this weekend. And while the ongoing pandemic means more virtual gatherings, some Jews are taking the opportunity to get creative with their ritual seders. 9:28

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.

Ottawa city officials and faith leaders held a ceremony outside City Hall March 25, 2021 to commemorate the year since the first resident died of COVID-19. (Frédéric Pepin/Radio-Canada)

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.

A pedestrian with headphones and a mask on a colder March 2021 day in Ottawa. (Brian Morris/CBC)

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.

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.

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 237,000 doses have been given out in the wider region since mid-December, including about 100,000 doses in Ottawa and about 31,000 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. 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.

WATCH | A Q&A on vaccine hesitancy:

Dr. Cora Constantinescu, from the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, says people should take the first COVID-19 vaccine that is available to them. 9:11

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.

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. 

Pharmacist Sarah Swanson and the rest of the staff at the Sharbot Lake Pharmasave have been working hard to manage the demand. All 500 doses they received have been given out, or assigned. That’s not stopping people from signing up. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

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

The vaccination plan now covers people age 65 and older at six 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.

All in a Day8:56Promoting publich health knowledge and vaccines to non English and French speakers.

It seems almost every day, there is new information about public health guidelines for the pandemic, or updates about vaccines. We talk to two people in Ottawa who are getting that information to communities of people who don’t speak English or French. 8:56

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.

Ottawa Morning8:53New research being proposed on COVID long-haulers.

Dr. Angela Cheung is pitching a study into what treatments and therapies work with people who live with lingering symptoms long after recovering from COVID. 8:53

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.

The health unit for the Kingston area is asking anyone who has left the region or seen someone from outside the region to get tested as it tracks variants.

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.

Starting this weekend, Ottawa’s Brewer Park, Moodie and Ray Friel testing sites are extending their weekend hours because of increased demand.

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. It said on Thursday it is expanding testing hours to meet demand.

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 613-625-1175. 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.

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