What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Aug. 26

CBC Ottawa's latest roundup of key updates during the coronavirus pandemic.

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

A woman leads her dog down a colourful staircase in downtown Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Recent developments: 

  • Ottawa Public Health reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, among 88 new cases reported provincewide.
  • The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board will delay the start of classes until Sept. 8.
  • Trustees also rejected a proposal to require masks for younger students, voting instead to encourage their use among children in kindergarten to Grade 3.
  • The Ottawa Catholic School Board has also updated its staggered start dates for school.
  • The Upper Canada District School Board is telling parents it "may not be possible" to change their minds about in-class or online learning for their children during the school year.

What's the latest? 

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 16 new cases oc COVID-19 on Wednesday, and marked eight more cases as resolved. Twelve patients are now in hospital.

Ontario reported 88 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, but there are 115 more cases marked as resolved.

Researchers are trying to figure out why patients known as COVID-19 "long-haulers" continue to experience symptoms months after contracting the virus that causes the illness.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is encouraging students in kindergarten to Grade 3 wear masks in the classroom. (Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Masks could soon be mandatory inside all condominium and apartment building common areas. Ottawa City Council plans to vote on recommendations that require masks be worn in building entrances, lobbies, elevators, and gyms, until people are inside their own units.

The City of Ottawa says it will be receiving $124 million from the Federal-Provincial Safe Restart Agreement to help cover COVID-19-related budget shortfalls. The funding represents about 65 per cent of the city's projected $192 million shortfall for the year.

What's the latest on schools?

In a letter to parents, the Upper Canada District School Board said once the school year starts it "may not be possible" for students to switch between classroom and online learning.

The board said it had previously planned to allow that to happen at set intervals, but after the "unanticipated amount of interest in remote learning," it's now rethinking that. 

Approximately 20 per cent of the board's student population chose remote learning. Parents now have until Friday at 9 a.m. to contact schools and change their decision on their preferred learning model. 

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has delayed the start of classes until Sept. 8.

Trustees also rejected a proposal to require masks for younger students, voting instead to encourage their use among children in kindergarten to Grade 3. Students in grades 4 to 12 must wear masks while indoors, including in hallways and classrooms.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) has also delayed the return to school. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3, as well as Grade 7, will now start Sept. 8. Kids in grades 4 to 6, along with Grade 8, will start Sept. 9. High school students will be separated into two separate cohorts, with group A starting on Sept. 14, and group B on Sept. 15.

The OCSB's starting date for online learning remains unchanged.

Quebec updated its school plans in early August, including making masks mandatory in hallways for students Grades 5 and up.

How many cases are there?

There have been 2,871 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa since the pandemic began, with 174 active cases and 2,431 cases considered resolved. There have been 266 deaths related to the illness in Ottawa.

Overall, public health officials have reported nearly 4,400 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 3,700 resolved. 

COVID-19 has killed 102 people in the region outside Ottawa.

As of Aug. 25, 52 people have died in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties. Additionally, 17 people have died in other parts of eastern Ontario and 33 in the Outaouais.

What's open and closed

Ottawa is in Stage 3 of Ontario's reopening plan, which means more businesses are open including dine-in restaurants and movie theatres.

Indoor gatherings of up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 are now allowed in that province but attendees must follow physical distancing guidelines.

Quebec has similar rules, with its cap on physically distanced gatherings in public venues now up to 250 people, allowing smaller festivals.

The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes on another person or object. People don't need to have symptoms to be contagious.

That means physical distancing measures such as working from home, meeting others outdoors as much as possible and keeping distance from anyone they don't live with or have in their circle, including when you have a mask on.

Masks are now mandatory in indoor public settings in all of eastern Ontario and Quebec, where transit officials and taxi drivers are now required to bar access to users over age 12 who refuse to wear one.

Masks are also recommended outdoors when you can't stay the proper distance from others.

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Anyone who has symptoms or travelled recently outside Canada must self-isolate for at least 14 days.

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly urges self-isolation for people with weakened immune systems and OPH recommends people over 70 stay home as much as possible. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a dry cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. 

Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pinkeye. Children can develop a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Where to get tested

In eastern Ontario:

In Ottawa any resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can be tested at one of three sites.

Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

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In the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area, there is a drive-thru centre in Casselman that can handle 200 tests a day and assessment centres in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don't require people to call ahead.

Others in Alexandria, Rockland and Cornwall require an appointment.

In Kingston, the Leon's Centre is hosting the city's test site. Find it at Gate 2.

Napanee's test centre is open daily for people who call for an appointment.

You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the centre and in Picton by texting or calling.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to get tested if you have a symptom or concerns about exposure.

It has a walk-in site in Brockville at the Memorial Centre and testing sites in Smiths Falls and Almonte which require an appointment.

Surgical oncologist Dr. Peter Stotland puts on personal protective equipment before checking on a patient at a Toronto hospital. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

There are test clinics in five Renfrew County communities this week.

Its residents should call their family doctor and those without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 to register for a test or if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.

In western Quebec:

Outaouais residents now can get a walk-in test in Gatineau five days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond and at recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.

They can call 1-877-644-4545 to make an appointment or if they have other questions.

As of mid-August, there were longer wait times for test results here compared to some other regions of Quebec.

First Nations:

Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.

Akwesasne has had 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Most are linked back to a gathering on an island with a non-resident who wasn't showing symptoms at the time.

It has a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 80 kilometres away for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse. Face coverings are now mandatory in its public buildings.

People in Pikwakanagan can book an appointment for a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259.

Kitigan Zibi is planning for an Aug. 29 election with changes depending on the status of the pandemic at that time. It plans on starting to open schools and daycares next month.

For more information

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