What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 17
Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region
- Three cases reported in Kingston, Ont., area; all had travelled.
- Ontario's 1st COVID-19 related death is a man in his 70s in Barrie.
- Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency to ban organized public events and close rec centres, daycares, theatres and eat-in restaurants until March 31.
- Ottawa is closing any non-essential in-person service, such as client service centres.
What is the current situation?
People are urged to stay home if possible and limit close contact with other people, what's become known a social distancing.
Governments, services and businesses are making several changes because of this.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency Tuesday, March 17, banning organized public events larger than 50 people and closing daycares, rec centres and eat-in restaurants for the rest of the month.
He said it was recommended by public health officials and is needed to keep the health-care system from being overwhelmed, promising support for affected workers.
The province's chief medical officer of health had recommended these moves the day before, but didn't have the power to make them mandatory.
Grocery stores, pharmacies and businesses will stay open. Public transit is still running.
Quebec ordered similar closures on Sunday, March 15.
A number of new closures in Ottawa-Gatineau — including many municipal facilities — came into effect Monday, March 16, ahead of the provincial state of emergency.
The city announced announced further shutdowns of in-person services at city facilities including OC Transpo service centres. People needing information can still call 311 and all essential services — think garbage and recycling collection, or bylaw services — will continue.
The city is considering the possibility of deferring property taxes for those who'll be financially hit by COVID-19, and could issue its own state of emergency if necessary, said Pierre Poirier, who oversees the city's security and emergency management.
Poirier also said the city would like to be able to set up emergency centres for essential workers who need child care, but can't get clarity from the province on whether that would be allowed under the state of emergency.
"The city is very much aware of the the impact of the closures and that we're currently seeking clarification with respect to daycare services that could be provided for essential services," Poirier told reporters. "But at this point we've received nothing as yet from the province.
"We're hoping to provide a service for essential workers so that we can provide continued, ongoing services to our community."
The federal government is advising managers to consider telework for all employees at all work sites "while ensuring continued critical government operations and services to Canadians," according to an advisory from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
Tuesday's monthly Gatineau city council meeting is happening with just the mayor, clerk and council president — all other councillors have special permission to call in and residents are asked to email in questions for city officials.
Ottawa is not enforcing parking limits on residential streets until further notice.
Due to the number of residents working from home or self-isolating, effective immediately, the City is suspending the enforcement of overtime parking on unsigned residential streets until further notice.<br><br>All safety and mobility issues continue to be enforced. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OttNews?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OttNews</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OttCity?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OttCity</a> <a href="https://t.co/Q2Le0eClbB">pic.twitter.com/Q2Le0eClbB</a>—@OttawaBylaw
Hydro Ottawa is not disconnecting power until the end of July and is suspending "account collection actions" for further notice.
CHEO has cancelled non-urgent surgeries and appointments for three weeks.
The Mohawk community of Akwesasne, near Cornwall, has declared a state of emergency to prepare for possible cases and is asking for a screening centre.
OC Transpo and the STO are making everyone who doesn't need the front door's mobility features to enter through the back door of buses.
Kingston Transit is running a Saturday schedule every day but Sunday, when its buses will run as normal.
It's a temporary public health strategy aimed at slowing the potential spread of COVID-19 and buying time so the health-care system doesn't get overwhelmed by a sudden spike in patients.
There have been no new confirmed Ottawa cases in 24 hours.
Ottawa medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said Sunday COVID-19 is now likely spreading in the community, and therefore people should limit "non-essential trips" out of their homes and avoid crowded areas.
She said there could be 200 to 1,000 cases in Ottawa, given that many are likely undetected.
Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, there are now three travel-related cases in the Kingston area.
A woman in her 30s tested positive at the Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, Ont., over the weekend.
There have also been eight COVID-19 cases in the Trenton, Ont., quarantine for returning cruise ship passengers, four of them reported on Monday, March 16, and one in a person who visited Mont-Laurier, Que.
Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen said his mother was on the ship and has tested positive.
The local public health authority says there's no risk to the public in the Trenton area since none of these people have had contact with the public.
Quebec has 63 confirmed cases, Ontario has 189 (five of those are no longer considered contagious) and Canada has more than 420.
How do I protect myself and others?
Ottawa Public Health advises people to take the following measures to reduce the risk:
- Clean your hands frequently with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay at home if you are sick, which includes not visiting others in hospital or a care home.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
- If you don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
- Get a yearly flu vaccination.
- Socially distance yourself, or stay, two metres or more away from other people. This is the reason behind many cancellations.
- Self-isolate for 14 days if you're returning home from another country or spend extensive time with someone who has.
The City of Kingston is asking residents not to put used tissues and napkins in the green bin because they can blow around as the bin is emptied — put them in the garbage instead.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 range from a very mild, cold-like illness to a severe lung infection. The most common symptoms include fever, fatigue and a dry cough.
A trip to the emergency room is necessary if anyone has difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to wake up and bluish lips or face, the World Health Organization says.
Older people, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.
The coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can also spread through close, prolonged contact, such as touching or shaking hands, and it can spread from person to person via surfaces like door handles, mobile phones, tables and light switches.
There is no vaccine and no drugs to treat COVID-19. Hospitals can only help manage the symptoms.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says it's investigating if the coronavirus can be passed from someone who has it without symptoms. Experts believe that's possible, but rare.
What if I have symptoms?
If you are experiencing shortness of breath or other severe symptoms, you should call 911.
People with mild symptoms should, as has always been the case, stay at home.
- How to self-isolate during the coronavirus crisis
- Self-isolating? Here's some advice from people who've been there
During this pandemic, Ottawa Public Health asks you to stay home and self-isolate until 24 hours after your symptoms have fully gone away.
These people are encouraged to read Ottawa Public Health (OPH)'s information page.
Anyone who has a new or worsening cough or fever and has travelled outside Canada or has been in contact with someone who has recently travelled in the last 14 days should go to the COVID-19 screening centre at the Brewer Arena.
You do not need to and should not call OPH first.
If it's closed, call your health care provider. If neither are available, go to a hospital emergency room and look for special signs.
Do not take public transit, a taxi or use a ride-hailing service.
In western Quebec:
Anyone who's left the country should self-isolate for 14 days and call the province's toll-free line at 1-877-644-4545 if they have a cough or fever.
Unlike Ottawa, don't go to a medical clinic unless you're told to.
If you're experiencing severe symptoms, call that number if you can to give authorities a heads-up. The nurse will give you further instructions.
Anyone who hasn't left the country who has a cough or fever should self-isolate and call the toll-free number for advice.
Psychological support is available at 811.
In eastern Ontario outside Ottawa:
In general the province says to call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or your local health unit if you are experiencing symptoms.
There have been waits to speak to someone on Telehealth and Monday, the province said it was bringing in more nurses to work the lines.
The public health unit in the Belleville area is asking that you only call them at 613-966-5500 if you've checked their website and still have questions or if you develop symptoms after leaving the country.
Kingston's public health unit says check its website and call Telehealth with remaining questions.
Renfrew County's unit says to only call them at 613-735-8654 extension 577 if you have symptoms and have returned to Canada within 14 days.
If you need medical attention immediately, call 911 and mention any travel outside the country.
Again, avoid public transit.
The government of Ontario has put out a self-assessment tool.
How do we get tested?
You won't be tested if you don't have symptoms.
The Brewer Arena centre is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 151 Brewer Way, off Bronson Avenue near Carleton University.
It's meant to divert non-emergency cases away from hospitals and tested more than 1,100 people in its first four days.
Gatineau's downtown assessment location at 135 blvd Saint-Raymond has also opened.
It can do 56 tests a day and the test results take about 24 hours.
That city has not yet had a confirmed case — nor has Kingston, with an assessment centre for anyone with symptoms at Hotel Dieu Hospital at 166 Brock St., open 1 to 8 p.m.
Renfrew County is providing home testing under some circumstances.
For more information
- Ottawa Public Health,
- your local eastern Ontario health unit,
- the Ontario Ministry of Health (in several languages),
- the Public Health Agency of Canada.
- the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (in French).
What about travelling?
The federal government is asking Canadians to avoid non-essential international travel.
It is also telling all Canadians travelling anywhere internationally to return to Canada while they still can and has barred entry to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or Americans.
The prime minister said Monday, March 16 no one who is displaying symptoms will be permitted to board a flight to Canada and that air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every passenger.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Tuesday, March 17 people returning to Canada by land will be able to return, with special measures taken if they have symptoms.
Emergency loans will be available for people who need financial help to get home or to cover their costs while they work to get back to Canada.
As another measure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Trudeau said international flights will be funnelled to airports in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver to enhance screening as of Wednesday March 18.
Other airports, including Ottawa's, can still welcome flights from North America.
Travel advice from the federal government can be found on Global Affairs Canada's website.