What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, March 20

CBC Ottawa's latest roundup of key points to know during the coronavirus pandemic.

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

Your daily digital newscast for Friday, March 20

2 years ago
Lucy van Oldenbarneveld, Adrian Harewood and Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco bring you the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa. 12:32

Recent developments:

What you should know

Ottawa Public Health continues to ask all residents to exercise social distancing as much as possible because people may be carrying the novel coronavirus without knowing it.

This means if you can, you should work from home, limit the number of others you come into close contact with, avoid non-essential trips out, cancel gatherings and try to keep a two-metre distance from others.

The current recommendation from Ottawa Public Health is that time spent outdoors is fine — so long as you keep your distance from others. 

It's to reduce the burden on the health-care system, particularly intensive care units, as much as possible, and could be in place for months.

WATCH: Catch up on Ottawa's local news for March 20

Returning travellers who do not self-isolate are putting everyone at risk, Ontario premier says

2 years ago
Premier Doug Ford is asking Ontarians returning from abroad to follow self-isolation procedures, saying the province does not have the resources to enforce public health guidance. 0:59

If you've recently left the country or have been in close contact with someone who has travelled, you should self-isolate for 14 days.

People should also avoid leaving the house if they feel sick for 14 days or until 24 hours after symptoms are gone, whichever is longer.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency March 17, banning organized public events larger than 50 people and closing daycares, recreation centres and eat-in restaurants for the rest of the month.

Quebec put similar measures in place on Sunday, March 15.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and take-out and drive-thru food businesses will stay open but many other stores are temporarily closing, leaving workers uncertain about how they'll make ends meet.

Some grocery stores and pharmacies are opening early for more vulnerable customers, including the elderly.

Friday, March 20, certain Ottawa Hospitals announced they were banning most visitors.

WATCH: Premier says returning travellers must take self-isolation seriously

Treat every interaction as ‘a potential source of infection,’ OPH says

2 years ago
Vera Etches, with Ottawa Public Health, says it’s likely that there are many undiagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the community and that residents should limit their interactions as much as possible. 0:40

The federal government's $82-billion aid package should start rolling out in two to three weeks, said Finance Minister Bill Morneau Thursday, March 19.

The Canada-U.S. border closes to non-essential travel overnight Friday, March 20. Illegal border crossings will be stopped.

A number of new closures in Ottawa-Gatineau, including many municipal facilities, went into effect March 16.

Public transit is still running, but with changes including rear-door boarding on buses and now on LRT trains, and less-frequent service.

WATCH: Every interaction is a risk

Ontario government launches online learning portal amid COVID-19 pandemic

2 years ago
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the new portal will contain math and literacy resources to “help mitigate learning loss” while schools are closed. 0:59

Ottawa residents needing information can still call 311 and all essential services such as garbage and recycling collection, and some bylaw services, will continue. 

A new city task force struck up Friday, March 20 focuses on the city's vulnerable.

Universities have asked everyone who can to move out of residences by Sunday, March 22 unless they're in exceptional circumstances, such as some international students.

Ontario is launching an e-learning program as its schools are closed until at least April 5.

WATCH: Education Minister Stephen Lecce explains the new portal

The way we test for coronavirus has changed, OPH says

2 years ago
In a news conference conducted by telephone on Thursday, Vera Etches, Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health, explains how testing methods for COVID-19 have changed and why. 0:59


Spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa

Nineteen people in Ottawa have now tested positive for COVID-19, including Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, a City of Ottawa employee at 100 Constellation Dr., a Health Canada employee at Tunney's Pasture, an Ottawa Senator and three employees of tech company Ciena in Kanata. 

One person with a suspected case of COVID-19 is currently in hospital. Another, a person in their 60s, was hospitalized but has since been released.

There are a total of 38 cases in eastern Ontario — 12 separated from the public at CFB Trenton — and two confirmed cases in the Outaouais. 

The Belleville-area Hastings Prince Edward Public Health said Thursday, March 19 it had its first case among the public then announced a second Friday afternoon. Both recently returned to Canada after travelling.


As of Friday afternoon, Quebec had 139 confirmed cases, Ontario had 318 — five are no longer considered contagious — and 951 confirmed and presumptive cases nationwide. 

Twelve deaths in Canada have been linked to COVID-19: two of them in Ontario and one in Quebec.


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.

Anyone who 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 should go to the emergency room. 

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, like touching or handshaking, and it can spread from person to person via surfaces like door handles, mobile phones, tables and light switches. 

That's why washing hands thoroughly and keeping surfaces clean, along with social distancing, can help stop its spread.

Important links and contacts

Anyone in Ottawa who has a new or worsening cough or fever and has travelled outside Canada, or has been in contact with a confirmed case, should go to the COVID-19 screening centre at the Brewer Arena.

WATCH: How Ottawa has changed its test for COVID-19

If you don't have symptoms, you won't be tested and should self-isolate for 14 days.

The centre is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 151 Brewer Way, off Bronson Avenue near Carleton University. It's unique because you don't have to call ahead.

It's meant to divert non-emergency cases away from hospitals.


People with mild symptoms who do not meet these criteria should self-isolate until 24 hours after their symptoms are gone.

People with severe symptoms should call 911.

In western Quebec:

Gatineau's downtown assessment location is at 135 Blvd. Saint-Raymond.

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.

Anyone else who is sick should avoid direct contact with vulnerable people and practise social distancing.

If your symptoms require a trip to the emergency room, call ahead to that number if your condition allows to let them know your travel history.

WATCH: Quebec to increase COVID-19 testing, premier says

In eastern Ontario outside Ottawa:

The assessment centre in Kingston at the Hotel Dieu Hospital at 166 Brock St., is moving to the Kingston Memorial Centre as of Saturday, March 21.

Its hours expand from 1 to 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. when it moves to 303 York St.

Renfrew County is providing home testing under some circumstances.

The province generally advises people experiencing symptoms to first call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, then their local health unit.

The public health unit in the Belleville area is asking people only call it at 613-966-5500 if they've checked the website and still have questions.

Kingston's public health unit says check its website and call Telehealth with remaining questions.

Renfrew County's unit says people should only call 613-735-8654 ext. 577 if they have symptoms and have returned to Canada within 14 days. The same advice goes for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark's unit at 613-345-5685.

The Mohawk communities of Akwesasne and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte have declared a state of emergency to prepare for possible cases.

The Algonquin communities of Kitigan Zibi and Pikwakanagan have scaled back non-essential services and are asking residents to follow general public health advice.

For more information, visit:

WATCH: Why Ottawans can't get complacent 

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