What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 25

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

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

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Recent developments:

What you should know

As Ontario sees a substantial surge in coronavirus cases, health officials continue to call on residents to keep up physical distancing — a term Ottawa Public Health is now using instead of social distancing because it better describes the practice — as people are likely carrying the novel coronavirus without knowing it or have mild symptoms.

This means avoid non-essential trips out, cancel gatherings even with friends or extended family, and work from home.

Ottawa Public Health says residents should only have close contact with members of their own household and try to stay at least two metres away from everyone else.

To help bolster the economy while many businesses stay closed and workers stay home, Ontario announced a $17-billion aid package Wednesday which includes an influx of cash for the health sector, direct payments to parents and tax breaks for businesses.

It comes the same day Ontario saw 100 new confirmed cases, its biggest jump in COVID-19 cases during the pandemic so far. None were in Ottawa; however, eight popped up in the wider eastern Ontario and western Quebec region. 

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For people who have recently returned to Canada or have been in close contact with someone who has travelled, public health officials say to self-isolate for 14 days.

That means staying home for two weeks and asking neighbours, friends or family to pick up groceries, medications and other supplies.

All deliveries should be left at the door to maintain a two-metre distance between yourself and others.

People who feel sick should also self-isolate at home for 14 days or until 24 hours have passed after symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.

LISTEN: Ottawa could see up to 4,000 cases a day during peak, says OPH 

In a news conference conducted by telephone, Vera Etches, chief medical officer of health, says the city could see as many as 4,000 new coronavirus cases a day based on current modelling. 0:39

The City of Ottawa declared a state of emergency Wednesday, March 25, according to Mayor Jim Watson at a largely-virtual city council meeting.

Among other things, it lets the city make purchases without following its usual process and gives the city manager more power.

WATCH: Ottawa in a state of emergency

During Wednesday’s first-ever virtual city council meeting, Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency, saying it will help staff deploy emergency services and procure vital equipment. Video courtesy Rogers TV. 0:53

Ontario and Quebec have ordered all non-essential businesses to close; however, both provinces released lists of businesses that are deemed essential and can stay open.

Those businesses include grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, hotels, funeral homes, movers, insurers and dozens of other businesses. 

Ontario Provincial Police said Friday officers will fine individuals or businesses that break the physical distancing rules.

Quebec police are also enforcing a ban on gatherings of two people.  In Gatineau a tenant was fined for holding a gathering Wednesday

The mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau are asking people to only cross the provincial border if it's absolutely necessary.

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Quebec schools are closed until at least May and Ontario has an e-learning program as its schools are closed until at least April 5. 

OC Transpo, the STO and Kingston Transit are scaling back service because ridership has dropped substantially since the start of the outbreak. 

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

Spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa

Ontario's Ministry of Health confirmed 27 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa, including Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, a health-care worker at the Ottawa Hospital, a City of Ottawa employee at 100 Constellation Dr., a Health Canada employee at Tunney's Pasture, two Ottawa Senators and three employees of tech company Ciena in Kanata. 

Ottawa's medical officer of health says computer models suggest 4,000 people in Ottawa have COVID-19, many without knowing it.

Vera Etches says the agency's modelling projects the virus could infect 4,000 people a day at its peak if physical distancing and self-isolation recommendations are not respected.

WATCH: Etches on what we know about current cases

Vera Etches, the city’s chief medical officer of health, said the number of current cases in Ottawa actually reflects the rate of infection 10-14 days ago due to a delay in getting test results. Video courtesy Rogers TV. 2:53

Eastern Ontario has 61 confirmed cases, including 13 still separated from the public at CFB Trenton. Most of the quarantined cruise ship passengers there left Tuesday, March 24.

There are another 13 confirmed cases in the Outaouais, all in urban areas. That includes a health-care worker at the Hull Hospital.

Ontario has 688 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus — eight have had two negative tests in a row and are considered resolved — and Quebec has 1,339 presumptive and confirmed cases.

Ottawa saw its first coronavirus-related death on March 25, Ottawa Public Health says. A man in his 90s with no travel history died 10 days after he first developed a fever. 

Thirty-six deaths in Canada have been linked to COVID-19: 13 in Ontario and six 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.

They may take up to 14 days to appear, which is why that's the period of self-isolation.

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.

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Dr. Samir Gupta explains why most people are better off washing their hands with soap and water than wearing gloves for protection against COVID-19. 1:54

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 if they touch their eyes, nose or mouth before washing their hands.

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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.

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.

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

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Ottawa streets are quiet on March 24, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

In western Quebec:

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

Any Outaouais resident should call the regional help line at 819-644-4545 if they have a cough or fever. They don't need factors such as travel to call.

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: Ottawa city manager explains why COVID-19 is a different type of emergency

In a news conference conducted by telephone Wednesday, Steve Kanellakos, city manager, says that with the social distancing measures required to stop the spread of COVID-19, communities aren’t able to pull together quite like they would in other emergencies. 0:41

Kingston, Ont.

The assessment centre in Kingston is now at the Kingston Memorial Centre at 303 York St. It is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If you develop mild to moderate symptoms after travelling, either contact your health care provider or go to that test site.

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

Other communities

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

The same advice goes for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark's unit at 1-800-660-5853 extension 2499.

Hawkesbury, Ont., has an assessment centre at 750 Laurier St. open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. 

Like Ottawa, only go there if you have new or worsening symptoms and have travelled or been in contact with a confirmed case. Go to CHEO if you're looking after an infant younger than six months old that fits this description.

Self-isolate if you have mild symptoms, go to the hospital if your symptoms are severe.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is also working on a special "Community Paramedic Program" for home visits.

Only people older than age 70, who have chronic health problems or compromised immune systems can call 613-933-1375 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to ask about one of these visits.

On Friday, the Winchester District Memorial Hospital announced it is preparing an assessment centre with the help of the EOHU.

The hope is the facility will never have to be used, the hospital wrote in a release.

Renfrew County is providing home testing under some circumstances.

Its public health unit says people should only call 613-735-8654 if they have worsening symptoms and have returned to Canada within 14 days.

The province of Ontario generally advises people experiencing symptoms to call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or their health care provider.

There has been a lag of four days or more to get Ontario's test results, with more being done per day than can be processed.

First Nations communities

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

Anyone in MBQ who has symptoms can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse. A home test may be possible after that.

In Akwesasne, community members are asked to carry their status cards when crossing the Canada-U.S. border for essential trips.

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

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