What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sept. 16

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

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

A sign in downtown Ottawa's ByWard Market recommends wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic Sept. 14, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Recent developments: 

What's the latest?

Health officials have shut down a high school in the Ottawa Valley after a third staff member tested positive for COVID-19 — making it the first school in Ontario to close since the new school year began.

All in-person classes at Fellowes High School in Pembroke, Ont., were halted Wednesday after the latest case was linked to two previous ones, also involving staff members.

Ontario is reducing the size of social gatherings allowed in certain regions amid a surge in new COVID-19 infections, according to the premier's office. 

The province isn't saying where, when or what the new limit will be, and it is not expected to be announced today. Currently, gatherings of 50 people are allowed indoors and 100 outdoors.

Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday the change will include very heavy fines, something Kingston's medical officer of health also wants for that city.

Because of high demand, COVID-19 testing sites in Ottawa, Brockville, Ont., and Casselman, Ont., have reached their capacity for the day and are not taking any more people. Clinics are being added in Renfrew County.

Starting today, the Brewer Arena assessment centre will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, with public access from  8:45 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Ottawa is reporting 60 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, pushing the five-day average close to its highest point since the pandemic began. One more person in the city has died from COVID-19.

How many cases are there?

Testing has confirmed 3,447 people in Ottawa have had COVID-19.

Of those, 401 are active cases, 2,773 were considered resolved and 273 had died.

Overall, public health officials have reported more than 5,200 people with COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 4,300 of them considered resolved.

COVID-19 has killed 104 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 people have died in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 34 in the Outaouais and 18 in other parts of eastern Ontario.


What's open and closed?

Every local school board or service centre has started bringing students back. All classes should start by Friday.

More than 2,000 students in Ottawa's English school boards don't have their usual school bus because of a shortage of bus drivers.

WATCH | The link between schools opening and long test lines:

Some parents and children in the hours-long lines at some Ottawa COVID-19 testing stations say they're forced to get their child tested for school or daycare while others are concerned about their child's health. There’s also frustration about repeated testing every time a child has the sniffles. 1:47

Ontario is modifying Stage 3 of its reopening plan by reducing the size of gatherings allowed in some areas. The province has said all options are on the table to address the current surge in cases, and will issue a fall pandemic plan this week.

Kingston, Ont., has tightened its distancing rules in city parks.

WATCH | How local hospitals are doing:

Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, an intensive care physician at The Ottawa Hospital, says actions like hand washing, physical distancing and mask wearing have kept the pressure off local hospitals. 2:10

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

That province has warned some regions are close to having gathering sizes shrunk and losing dine-in service at restaurants.

A leaked internal government document offers more of a glimpse of what that might look like.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something.

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 you don't live with or have in their circle, including when you have a mask on.

Ottawa's medical officer of health is pleading with residents to reduce the number of people they're in close contact with as new cases of COVID-19 continue to surge.

A nearly empty Bayview station platform during the COVID-19 pandemic Sept. 14, 2020. (Simon Lasalle/Radio-Canada)

Masks are now mandatory in indoor public settings in all of eastern Ontario and Quebec, including transit services and taxis in some areas.

Quebec has given police the power to fine people ignoring mandatory mask laws.

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

WATCH | The National's COVID-19 Q&A:

An infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist answer questions about COVID-19 and back to school, including what to do with masks during recess and whether reusable lunch kits should be avoided. 7:13

Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.

In Ontario, that's the same period of self-isolation for anyone with symptoms. When self-isolating, only leave home or see other people if it's critically important, such as to go see a doctor.

Most people with a confirmed COVID-19 case in Quebec can end their self-isolation after 10 days if they have not had a fever for at least 48 hours and has had no other symptom for at least 24 hours.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems 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 cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. 

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

People should not get tested any sooner than five days after potential exposure, since it takes about that long for the virus to grow to be detectable by a test, said Ottawa's medical officer of health Vera Etches in early September.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Where to get tested

In eastern Ontario:

In Ottawa any resident can get tested, but record wait times have led Ottawa Public Health (OPH) to ask that testing be limited for now to people with symptoms or who have been referred for a test because of contact tracing.

Testing for the general public happens at one of four sites — including a new drive-thru testing centre that's unique because it's appointment-only.

Hours at two of Ottawa's very busy test sites will be extended by early next week, according to the doctor leading the city's test strategy. He wants more hours at its two other care clinics.

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.

The University of Ottawa has a test site open weekdays by appointment at its Lees campus for students and staff.

There's also a mobile testing van operated by Inner City Health that mostly serves people experiencing homelessness and some tests done in hospitals.

Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez speaks with the media on the first day of a Liberal cabinet retreat in Ottawa Sept. 14, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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

Others in Alexandria, Rockland and Cornwall require an appointment.

Vehicles wait outside the drive-thru COVID-19 test site in Casselman, Ont., east of Ottawa, on Sept. 15, 2020. (Frédéric Pepin/Radio-Canada)

In Kingstonthe Leon's Centre is hosting the city's test site though Gate 2. There's another test site at Queen's University's Mitchell Hall open 5 to 8 p.m. on weekdays.

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

You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the centre and in Picton by texting or calling. Only Belleville and Trenton run seven days a week.

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.

Renfrew County 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.

People can also visit the health unit's website to find out where testing clinics will be taking place each week. More have been added to meet demand.

In western Quebec:

Outaouais residents now can get a walk-in test in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond.

There are 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.

We hear from Grand Chief of Akwesasne Abram Benedict and Mayor of Cornwall Bernadette Clement. 10:43

First Nations:

Akwesasne has had 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases, most linked to a gathering on an island in July.

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 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

In early September, it expanded its gathering limit to 50 people. Its schools start bringing students back next week.

Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse. Its office and well-being centre are now open by appointment.

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

Kitigan Zibi's fitness centre and playground park are opening up with restrictions..

For more information

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