What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 28

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

Key updates on COVID-19 in the region

A cyclist rides under a bridge in downtown Ottawa, with the Fairmont Château Laurier in the background, on April 27. (Christian Patry/CBC)

Recent developments:

What's the latest?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 217 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths Wednesday, pushing the city's pandemic death toll over 500.

Ontario has issued an emergency order that will allow hospitals to transfer some patients to long-term care or retirement homes without their consent if required.

Ontario's ministers of labour and finance are scheduled to hold a news conference at 3:15 p.m. ET. A source confirmed to CBC News the announcement will be about paid sick leave in the province.

Internal government documents obtained by CBC News indicate Ontario's long-term care sector was ill-prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province's auditor general agrees.

How many cases are there?

The region is in a record-breaking third wave of the pandemic that includes more dangerous coronavirus variants, straining contact tracing and pushing hospitals past their limits.

As of Wednesday, 23,864 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 2,363 known active cases, 20,998 resolved cases and 503 deaths.

Public health officials have reported nearly 43,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 39,100 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 177 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 193.

Akwesasne has had about 625 residents test positive and 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 11, with one death. Pikwakanagan hasn't had any.

Federal help is coming to Ontario, as are many hospital patients from outside the region: at least 27 of those patients in Ottawa ICUs as of Tuesday along with 33 ICU patients from Ottawa.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch.

What can I do?

Eastern Ontario:

Ontario is under a stay-at-home order until at least May 20

People can only leave home for essential reasons such as getting groceries, seeking health care and exercising. They're asked to only leave their immediate area or province if absolutely necessary.

A paddler on the Rideau River in Ottawa this spring. (Ian Black/CBC)

The vast majority of gatherings are prohibited, with exceptions that include small activities with households and small religious services.

Golf courses and tennis and basketball courts are among the shuttered recreation venues.

Police checkpoints are set up between Ontario and Quebec, but are not running 24/7. Officers in Ontario have the power to stop and question people if they believe they've gathered illegally.

WATCH | Air ambulance service says it's seeing unprecedented demand:

Ontario ambulance service sees more demand as COVID-19 patients transferred to other hospitals

1 year ago
Duration 1:19
Ornge, Ontario’s land and air ambulance service, says it’s seeing unprecedented demand due to a large number of COVID-19 patients being transferred to less-busy hospitals. Video footage supplied by Ornge.

Most non-essential businesses can only offer curbside pickup. Access to malls is restricted and big-box stores can only sell essential items.

Gyms and personal care services are closed, while restaurants are only available for takeout and delivery. Ontario has indefinitely moved to online learning. Daycares remain open.

Local health units and communities can also set their own rules, as Ottawa's is doing around playgrounds, Prince Edward County's is doing around travel and Kingston is doing for Breakwater Park.

Western Quebec

Premier François Legault has said the situation is critical in Gatineau and is asking people there to only leave home when it's essential. 

Schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses are closed until at least May 10 in the Outaouais.

The view from the east of the Gatineau, Que., left, and Ottawa skylines along the Ottawa River April 19, 2021. (Christian Milette/Radio-Canada)

Private gatherings are banned, except for a person who lives alone seeing one other household. Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people.

The curfew is from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

People there are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only leave their immediate area for essential reasons — under threat of a fine if they go to a yellow or green zone.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Coronavirus variants of concern are more contagious and are taking over.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed —  keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with, even with a mask on.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec.

OPH says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.

People cross a street in downtown Gatineau, Que.'s Hull community in late April 2021. (Guillaume Lafreniere/Radio-Canada)

People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and have to pay for their stay in a quarantine hotel if entering by air.

Direct flights from India and Pakistan are banned until late May.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Quebec and Ontario.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems get help with errands.


Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada. Delivery of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine to the provinces should start this week.

Canada's task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second.

About 725,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including more than 330,000 doses to Ottawa residents and about 133,000 in western Quebec.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is now in Phase 2 of its vaccine rollout, with the first doses during Phase 1 generally going to care home residents and health-care workers. 

All health units in eastern Ontario are now vaccinating people age 60 and older at their clinics, while it's 55 and over in Renfrew County. People can book appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.

The province has opened up appointments for people age 45 and up in Ottawa's K1T, K1V and K2V "hot spot" postal codes.

Separately, some Ottawans in priority neighbourhoods age 50 and up can check their eligibility online and make an appointment through the city for a pop-up clinic.

Indigenous people over age 16 in Ottawa can make an appointment the same way.

People who are 40 or will be this year can contact participating pharmacies for a vaccine appointment. Pharmacies are now allowed to offer walk-in vaccines if they wish.

A group of people that had been waiting outside a Loblaws pharmacy in Ottawa since 6:30 a.m. wait to be seen by the pharmacist who will deliver their first COVID-19 vaccines April 26, 2021. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Phase 2 also includes people with underlying health conditions, followed by essential workers who can't work from home. Licensed child-care workers can make an appointment as of tomorrow.

Phase 3 should involve vaccinating anyone older than 16 starting in July. Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites for details.

Western Quebec

Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers.

The vaccination plan now covers people age 45 and older, along with essential workers and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Pregnant people now qualify.

People age 45 to 79 can get a same-day appointment at Gatineau's Palais des Congrès.

Officials expect everyone who wants a shot to be able to get one by by Fête nationale on June 24.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. Pharmacists there have started giving shots with appointments through the province.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

WATCH | I tested positive for COVID-19 twice:

Imam Majed Jarrar tested positive for COVID-19, twice

1 year ago
Duration 4:16
After his whole family fell ill with the virus, the father of three says he feels torn between helping his congregation and protecting his kids.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours; Ottawa is making some changes as demand slightly eases.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies.

Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms, their contacts and people who have been told to get tested.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment and check wait times online.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario.

Akwesasne has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only and a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-1175. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and in Kitigan Zibi, 819-449-5593.

Tyendinaga's council is asking people not to travel there to camp or fish.

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

For more information

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