What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Dec. 30

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

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

A pedestrian is waiting for a light to cross Wellington Street in Ottawa on Dec. 29, 2020. (Andrew Lee/CBC News)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa is reporting 64 more COVID-19 cases; many key indicators continue to rise.
  • The city is unlikely to exit lockdown early if the trend persists, says Dr. Vera Etches. 
  • People visiting the city's outdoor rinks must wear masks, except those actively skating.  
  • The deadly outbreak at Extendicare Starwood is over.
  • Five more people have died of COVID-19 in western Quebec.

What's the latest?

Dr. Vera Etches says it's unlikely the nation's capital will leave lockdown before the rest of the province on Jan. 23. Many of the city's key indicators would qualify Ottawa as a red zone if trends continue.

Ottawa Public Health reported 64 more people testing positive for COVID-19 in its Wednesday update and no more deaths.

One of the city's largest outbreaks of the pandemic has ended at the Extendicare Starwood long-term care home.

Five more western Quebec residents have died of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the City of Ottawa suggests residents keep masks handy when visiting outdoor rinks.

It says anyone within 15 metres from the rink's edge is required to wear a mask.

According to Roger Chapman, director of by-law and regulatory services, "if rink users are actively engaged in skating, masks are not mandatory, but they are highly recommended as per public health guidelines."

An OC Transpo employee has tested positive for the virus. The individual began to develop symptoms on Dec. 27, and has been self-isolating since Dec. 28.

The city says the employee wasn't in close contact with the public but visited public areas along the Confederation Line. Contact tracing is underway.

How many cases are there?

In Ottawa, 9,866 people have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 473 known active cases, 9,001 resolved cases and 392 deaths linked to COVID-19. 

Public health officials have reported more than 17,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 15,700 resolved cases.

Ninety-two people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 112 people have died in western Quebec. 

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?

With Ontario's lockdown measures now in effect, the Ontario government says people need to stop gathering and moving across the province to avoid even more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths — including in areas with low case counts.

People are asked to only leave home when they need to, stay in their health unit and if they leave the province, to isolate for 14 days upon returning.

No indoor public events or indoor social gatherings are allowed, except with members of the same household or one other home for people who live alone.

Outdoor gatherings can't have more than 10 people and should be distanced and masked.

In-person shopping will be limited to essential businesses. Restaurants and non-essential businesses can offer curbside pickup and delivery.

Schools won't immediately return with in-person classes, except for some post-secondary classes. Child-care centres will be open, but day camps will not.

The plan is for rules to be in place for four weeks, though that could be changed for each health unit depending on the data.

Neighbours and friends Valerie Gapp, top right, and Lani Sommers, bottom right, play a game of virtual charades with their families, both in Ottawa, seen through a video call on Christmas Day, Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, when in-person gatherings were strongly discouraged. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

In the red zone of western Quebec, health officials are also asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential with an exception for people living alone to visit one other home.

Quebec has shut down non-essential businesses until at least Jan. 11 and has extended holiday school closures until the same date.

Being in the red means no indoor dining at restaurants, while gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.

Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout Quebec.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.

Health officials have confirmed Ottawa's first case of a new variant of COVID-19, first identified in the United Kingdom.

People can be contagious without symptoms.

This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.

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Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.

Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.

People walk a quiet Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa Dec. 28, 2020, early in Ontario's holiday lockdown. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands.

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

Symptoms and vaccines

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. Children can develop a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

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

The first COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by Health Canada.

Doses have been given to health-care workers in Ottawa as part of a pilot project and at CHSLD Lionel-Émond in Gatineau.

In Ontario, it's expected that will expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in April, with vaccines widely available to the public in August.

Where to get tested

Many clinics have different hours around Christmas and New Year's Day, with more information in the links below.

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.

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.

Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester.

People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.

Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. Another site is in Napanee.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test clinic visiting smaller communities or people with problems getting to a site.

Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.

They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.

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

People skate on Meech Lake in Chelsea, Que. on Dec. 19, 2020. Under Quebec's rules at the time, groups of up to eight people could exercise outside. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne had most of its known COVID-19 cases in November, but still has an active case. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel, and its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back.

It has a 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.

The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its first confirmed case in November and Kitigan Zibi logged its first in mid-December.

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

Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.

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.

For more information

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