What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Jan. 16

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

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

A woman wearing a mask walks in downtown Ottawa on Jan. 14, 2021, the first day of a new provincewide stay-at-home order. (Brian Morris/CBC)

Recent developments:

What's the latest?

Another 136 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the nation's capital on Saturday, continuing a trend of daily-case totals in the triple digits that started shortly after Christmas.

No new deaths were recorded by Ottawa Public Health (OPH), however. 

Health officials in western Quebec recorded 43 new cases on Saturday. The region's death toll remains unchanged at 139. 

Some employees at Costco's regional offices in Ottawa are wondering why they're being told to come into the workplace during Ontario's current stay-at-home order when they could easily do their jobs from home.

With the province under that order until Feb. 11, Ontario Provincial Police have seen an uptick in the number of people calling 911 with questions about it — and they would like those people to stop.

High-ranking police officials in both Ottawa and Kingston, Ont., say they won't be stopping people on the streets just to see if they're complying with the order. 

Speaking of compliance: if you're confused by the rules round public gatherings while the order is in effect, and what's allowed and what isn't, you're not alone.

On the vaccination front, most of Ottawa's long-term care residents have now received their first dose. OPH says the second phase of the city's vaccine rollout likely won't begin until closer to April.

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, 12,163 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa since the start of the pandemic. There are 1,286 known active cases, 10,475 resolved cases and 402 deaths from COVID-19. 

Public health officials have reported more than 21,800 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 18,800 resolved cases.

A hundred and three people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 139 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?

Ontario says people need to only leave home when essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't be stopping people just for being outside.

Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning.

A highway sign notifies drivers to stay home as they make their way along the Queensway in Ottawa on Jan. 14, 2021, the first day of a new province-wide stay-at-home order. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings can't have more than five people and it's strongly recommended people stick to their own households.

People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household.

Outdoor recreation venues remain open.

In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery.

The province will announce by Wednesday which schools can offer general in-person learning. The Ottawa-Carleton School Board has said it won't bring that back for secondary schools until at least Feb. 1.

Child-care centres remain open.

The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11.

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In western Quebec, residents are also asked not to leave home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with, with an exception for people living alone. They can visit one other home.

Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules.

The province has shut down non-essential businesses and has extended secondary school closures until next week.

Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout Quebec.

Those rules are in place until Feb. 8.

A man wears a mask as he walks across the Mackenzie King Bridge in downtown Ottawa on Jan. 15, 2021. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

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.

People can be contagious without symptoms.

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

Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. 

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

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 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 returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

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 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.

COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the Ottawa-Gatineau area.

The exception for now is Renfrew County, which says it expects its first doses early next month.

Ontario wants every long-term care resident and worker to have at least one shot by Feb. 15. Ottawa's mayor said Jan. 15 that was expected to happen by the end of that day in his city.

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

Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by then.

Quebec has a somewhat controversial policy of giving a single dose to as many people as possible rather than giving fewer people two doses. It says people will get their second dose within 90 days.

As of Jan. 14, western Quebec's health authority had given out about 4,400 doses. It says it will have reached all of its long-term care homes by early next week.

A man in a mask makes a delivery in downtown Ottawa on Jan. 14, 2021, the first day of a new provincewide stay-at-home order. People are still allowed to go to work under the new restrictions. (Brian Morris/CBC)

Where to get tested

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 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 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.

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

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

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic.

Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions.

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

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In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation.

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

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has had 116 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border, 25 of them active cases, and five deaths. More than 230 people have tested positive across the community.

Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site 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.

Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 18. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its only confirmed case in November. 

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.

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