What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Jan. 30

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

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

People doing callisthenic exercises in Confederation Park in downtown Ottawa on Jan. 19, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa reported 74 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday but no new deaths. 
  • Vets say they're "swamped" by the surge in pandemic pets.
  • The fear of shortages is driving Ottawa gardeners to rush to buy seeds.

What's the latest?

The nation's capital reported 74 new COVID-19 cases Saturday but no deaths, according to Ottawa Public Health (OPH).

In western Quebec, health officials logged 13 new cases of the virus and one new death. 

Animal hospitals across Canada have their hands full with the sudden surge of newly purchased pandemic pets, a situation compounded by a nationwide shortage of qualified veterinarians.

Seed sellers in Ottawa are reporting early demand as COVID-19-weary gardeners plot their spring strategy.

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, 13,290 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 674 known active cases, 12,194 resolved cases and 422 deaths from COVID-19. 

Public health officials have reported more than 23,700 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 21,700 resolved cases.

One hundred and fourteen people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 153 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 must only leave home when it's essential. Some places, like Kingston, Ont., have started taking on patients from other regions struggling with hospital capacity.

People who leave home for non-essential reasons can be fined.

A restaurant on Sparks Street in Ottawa that still has condiments out despite being closed for dining in. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

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

Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five people. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential.

People who live alone are allowed close contact with one other household.

Students across eastern Ontario will be able return to the classroom as of Monday.

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

Most outdoor recreation venues remain open, including the Rideau Canal Skateway.

The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11. Health officials are weighing signs they have slowed COVID-19's spread with more contagious variants of COVID-19 to consider.

In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential to leave and not see anyone they don't live with. An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home.

Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged.

Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew means fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules. It no longer applies to people experiencing homelessness.

The province has shut down non-essential businesses and has brought students back to classrooms.

Those rules are in place until Feb. 8. Premier François Legault says he may lift some restrictions in parts of Quebec that day.

Distancing and isolating

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

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the months to come like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on.

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

OPH says residents should also 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.

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 started being given to local health-care workers and long-term care residents.

About 37,400 doses have been given out, including about 25,100 doses in Ottawa and 8,400 in western Quebec.

Pfizer temporarily slowing its vaccine production to expand its factory means some jurisdictions can't guarantee people will get the necessary second dose three weeks after the first. It may take four to six weeks.

Ontario is giving its available doses to care home residents.

Its campaign is still expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March or April, with vaccines widely available in August.

Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by then, hitting a groove of nearly 11,000 doses a day by early summer.

Quebec is also giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers, then remote communities, then older adults and essential workers and finally the general public.

It has had to delay vaccinating people in private seniors' homes.

Quebecers should get their second dose within 90 days.

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.

The KFL&A health unit says people that have left southeastern Ontario or been in contact with someone who has should get a test as they track a COVID-19 variant.

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

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.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. Alexandria's site moves to its hospital on Monday.

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

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 more than 150 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and six deaths. More than 300 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 20. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had their 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.

For more information

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