What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 7
Key updates on COVID-19 in the region
- Ottawa COVID hospitalizations and wastewater rise.
- Seven recent local COVID-19 deaths are being reported.
- Ontario sets a new COVID-19 hospitalization record.
- CHEO shares advice about infants and Omicron.
- Some Ontario parents pull their kids out of daycare because of limited testing.
Ottawa's COVID-19 hospitalizations and wastewater rise even further Friday as several recent local COVID deaths are reported. The province says deaths reported today were over a span of 10 days as it caught up on record-keeping.
Ontario reported a pandemic high of 2,472 people with COVID-19 in hospital on Friday. Eastern Ontario patients make up about five per cent of that total, which is less than the region's share of the population.
Doctors from the Ottawa area's children's hospital share advice about vaccinations, symptoms and gathering during the Omicron wave, particularly when it comes to pregnancy and infants.
Many Ontario parents are opting to keep their young kids — who aren't yet eligible for vaccination — out of daycares in response to rising COVID-19 levels and recent changes to testing availability.
Numbers to watch
Testing can't meet demand during the Omicron surge, meaning people with COVID-19 won't be reflected in the case count. Numbers such as hospitalizations, test positivity and wastewater monitoring can help fill in some of the grey areas.
WATCH | What these hospital numbers do and don't show:
The number of Ottawa residents admitted to hospital for COVID treatment has been rising since around Christmas amid a health-care staffing shortage.
Test positivity has been going up to record levels since the last week of November and the levels of coronavirus in its wastewater have been rising for nearly a month.
As of Friday, Ottawa has had 48,407 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are 8,177 known active cases — which may actually be three to 10 times higher — 39,599 cases are considered resolved and 631 people have died from the illness.
Local public health officials have reported more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 75,000 cases now resolved.
More than 170 local patients are in the area's hospitals for COVID-19 treatment, which has been steadily rising this week. Thirty are in an ICU, which has been more stable.
In eastern Ontario outside of Ottawa, 262 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 224.
Akwesasne has had more than 1,500 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 18 deaths between its northern and southern sections.
Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has 91 confirmed cases and one death. Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg had 52 confirmed and one death as of mid-December 2021. Pikwàkanagàn has 48 confirmed cases, all in this current wave.
What are the rules?
The province's private gathering limits are five people indoors and 10 outside until at least Jan. 26.
Indoor dining, gyms and museums are also closed, while other businesses and religious services can reach 50 per cent capacity.
In-person learning is paused until Jan. 17.
WATCH | Some doctors have to stay home to care for kids:
The province's vaccine passport is required for people age 12 and up in many public places.
People can prove they have at least two doses with a paper or digital document. These documents have to have a QR code and medical exemptions have to have one by Monday.
Indoor gatherings involving more than one household bubble are prohibited. People outside between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. without a valid reason may face fines.
Restaurant dining rooms are closed, as well as places of worship except for small funerals. Indoor sports have also been cancelled.
All schools are closed to in-person learning until Jan. 17.
A vaccine passport is in place for most people age 13 and up in many public spaces. As of Jan. 18, that includes provincially run liquor and cannabis stores.
People can use an app or show paper proof they have at least two doses; its health minister said in early January they'll eventually have to have three.
WATCH | Quebec's proof-of-vaccination changes:
What can I do?
Current evidence suggests the dominant Omicron variant is more contagious than other types of the novel coronavirus, but generally less deadly for vaccinated people without underlying conditions.
That level of spread puts vulnerable people at risk and is making staffing a challenge in many sectors, delaying many more medical procedures and increasing the workload of health-care staff who aren't sick or isolating.
WATCH | What it's like in hospitals right now:
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Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands and have supplies in case they need to isolate.
Travellers older than 12 years and four months must be fully vaccinated to board a plane, train or marine vessel in Canada.
The federal government is officially advising against non-essential international travel.
The U.S. requires everyone crossing a land, air or water border to be fully vaccinated. People flying there will need proof of a negative COVID test within a day of departure.
The hope is that other countries will accept provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.
Health Canada has approved Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for children as young as five. Both local provinces generally recommend doses for kids age five to 11 be given at least eight weeks apart, with limited exceptions.
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Everyone 18 and older in Ontario can now try to book third shots, though local resources don't always meet demand, after 84 days have passed since their second dose. Fourth doses are being offered to older people in care homes starting 84 days after their third.
People who are 45 and older can receive a third dose in Quebec, along with those who have certain health conditions. That is expanding in stages by age until Jan. 17, with the next coming Monday to age 40.
There have been more than 4.5 million COVID-19 first, second and third vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million residents.
Eligible people can look for provincial appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.
The province has made some moves to prioritize third doses for education workers and other groups.
Pharmacies and some family doctors offer vaccines through their own booking systems.
Clinics for children are in schools and kids will need written consent from a parent to be vaccinated there.
Symptoms and testing
WATCH | Advice for managing Omicron symptoms at home:
"Long-haul" symptoms can last for months.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
In eastern Ontario:
Only high-risk individuals who are symptomatic or who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can get a laboratory-checked PCR test during the Omicron-fuelled demand, while others should assume they have COVID if they have symptoms and isolate.
Qualified people can check with their health unit for clinic locations and hours.
WATCH | The staffing problems in long-term care and retirement homes:
Rapid and take-home tests are available in select malls, libraries and LCBOs, Kingston-area family doctor offices, and some child-care settings when risk is high. Free provincial giveaways are ending Jan. 14 to focus supply on key groups.
Travellers who need a test have local options to pay for one.
In western Quebec:
This province has also stopped giving PCR tests to the general public.
PCR tests will be reserved for those in high-risk settings such as hospitals, long-term care homes, detention centres and homeless shelters.
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 COVID-19 test and vaccine information online or at 613-575-2341. Residents can call there to log a rapid test result and can call its Community in Quarantine Program if they need help getting essentials while isolatng.
The neighbouring Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is also offering tests.
People in Pikwàkanagàn can call a COVID-19 hotline at 613-401-0428 for updates on its changing response now that it has its first confirmed cases. It's offering PCR tests four mornings a week.
Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test or wants to log a positive rapid test result can call 613-967-3603 and should watch the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.
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.
Ottawa's dedicated vaccine clinic for Indigenous people ends Jan. 15.