What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Thursday, May 6

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

Key updates on COVID-19 in the region

A person photographs tulips at Major's Hill Park in Ottawa on May 5, 2021, ahead of the official start of the Canadian Tulip Festival. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Recent developments:

What's the latest?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 106 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and two more deaths.

Quebec is set to offer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children age 12 to 17 teens after it was approved by Health Canada. 

Health Minister Christian Dubé says the goal for the first dose is the end of June and the second, by the start of the next school year. Full details were not announced.

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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 Tuesday, 24,998 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,622 known active cases, 22,859 resolved cases and 519 deaths.  

Public health officials have reported more than 45,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 42,200 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 178 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 201.

Akwesasne has had more than 660 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.

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.

The transfer of COVID-19 patients from other regions to Ottawa hospitals continues. As of the most recent update Tuesday, there were about 35 COVID-19 patients from other communities in Ottawa ICUs.

What can I do?

Eastern Ontario:

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

People should only leave home for essential reasons like getting groceries, seeking health care and exercising. They should stay within their immediate area and province unless it's absolutely necessary to leave.

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

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

An empty tennis court is seen May 4, 2021 in Ottawa. Outdoor tennis courts are part of the Ontario government's stay-at-home measures. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

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

Ontario has indefinitely moved to online learning. Daycares remain open.

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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.

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 Monday across the Outaouais. Some rules start to loosen that day.

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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 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.

Masked pedestrians wait at an intersection in downtown Ottawa in May 2021. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

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.

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. 

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

About 845,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including about 381,000 doses to Ottawa residents and about 165,000 in western Quebec.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating people age 50 and older at its clinics. People can book appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.

The province has opened up appointments for people age 18 and up in Ottawa's K1T, K1V and K2V "hot spot" postal codes.

Ottawans in the city's priority neighbourhoods above age 18 and Indigenous people above age 16 can check their eligibility online with the city.

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

Ontario has a staggered rollout plan to expand its vaccination campaign week-by-week, allowing everyone over age 18 to make an appointment starting the week of May 24. 

The province expects to have given a first dose to about two-thirds of adults by the end of May.

Next week, people as young as age 40 can book through the province. Eligibility is also expected to include a wider range of health conditions and job types, such as transit and grocery store employees.

Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites for details. Some have said they won't have the vaccine supply to cover everyone who becomes eligible right away.

Western Quebec

Quebec's vaccination plan covers people age 40 and older in the Outaouais, along with essential workers and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, including pregnancy.

It's also doing a staggered expansion, reaching down to children as young as 12 in June. Its next expansion is people aged 35 to 39, starting tomorrow.

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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.

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.

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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