What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 13

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

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

A transit rider leaves the uOttawa LRT station in late September. Starting today, anyone who rides OC Transpo without a mask — and doesn't have a legitimate reason for doing so — could be fined. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Recent developments:

What's the latest?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has reclassified the city as a COVID-19 "red" zone, which signals increasing spread and outbreaks, as well as limited hospital capacity.

The colour-coded system indicates the status of coronavirus in the community. Until Friday, the city had been an "orange" zone for several weeks.

An Ottawa man says he was left shaken Friday after another man at Rideau Centre told him wearing a mask made him want to "kill Asians."

Justin Tang, an award-winning photojournalist, told CBC he had just put on a mask and was heading through the mall's main doors when the incident occurred.

WATCH | Freelance photographer Justin Tang filed report with police after racist incident:

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Freelance photographer Justin Tang says he filed a report with police after being the target of pandemic-related racism at the Rideau Centre. 1:17

Forty-eight patients are currently receiving treatment for COVID-19 in Ottawa hospitals, up 10 from Monday. Ten of those patients are in intensive care. 

Hospitalizations in Ottawa peaked in late April when there were 62 patients and intensive care patients were highest in mid-April at 20.

OPH reported 116 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, and a nearly identical number of resolved cases.

While he said it's too early to celebrate, Quebec Premier François Legault said Tuesday the province's recent rise in confirmed cases seems to be stabilizing.

How many cases are there?

As of Ottawa Public Health (OPH)'s Tuesday update, there have been 5,662 Ottawa residents who've tested positive for COVID-19.

That includes 837 known active cases, 4,526 resolved cases and 297 deaths.

Overall, public health officials have reported nearly 8,500 cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 6,800 of those cases considered resolved.

COVID-19 has killed 104 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 people have died in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 34 in the Outaouais and 18 in other parts of eastern Ontario.

What can I do?

Ontario is telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with or one other home if people live alone.

In general, occasionally seeing a small number of other people at a time outdoors while remaining more than two metres apart carries a lower risk of transmission.

In Ottawa, the second wave is being driven by people ignoring health rules.

It has been rolled back to a modified Stage 2, closing dine-in service, gyms, theatres and more, and moved to red on its alert scale, with hospitalizations tripling in less than three weeks.

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The city's medical officer of health has said the entire health-care system is on the verge of collapse, while residents are being told not to have a Halloween party and consider alternatives to trick-or-treating.

Gatineau and parts of the Outaouais are now on red alert, which means restaurants and bars can't serve people indoors, organized sports are suspended and theatres and performance halls must close.

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Smita Pakhale, a staff respirologist and scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, says that could be why there are more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa marked “no information available.” 1:08

Residents need to stop seeing all people they don't live with, with some exceptions, and Quebecers are also urged not to travel to Ontario or between regions at different levels on its scale.

The National Capital Commission's partial closures of some Ottawa roadways to vehicles are now over. Its morning closures of some Gatineau Park roads end Oct. 25.

WATCH | The National's COVID Q&A:

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The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of school meal programs across Canada with more than two million students going to class on an empty stomach, the Breakfast Club of Canada says. Programs have been adapted to help kids in school and even when they aren’t in class. 2:05

What about schools?

There have been more than 160 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:

Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something.

People can be contagious without symptoms.

This means people should take precautions like 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.

WATCH | Another way Ottawa's vulnerable people are affected disproportionately:

Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and are recommended outdoors when people can't stay the proper distance from others.

As of today, OC Transpo's special constables will be fining people who refuse to wear masks on buses, trains and at stations without having a legitimate reason.

People wear face masks as they walk along a street in Montreal on Monday, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate, as should anyone told to by a public health unit. If Ottawans don't, they face a fine of up to $5,000 per day in court.

Kingston's medical officer of health has said people living with someone waiting for a test result now do not need to self-isolate, while someone with COVID-19 now has to isolate for at least 10 days from the day they first experience symptoms.

Most people with a confirmed COVID-19 case in Quebec can end their self-isolation after 10 days under certain conditions.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

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. 

Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.

Getting tested any sooner than five days after potential exposure may not be useful since the virus may not yet be detectable, says OPH.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

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

Where to get tested

In eastern Ontario:

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.

Anyone seeking a test should now book an appointment. Different sites in the area have different ways to book, including over the phone or going in person to get a time slot.

People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select Ottawa pharmacies.

Most of Ottawa's testing happens at four permanent sites, with additional mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high

There is limited walk-up capacity and telephone booking for some sites for people without internet access and priority groups such as health-care workers.

A message thanking health-care workers is seen outside the Madonna Care Community in May. The long-term care home is one of seven in the Ottawa-area slated to get help in the coming days from the Canadian Red Cross, but its operators say they never asked for it and don't need it. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

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

In Kingston, the test site is at the Beechgrove ComplexNapanee's test centre is open daily for people who call ahead.

People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.

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

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

In western Quebec:

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.

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms. People without symptoms can also get a test.

WATCH | School food programs pivot during COVID-19:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has a mobile 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.

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.

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.

For more information

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