What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 17

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

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

People crossing the road in downtown Ottawa on Oct. 16, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brian Morris/CBC)

Recent developments:

  • Here's how to keep Halloween happy during a pandemic.
  • Ottawa Public Heath (OPH) is reporting 70 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the city's total to 5,969 cases since the start of the pandemic. 
  • A Service Ottawa employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee last worked on Oct. 15 and remains in isolation. 

What's the latest?

With Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches urging against trick-or-treating this year, what now? How do you capture the spooky spirit of Halloween without the parties, parades and door-to-door candy collecting? 

CBC Ottawa has a few fun ideas for you and your family. 

OPH reported 70 new cases and declared 77 more cases resolved on Saturday. 

Updated projections in Quebec suggest that even with the closure of bars and restaurants, the cancellation of organized sports and further restrictions in schools put in place earlier this month, the province's COVID-19 numbers will continue to rise into 2021 unless residents reduce their contact with one another.

Halloween decorations on a porch in Ottawa on Oct. 13, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

How many cases are there?

As of OPH's Saturday update, 5,969 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 785 known active cases, 4,883 resolved cases and 301 deaths.

Public health officials have reported nearly 9,000 cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 7,400 of them resolved.

COVID-19 has killed 104 people in the region outside Ottawa, none since early September.

What can I do?

Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with or one other home if people live alone.

In Ontario, occasionally seeing a small number of people outdoors while more than two metres apart carries a lower risk.

Locally, it's different because the coronavirus is spreading more widely than elsewhere: Ottawa is asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.

Western Quebec residents also need to stop seeing all people they don't live with, with some exceptions.

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 must close.

Quebecers are also urged not to travel to Ontario or between regions at different levels on its scale except for essential reasons.

Even in areas on red alert, Premier François Legault said kids can trick-or-treat as long as they don't go with friends and precautions are taken when giving out candy.

A woman walks past a flu shot sign on a pharmacy in Ottawa Oct. 15. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Ottawa's medical officer of health said its health-care system is on the verge of collapse, with hospitalizations doubling in less than three weeks and delays getting test results.

Residents in the capital are being told not to have a Halloween party with other households or go trick-or-treating.

Ottawa has been rolled back to a modified Stage 2, closing dine-in service, gyms, theatres and more.

Residents of long-term care homes in Ottawa, Toronto and Peel region are now not allowed to go out for social or personal reasons.

Sports using City of Ottawa facilities are limited to practices and teams must restrict the number of players and coaches, causing some leagues to suspend their season.

What about schools?

There have been about 175 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 such as 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.

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.

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, Ont., has slightly different rules.

Some people waiting for test results in Quebec don't have to stay home. 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.

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 pharmacies in Belleville, Kingston and Ottawa.

Most of Ottawa's testing happens at four permanent sites, with additional mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high and another planned for Orléans.

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

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

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.

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

In western Quebec:

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.

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.

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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