What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 30

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

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

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Recent developments:

What's the latest?

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he'll ask the province's health experts to come up with a plan to allow more businesses to reopen in the areas hardest hit by COVID-19 after a 28-day period of tighter public health restrictions expires next month. 

Ninety-seven more Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said Friday.

Two more deaths have been linked to COVID-19 in Ottawa, and one more in western Quebec.

Ottawa's medical officer of health is commending residents for taking action to slow the spread of COVID-19, but said the high number of active outbreaks in the city's long-term care homes is cause for concern.

How many cases are there?

As of Friday's update from OPH, 6,927 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are 698 known active cases, 5,906 resolved cases and 323 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 10,700 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 9,000 of them resolved.

Seventy-eight people with COVID-19 have died elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 42 in western Quebec.


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 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In Ottawa, which has been rolled back to a modified Stage 2, and the Gatineau area, which is a red zone, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential. 

Indoor dining at restaurants has been prohibited, while gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed and travel to another region is discouraged.

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Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says there are encouraging late-October signs the spread is slowing, but people should be wary of blind spots such as taking a lunch break at work or carpooling.

OPH is urging people not to have a Halloween party with other households or go trick-or-treating.

Every other eastern Ontario health unit except for the one for the Kingston, Ont., area is asking residents not to trick-or-treat and all five of them say if you do go out, to follow certain rules.

Even though most of the region has been declared a red zone, Quebec 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.

What about schools?

There have been more than 180 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.

As of mid-October, a small fraction of Ottawa students and staff had tested positive.

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 distance from others.

A pedestrian in a mask stands outside on a chilly day in Ottawa on Oct. 28. (David Richard/Radio-Canada)

Anyone with symptoms or who's ordered to do so by their local public health unit should self-isolate. The duration is subject to a range stipulated by health officials in both 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. 

Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.

Some universities can now welcome international students back into their residence, as long as they follow COVID-19 restrictions. But not all students are in a hurry to come to Canada. 8:01

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.

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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.

Testing numbers have been lower than the groups running it would like and they want people to know there are often same-day appointments available.

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

Ottawa has five permanent test sites, with additional mobile sites deployed wherever demand is particularly high.

WATCH | Ottawa's wastewater suggests COVID-19 levels are plateauing:

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Tyson Graber, co-lead investigator on the wastewater monitoring project, says levels of COVID-19 genetic material detected in the city’s wastewater appear to be reaching a plateau, a good indication that residents are flattening the curve. 1:05

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

Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other test site is in Napanee. Both are open seven days a week.

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

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.

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.

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First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. It expects to bring back its mobile site in the spring.

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 613-625-2259. 

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.

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