What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, Oct. 18

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

Key updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the region

A man runs through Confederation Park on Saturday. OPH reported 70 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, but no new deaths. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa public health officials reported two more people have died from COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the city's death toll to 303. 
  • A Service Ottawa employee has tested positive. The employee last worked on Oct. 15 and remains in isolation. 
  • A long-term care home in Hawkesbury, Ont., has had its first death from the novel coronavirus.
  • Here's how to capture the spirit of Halloween during a pandemic.

What's the latest?

Two more people have died from COVID-19 in the nation's capital, according to Ottawa Public Health (OPH) on Sunday. The city's death toll now stands at 303. 

Ottawa has also marked another grim milestone, with health officials reporting the city's 6,000th confirmed case since the start of the pandemic. 

COVID-19 has also killed another person in western Quebec, the first death in the region since early September. In total, there have been 35 deaths in the Outaouais.

One of the seven Ottawa-area long-term care homes that recently learned they'd be getting support from the Canadian Red Cross is also reporting its first death from COVID-19.

The Prescott and Russell Residence in Hawkesbury, Ont., has now had 35 cases, with 27 residents and eight staff members testing positive.

As the recent resurgence of the coronavirus has put Halloween under a cloud of uncertainty, two spooky local businesses are talking about how they've had to adjust their plans.

How many cases are there?

As of OPH's Sunday update, 6,036 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 790 known active cases, 4,943 resolved cases and 303 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 9,100 cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 7,500 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 Ottawa — which has been rolled back to a modified Stage 2 — health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential. Indoor dining has been prohibited, while gyms, cinemas, casinos and performing arts venues are all closed.

Residents of long-term care homes 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.

Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health, has said the national capital's health-care system is on the verge of collapse, with hospitalizations rising swiftly and people experiencing delays getting test results.

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

Christian Dubé, Quebec's health minister, speaks at a press conference last week. Gatineau and parts of the Outaouais are now considered to be red zones, the highest level on the province's COVID-19 alert scale. (Marco Campanozzi/Canadian Press)

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

Ski hills in the Outaouais will also be able to open this winter.

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.

A man wears a mask as he shops in the Glebe on Thursday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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.

There's also a new site slated to open tomorrow in 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. Pop-up test sites are scheduled for Thursday in Carleton Place and Friday in Perth.

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.

People walk their dogs along a road in Renfrew County, near Arnprior, Ont., on Wednesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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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