- Students want a return to personal learning despite increasing COVID-19 cases.
- Many restaurants are switching to takeaway-only for New Year’s Eve as the number of cases and cancellations increases.
- Two pop-up sites are opening today to hand out quick antigen tests in Ottawa.
- Ottawa on Wednesday reported 653 new cases of COVID-19.
- Ontario reports a pandemic high of 10,436 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday.
What’s the latest
Some students say they fear a return to online learning, as there are still questions about whether the Ontario government will delay return to the classroom amid an increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant. With four days left to the expected start date for many schools, the province has not released a notice of its plans.
People in the restaurant industry are among the most eager to say goodbye to 2021, but several Ottawa restaurants are only choosing to head off to what is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year. As cancellations roll in and cases rise, they opt for staff safety.
A limited number of rapid antigen tests will be available in both St. Laurent Shopping Center and Walter Baker Recreation Center today. The Nepean location will also be open Friday.
Ottawa Public Health reported 653 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The province also reported a new pandemic height of 10,436 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, slightly topping the previous record set on Christmas Day.
How many cases are there?
Tests have recently fallen behind on demand caused by Omicron, meaning some people with COVID-19 will not be reflected in the case count so quickly. Hospital admissions and wastewater levels can help fill some of the gray areas.
As of Wednesday, Ottawa has had 39,823 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
There are 5,637 known active cases, while 33,665 cases are considered resolved and 621 people have died from the disease.
Local public health officials have reported more than 75,600 COVID-19 cases in eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 62,700 cases now resolved. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 250 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 223.
Akwesasne has had more than 1,250 residents tested positive for COVID-19 and has reported 18 deaths between its northern and southern sections.
Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 61 cases – four confirmed as Omicron – and one death. Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has had 52 cases and one death. Pikwakanagàn has not had any cases.
What are the rules?
The province’s private collection limits under the Omicron threat are 10 people indoors and 25 outside; companies can reach 50 percent capacity. Up to 10 people are allowed per. table at a restaurant or bar.
Local officials can also impose their own rules, and this has happened in Ottawa, Renfrew County, the Belleville area, and the Kingston area.
Health units for the areas of Belleville, Kingston and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark are asking residents to avoid personal gatherings, as are the councils for Akwesasne, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.
The province’s vaccine passport is required for people aged 12 and up in many public places. It will not be required for younger children.
People can prove their vaccine status with a paper document, a PDF file or a QR code. These documents must have a QR code per. January 4th, and medical exemptions must have one by January 10th.
Private gatherings are limited to six people or two family bubbles indoors, while 20 people are allowed outside.
Schools, bars, gyms, spas and cinemas are closed. Places of worship are limited to 50 percent capacity. Restaurants are limited to serving groups of six or two family bubbles and can only open from 6 p.m. 5 to 22. No singing or dancing is allowed.
Schools are closed for personal learning until at least January 10th.
A vaccine passport is in place for most people from the age of 13 and up in many public spaces. This does not apply to younger children. People can use an app or view paper proofs.
Other groups in the region are also coming out with their own COVID-19 vaccine policies, including for staff and visitors.
What can I do?
COVID-19 is spread primarily through droplets that can hang in the air. People can be infected without symptoms, even after receiving a vaccine.
Researchers are working to find out more about the very rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, its severity and the effectiveness of vaccines against it.
Health authorities say people should commit to the basics of getting vaccinated, staying home when they are sick, being tested if local circumstances allow, and seeing as few people in person as possible.
Masks, primarily medical, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and are recommended in crowded outdoor areas.
When and for how long to isolate oneself can vary by community, by testing availability, by type of exposure and by vaccination status.
Health Canada recommends that older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands and have supplies if they need to be isolated.
Travelers over the age of 12 and four months must now be fully vaccinated to board a plane, train or naval vessel in Canada.
The federal government officially discourages unnecessary international travel until at least January 12th.
People must be fully vaccinated and pre-approved to enter Canada and must again test negative for COVID-19.
The United States requires that anyone crossing a land, air, or water border be fully vaccinated. People flying there must have proof of a negative COVID test within one day of departure.
The hope is that other countries will accept provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.
Vaccines slow down the spread of all variants of COVID-19 and go a long way towards avoiding deaths and hospitalizations without offering total protection.
Four COVID-19 vaccines have been considered safe and approved in Canada with some age restrictions.
Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children as young as five years old. Both local provinces generally recommend that doses for children aged five to 11 be given at least eight weeks apart, with limited exceptions.
Some healthcare providers restrict Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to persons under 30 years of age.
Anyone 18 years and older in Ontario can now try to order third shots, though local resources do not always meet demand. The province has also shortened the required interval between the second and third dose to 84 days.
People who are 60 years and older can receive a third dose in Quebec along with those who have certain health conditions.
More than 4.1 million COVID-19 first, second and third vaccine doses have been administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million inhabitants.
Individuals born in 2016 and earlier can search for provincial appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.
Local health care providers have some flexibility, so check their websites for details. Many only offer pediatric clinics.
Pharmacies and some GPs offer vaccines through their own booking systems.
Anyone who is five years and older can get an appointment or visit a fixed or mobile on-call clinic.
Clinics for children are in schools and children must have the written consent of a parent to be vaccinated there.
Siblings can be booked together for a single period of time, and parents can check a box to signal if their child is nervous.
Symptoms and tests
COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection with common symptoms including fever, cough, headache, vomiting and loss of taste or smell.
“Long-distance” symptoms can last for several months.
Call 911 if you have severe symptoms.
Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.
In Eastern Ontario:
Ontario says to be tested by making an appointment at a clinic if you meet certain criteria. Check with your healthcare provider about the clinic’s locations and opening hours – some have had to triage due to current demand.
Selected pharmacies test people with symptoms along with certain people without symptoms.
Quick and home tests are available in malls, libraries and LCBOs (when supplies allow), family doctor offices in the Kingston area and some childcare environments when the risk is high. Students receive a package of test kits for the holiday holidays.
Two pop-up locations open Thursday in Ottawa, at the Walter Baker Recreation Center at 100 Malvern Dr. in Nepean, starting at 10 and in St. Laurent Shopping Center at 1200 St. Laurent Blvd.
The Nepean place will also be open on New Year’s Eve.
A positive rapid test will trigger a follow-up.
Travelers who need a test have local options to pay for one.
In western Quebec:
Tests are highly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.
People can make an appointment or see if they are near an option online. They can also call 1-877-644-4545 with questions during the hours the line is running.
Maniwaki’s test site moves to 57 route 105 from today.
Gargle tests are offered in some places instead of a cotton swab.
Rapid COVID-19 tests are available in all Quebec day care centers, kindergartens and elementary schools as well as through pharmacies for the general population.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
First Nations, Inuit and Métis people or anyone traveling to work in a remote native community are eligible for a test in Ontario.
Akwesasne has COVID-19 test and vaccine clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341.
People in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg can call the health center at 819-449-5593 to get a test or vaccine; e-mail is another option for vaccine booking.
Tests are available in Pikwakanagàn by calling 613-625-1175 and vaccines (including third doses) at 613-625-2259 extension 225 or by email.
Anyone in Tyendinaga whoever is interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should see the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.
Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, at Inuktitut or English on weekdays.