What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday March 11
The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen two waves of major variations, repeatedly broken records, and the beginning and end of vaccine passports.
The Ottawa-Gatineau region has seen more confirmed cases and fewer deaths in the past 12 months compared to the first year of the pandemic. As Year 3 dawns, capacity limits have been lifted and mask mandates will soon follow.
Pandemic trends in Ottawa remain stable. The city‘s medical officer, however, says they are still relatively high and people should take precautions to counter the remaining risks in the coming weeks.
What are the numbers to watch?
The tests cannot meet general public demand due to the contagious variant of Omicron, which means many people with COVID-19 will not be reflected in the case count.
Hospitalizations and sewage monitoring can help fill in some of the gray areas. There is more information in our daily story on key figures.
The average level of coronavirus in Ottawa’s sewage is stable at higher levels than before the Omicron wave.
There are eight Ottawa residents in local hospitals for treatment of active COVID-19 according to Thursday’s report from Ottawa Public Health (OPH). Two need intensive care.
There were 38 patients as of Monday if you include people in Ottawa hospitals from other areas or for other reasons who happen to have COVID-19.
Ottawa has 63,865 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 752 residents have died from the disease.
The wider region
Communities outside of Ottawa have approximately 40 COVID-19 related hospitalizations. Fifteen of them need intensive care. This numbers do not include Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.
In the rest of Eastern Ontario, 397 people with COVID-19 have died. The death toll is 288 in western Quebec.
More than 5.1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has a population of approximately 2.3 million.
Rates of eligible Eastern Ontarians having at least two vaccines range from approximately 80-90%. These third dose rates for adults range from about 55 to 70%.
These figures are not regularly available for western Quebec.
What are the rules?
There is no capacity or collection limit. Masks are mandatory in indoor public spaces.
On Monday, March 21, masking requirements will be removed in most indoor environments. They will remain in place for public transport, care homes, shelters, prisons and congregate care until April 27, when all COVID-19 rules are set to end.
The province’s vaccine passport is complete. Businesses and other settings can always ask for proof of vaccination.
A vaccination mandate for staff and visitors to long-term care homes remains.
Home gatherings in homes have no limits, although a maximum of 10 people or three households is recommended.
Dining halls, bars, theaters, gyms, spas and places of worship can open with capacity limits. Retail stores do not have one.
Capacity limits and the vaccine passport are scheduled to end on Saturday. This passport covers most people over the age of 12 in a decreasing number of spaces.
Masks are required indoors in public for people 10 and older, except for students in class. They will not be mandatory on public transport until mid-April, then this transport requirement will end in May.
Ontario and Quebec’s isolation rules have relaxed for some close contacts.
Travelers over 12 years and four months must be fully immunized to board a plane or train in Canada.
Individuals must be fully vaccinated, pre-approved, asymptomatic and tested negative to enter Canada. Travelers can take an authorized rapid test.
The United States requires all adults to cross a border be fully vaccinated. People traveling there will need proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.
Travelers who need a test have local options to pay for one.
How can I manage risk?
COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets that can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms, even after receiving a vaccine.
Evidence suggests that the dominant variant of Omicron, including its BA.2 subvariant, is more contagious than other types but generally less lethal to vaccinated people without underlying conditions.
Although this wave has peaked and serious health issues generally wane slowly, this level of spread puts vulnerable people at risk.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer says people must take personal responsibility as government rules ease; people can receive all vaccine doses for which they are eligible, stay home when sick, wear a mask, social distance and limit close contact, while considering community spread and rates vaccination.
Medical masks are recommended over cloth masks.
Vaccines slow the spread of all variants of COVID-19 and go a long way in preventing deaths and hospitalizations, without providing full protection.
Six COVID-19 vaccines are safe and approved in Canada, with some age restrictions.
The two local provinces generally recommend doses for children ages five to 11 at least eight weeks apart for best protection. Some health authorities say parents can request a shorter interval.
Advice varies by when, not whether, people should receive a third dose after contracting COVID-19. Experts agree that people should wait until they have recovered.
Eligible persons can look up provincial appointments online or by phone at 1-833-943-3900.
Anyone 18 and older in Ontario can book a third outlet once 84 days have passed since the second. Third doses are available to anyone aged 12 to 17 after 168 days have passed.
Fourth doses are offered to some groups after the same 84-day wait.
All adults are eligible for a third dose; the general recommendation between the second and third is three months.
Symptoms, treatment and tests
COVID-19[female[femininecan range from a cold-like illness a serious lung infection, with common symptoms such as fever, cough, headache, vomiting and loss of taste or smell.
The “long-haul” symptoms can last for months.
Ontario and Quebec are using Pfizer’s prescription treatment Paxlovid for COVID-19 initially on adults at risk for serious COVID-19 problems.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.
In Eastern Ontario:
Only high-risk individuals with symptoms or at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can obtain a lab-verified PCR test due to Omicron’s demand. This list expands to include home and community care facilities.
Qualified persons can check with their health unit for locations and times. Other people with symptoms should assume they have COVID-19 and self-isolate.
Rapid tests are available for the general public at participating stores, for some workers and at some daycares.
The plan is that people with a positive rapid test can possibly get a follow-up PCR test.
In western Quebec:
Quebec has also stopped giving PCR tests to the general public, reserving them for high-risk settings.
Rapid COVID-19 tests are available in all daycares, preschools and primary schools in Quebec, as well as in pharmacies for the general population.
People can report rapid test results in line.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or people who travel to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for testing in Ontario and Quebec.
Ottawa Inuit can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 weekdays for tests and vaccines in Inuktitut or English.
Akwesasne has COVID-19 information online or at 613-575-2341. The neighbor Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe also offers testing and has mandatory masking done. About 1,900 residents have tested positive and 19 have died between its northern and southern sections.
Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg residents can call the COVID helpline at 819-449-8085 for testing on Wednesday if they qualify. Rapid tests are available at the health center. It had more than 175 confirmed cases and one death as of mid-January; 152 of these cases since December 3, 2021.
The people in Pikwakanagan can call 613-625-1175 for tests and vaccines. It offers rapid and PCR tests three mornings a week. The community had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 through December 2021; it had 112 confirmed cases as of March 4.
Anyone in Tyendinaga who is interested in a PCR test or a vaccine can call their health team at 613-967-3603. They can ask questions about the rapid tests by texting 613-686-5510 or sending an email. It had 91 confirmed cases and two deaths until it stopped sharing its tally in January.