What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, December 20

Recent DEVELOPMENTS:

What is the last

New government restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 come into effect today across Quebec.

Ontario-wide rule changes began yesterday, but some of the rules announced by Ottawa Public Health take effect today. As a rule, the strictest rules apply. For example, Ottawa now has a limit of six diners per table in restaurants and a 50 percent capacity limit in places of worship.

Nearly 2,000 Quebec pharmacies are now starting to distribute rapid tests, but we still do not know who will have access to them and how.

Ontarians 18 and older can now register for their third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they wait 84 days between their second and third dose. Health units say there are not many of these appointments available immediately.

The age requirement in Quebec is now 65, to go to 60 next Monday.

While the holidays are a difficult time for many, Ottawa shelters and outreach services say Christmas 2021 is shaping up to be one of the toughest yet due to high demand and dwindling funds and staff.

How many cases are there?

As of Sunday, Ottawa had 34,296 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

There are 1,695 known active cases as the number is increasing rapidly, while 31,981 cases are considered resolved and 620 people have died from the disease.

Public health officials have reported more than 66,000 cases of COVID-19 in eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 60,900 cases now resolved. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 242 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 223.

Akwesasne had about 1,250 residents tested positive for COVID-19 and reported 18 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory had 56 cases and one death. Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg had 52 cases and one death. Pikwàkanagàn had no case.

What are the rules?

Eastern Ontario:

The province’s private assembly limits are 10 indoors and 25 outdoors and businesses have a 50% capacity limit due to the Omicron variant and the rapidly increasing number of cases. Up to 10 people are allowed per table in a restaurant or bar.

Health officials say people should re-commit to getting vaccinated, getting tested, staying home when sick and seeing as few people as possible in person.

Local officials can also introduce their own rules and this is what happened in Ottawa, Renfrew County, the Belleville district and the Kingston area.

Health units for Belleville, Kingston and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark areas ask residents to avoid face-to-face gatherings, as does advice from Akwesasne and Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg.

The provincial vaccination passport is required for people 12 years of age and over in many public places. It will not be compulsory for the youngest.

People can prove their immunization status with a paper document, PDF file, or QR code. These documents must have a QR code as of January 4 and medical exemptions must have one by January 10.

Western Quebec

Ten people are allowed to assemble inside the houses and 20 people outside. Cinemas, places of worship, restaurants and bars are limited to 50% of their capacity, and no singing or dancing is allowed in the latter two.

Masks will again be mandatory in classrooms and on school buses, and high school students will start in January with e-learning.

A vaccination passport is in place for most people 13 years of age and older in many public spaces. This will not apply to the youngest. People can use an app or show a paper proof.

Other groups in the region are also offering their own COVID-19 vaccination policies, including for staff and visitors.

What can I do?

Prevention

COVID-19 is spread primarily by droplets that can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms, even after being vaccinated.

Scientists are working to learn more about the very rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, its severity, and how vaccines are performing against it.

It is important to take precautions such as staying home in case of illness – and get help with costs if needed – keep your hands and surfaces clean and consider distancing yourself from anyone you do not live with.

Masks, preferably medical, are mandatory in indoor public places in Ontario and Quebec and recommended in crowded outdoor spaces.

The timing and duration of self-isolation may vary depending on the community, type of exposure, and immunization status.

Health Canada recommends that seniors and those with underlying health conditions get help with shopping and have supplies in case they need to self-isolate.

To travel

Travelers over 12 years and four months must now be fully immunized to board a plane, train or ship in Canada.

The federal government officially advises against non-essential international travel until at least January 12.

People must be fully vaccinated and pre-approved to enter Canada and must once again test negative for COVID-19 starting tomorrow.

The United States requires anyone crossing a land, air or sea border must be fully vaccinated. People traveling there will need 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

Vaccines slow the spread of all variants of COVID-19 and go a long way in preventing deaths and hospitalizations, without offering full protection.

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been found to be safe and approved in Canada, with some age restrictions.

Health Canada has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children as young as five years old. The two local provinces generally recommend that doses for children five to 11 years old be given at least eight weeks apart, with limited exceptions.

Anyone 18 and over in Ontario can now book a third session. The province also shortened the required interval between the second and third dose from 168 days to 84 days.

People 65 and over can receive a third dose in Quebec, while people 60 and over with certain health problems are also eligible. All other people 60 years of age and over can receive a third dose starting December 27.

More than 3.9 million first, second and third doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the greater Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has a population of approximately 2.3 million.

Eastern Ontario

People born in 2016 and before can search for provincial appointments online or by phone at 1-833-943-3900.

Local health units have some flexibility, so check their websites for details. Many offer clinics just for children.

Pharmacies and some family physicians offer vaccines through their own reservation systems.

Western Quebec

Anyone aged five and over can get an appointment or visit a permanent or mobile walk-in clinic.

Children’s clinics are in schools and children will need a parent’s written consent to be vaccinated there.

Siblings can be booked together in the same time slot, and parents can check a box to report if their child is nervous.

Symptoms and tests

COVID-19[female[femininecan range from a cold-like illness a severe lung infection, with common symptoms such as fever, cough, headache, vomiting, and loss of taste or smell.

Long-haul symptoms can last for months.

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:

Ontario says to get tested by making an appointment at a clinic if you meet certain criteria. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Some pharmacies test people with symptoms, as well as some people without symptoms.

Quick and take-out tests are available at malls, libraries and LCBOs (when stocks allow), Kingston area family physician offices, and certain childcare settings when the risk is high. Students receive a pack of vacation test kits.

A positive rapid test will trigger a follow-up.

Travelers who need a test have local options to pay for one.

In western Quebec:

Testing is highly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

People can make an appointment or see if they’re near an online walk-in option. They can also call 1-877-644-4545 to ask questions during line hours.

Gargle tests are offered in some places instead of a swab.

COVID-19 rapid tests are available in all daycares, kindergartens and elementary schools in Quebec, as well as in pharmacies for the general population.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or anyone traveling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible to be tested in Ontario.

Akwesasne a COVID-19 test and vaccination clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341.

Residents of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg can call the health center at 819-449-5593 for a test or a vaccine; email is another option for booking vaccines.

Tests are available in Pikwàkanagàn by calling 613-625-1175 and vaccines (including third doses) at 613-625-2259 ext 225 or by email.

Anyone in Tyendinaga who is interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should look at the website for dedicated vaccination clinics.

Ottawa Inuit can call Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including tests and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.



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