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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 16

·8 min read
People enjoy a warm fall day in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press - image credit)
People enjoy a warm fall day in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa gym site of possible COVID-19 exposure.

  • Kingston, Ont., officials warn potential homecoming partygoers to stay home.

  • COVID-19 forces a participation-free Rocky Horror screening at the Mayfair theatre.

What's the latest?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 24 more COVID-19 cases Saturday.

They're also warning people who attended the 613Lift gym on certain dates earlier this month, that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Health officials say anyone who went to the gym during these times, should monitor themselves for symptoms:

  • Oct.3 between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.

  • Oct. 8 between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.

  • Oct. 9 between 12 and 3:00 p.m

Officials in Kingston, Ont., have issued a stark warning to partygoers ready to flock to the city for Queen's University's annual homecoming celebrations, as they hope to avoid a repeat of the illegal gatherings over the Labour Day weekend.

In a video statement Thursday, Mayor Bryan Paterson told anyone looking to come to the city with the intention of attending a large, unsanctioned party: "Don't come here."

Halloween is back on, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made the haunt industry reconsider a lot about how it scares people, including designing haunted houses so people don't stick around in one room too long.

Similarly, gone are the water pistols, confetti and rude words shouted at key moments during the Mayfair Theatre's annual screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This year, the theatre will only be holding sit-and-watch screenings.

People who were born between January and August can now download QR codes as part of Ontario's proof-of-vaccination app, with that extending to all residents as of Sunday.

The codes can be used to show proof of vaccination anywhere it's required, starting Oct. 22.

WATCH | How haunted houses have adjusted to the COVID-19 Halloween

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, Ottawa has a total of 30,451 cases of COVID-19. There are 257 known active cases, 29,593 cases are considered resolved, and 601 people have died from the illness.

Ottawa-Gatineau area confirmed COVID-19 cases

Public health officials have reported more than 56,300 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 54,300 cases now resolved.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 209 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 222.

Akwesasne has had nearly 990 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 12 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has had 34 cases and one death. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 20 cases, with one death and an active community outbreak. Pikwakanagan hasn't had any cases.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch.

What are the rules?

Eastern Ontario:

Ontario is in Step 3 of its reopening plan and is expected to announce next steps next week.

General gathering limits are 25 people inside and 100 people outside. Those limits are even higher for organized events.

Indoor dining capacity is based on distancing. Gyms and museums can reach a capacity of 50 per cent inside.

Its vaccine passport system is in place at least until the spring. QR codes for scanning start being used on Oct. 22, on top of the paper and PDF options currently in use.

Other groups in the region are also coming out with their own COVID-19 vaccine policies, including for staff.

Western Quebec

Under its green zone rules, 10 people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports.

There are no longer capacity limits for Quebec venues with assigned seats. Restaurants will lose capacity and hour limits on Nov. 1.

A vaccine passport is in place for people age 13 and up in spaces such as public events, restaurants, gyms and now hospitals.

Quebecers can use an app or show paper proof; people from out of province will have to show paper proof.

What can I do?

Prevention

COVID-19 primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Variants of concern are more contagious and are established.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future, such as staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and surfaces clean and considering distancing from anyone you don't live with.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended in crowded outdoor areas.

Jean Delisle/CBC
Jean Delisle/CBC

Vaccines curb the spread of all variants of COVID-19 and go a long way toward avoiding deaths and hospitalizations, without offering total protection.

There's federal guidance for what vaccinated people can do in different situations.

Health leaders in the area generally say smaller Halloween gatherings are allowed with precautions for the unvaccinated and/or vulnerable. Guidance can be stricter in select areas where COVID-19 is spreading more than others, such as Akwesasne and Tyendinaga.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length of self-isolation varies in Quebec and Ontario.

Travel

All would-be travellers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 30 to board a plane, train or marine vessel in Canada.

Fully vaccinated, tested and pre-approved people can come to Canada.

The U.S. will require all travellers to be fully vaccinated as of Nov. 8. People who've had two different approved vaccine doses will be allowed to cross the border.

WATCH | U.S. will now accept Canadian travellers with mixed COVID-19 vaccine doses

Vaccines

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada.

The two most common are approved for youth as young as 12. Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted have submitted preliminary trial data for their COVID-19 shot for younger kids to Health Canada.

Canada's vaccine task force says people can wait as little as three to four weeks and up to 16 weeks between first and second doses. That same task force says it's safe and effective to mix first and second doses.

Ontario and Quebec are giving certain groups third doses.

WATCH | Public Health officials say they are reviewing the data supporting COVID booster shots

There have been more than 3.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region — combined first, second and third doses — which has about 2.3 million residents.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating anyone who will be age 12 or older in 2021.

People can look for provincial appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900. Pharmacies and some family doctors offer vaccines through their own booking systems.

Local health units have flexibility, including around booking and third shots, so check their websites for details.

They offer doses on short notice as campaigns shift from mass clinics to mobile clinics to fill gaps in vaccine coverage.

The province has recommended people age 18 to 24 get the Pfizer-BioNTech, or Comirnaty, vaccine because the Moderna or Spikevax vaccine brings a mild risk of a rare heart condition.

Western Quebec

Anyone 12 and older can make an appointment or visit a permanent or mobile walk-in clinic.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, runny nose, headache, vomiting and loss of taste or smell.

Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.

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:

Anyone seeking a COVID-19 test can make an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Today is the last day this year for Ottawa's Coventry Road drive-thru test site. The city's testing task force is looking for an indoor location with the National Arts Centre garage unavailable this time.

Ontario says to only get tested if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Rapid tests are available in some places, including some child-care settings when risk is high.

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

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

People can make an appointment or see what their walk-in options are online. They can also call 1-877-644-4545 with questions.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are available in all Quebec preschools and elementary schools.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous 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 centre at 819-449-5593 for a test or vaccine; email is another option for vaccine booking.

Tests are available in Pikwàkanagàn by calling 613-625-1175 and vaccines, at 613-625-2259 extension 225 or by email. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should watch 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, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

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