Medical officers of health in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa urged the province on Monday to impose stronger public health measures immediately, saying a provincial stay-at-home order is needed now to curb COVID-19.
Dr. Vera Etches, the medical officer of health for Ottawa, said Monday that the city is “losing the race” against variants of concern.
Health officials in Ottawa reported 237 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. It’s the second-highest, single-day total of the pandemic so far, only three fewer than Saturday’s record high.
As of Monday, 18,260 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,815 known active cases, 15,977 resolved cases and 468 deaths.
Public health officials have reported more than 33,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 29,200 resolved cases.
Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 147 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 174.
Akwesasne has had more than 270 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. It’s had more than 550 cases when its southern section is added.
Those sorts of factors explain why Ontario is now in a provincewide shutdown, with rules that are similar but not identical to rules that were in place in grey-lockdown zones.
Gyms and personal care services must close, while restaurants are only available for takeout.
Non-essential businesses are able to open at 25 per cent capacity.
Indoor gatherings are not allowed, except for people who live together and the usual exception for those who live alone.
Outdoor gatherings can have a maximum of five distanced people.© Olivier Plante/CBC The beginning of golf season in Gatineau on Monday, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Religious services, weddings and funerals are capped at 15 per cent capacity indoors and as many people as can be physically distanced outdoors. Social gatherings like receptions fall under the rules for indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Schools won’t be immediately affected, although some boards have told families to be ready in case they have to close classrooms again and return to full remote learning.
The new rules may replace some or all of those local rules.
Schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses are closed until Monday, April 12 at 5 a.m. in Gatineau and in the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, which almost entirely surrounds the city.
Private gatherings are banned, except for a person who lives alone to see one other household.
Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people. Places of worship can have a maximum of 25 people.
The curfew now starts at 8 p.m.
The rest of the Outaouais is under red-zone rules, which closes restaurant dining rooms but keeps schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses open with restrictions.
Weddings and funerals can have a maximum of 25 people, while other religious services can go up to 250 distanced people.
The start of the curfew in this area remains at 9:30 p.m.
People across the Ottawa-Gatineau area are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only leave their immediate area for essential reasons.
This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — as well as keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.
OPH says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.
Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get help with errands.
Four COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in Canada.
Canada’s task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second.
About 312,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including about 130,000 doses to Ottawa residents and about 45,000 in western Quebec.
Ontario’s first doses of Phase 1 generally went to care home residents and health-care workers.
All health units in eastern Ontario are now vaccinating people aged 70 and older.
People can book appointments online or over the phone.
Phase 3, slated to begin in July, will involve vaccinating anyone older than 16.
Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers.
Officials expect everyone over the age of 65 to be vaccinated by mid-April and everyone who wants a shot to be able to get one by by Fête nationale on June 24.
COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, 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.
Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.
People without symptoms but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies.
Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.
Check with your area’s health unit for clinic locations and hours. Some are offering pop-up or mobile clinics.
Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.
There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki and Petite-Nation.
Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.
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 and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.