Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.
- Ottawa’s medical officer of health says lockdown measures need to remain in place during an “upturn” in COVID-19 in the community
- Premier Ford admits he knew of Ontario finance minister’s vacation two weeks ago
- Ontario sets new COVID-19 case record on Wednesday; 64 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa
- Canada will soon require air travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before arrival in Canada
- Masks mandatory at Ottawa outdoor rinks, but not while skating
COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa:
- New cases: 64 new cases on Wednesday
- Total COVID-19 cases: 9,866
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 40.1
- Positivity rate in Ottawa: 2.5 per cent (Dec 23-29)
- Reproduction Number: 1.22 (seven day average)
Who should get a test?
Ottawa Public Health says there are four reasons to seek testing for COVID-19:
- You are showing COVID-19 symptoms. OR
- You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app. OR
- You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health. OR
- You are eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa:
Ottawa’s assessment centres will remain open for the holiday season. However, sites will have adjusted operating hours until Monday, Jan 4.
To book an appointment, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/shared-content/assessment-centres.aspx
The Brewer Ottawa Hospital/CHEO Assessment Centre
- Closed Jan. 1
- Shortened days (8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) for both Ottawa Hospital and CHEO centres on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2 and 3.
- Shortened days (8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) for the Ottawa Hospital site Dec. 31
COVID-19 Drive-thru assessment centre at National Arts Centre
- Closed: Jan. 1
- Shortened Day (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) Dec.31
The Moodie Care and Testing Centre will be closed: Jan. 2-3
The Heron Care and Testing Centre will be closed: Jan. 1 to 3
The COVID-19 Assessment Centre at McNabb Community Centre will be closed Jan. 1 to 3. There will be shortened hours on Dec. 31.
Classic Symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath
Other symptoms: sore throat, difficulty swallow, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, new or unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion
Less common symptoms: unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, delirium, chills, red/inflamed eyes, croup
Ottawa’s top doctor says Ottawa is seeing an “upturn” in COVID-19 activity in the community, and residents should expect the lockdown to continue for the full 28-days unless the numbers improve quickly.
Speaking on CTV News at Six with anchor Patricia Boal, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said COVID-19 indicators show transmission is increasing in Ottawa.
“I think it’s important for the people of Ottawa to know that right now we are on an upturn again, and the wastewater is an early signal – it’s gone up more steeply just recently,” said Dr. Etches.
One week after calling the 28-day lockdown disappointing for Ottawa, Dr. Etches suggested the COVID-19 indicators moving in the “wrong direction” will mean we should “expect the full 28-days of the lockdown.”
Premier Doug Ford admits he should have told finance minister Rod Phillips to return back to Ontario when he found out the minister travelled out of the country.
“He never told anyone he was leaving. He never told me he was leaving. I did call him shortly after he arrived and I talked to him and asked where he was. He said he was away, said is this going to be an issue? My mistake, and I take full responsibility. At that time, I should have said get your backside back into Ontario and I didn’t do that,” Ford said.
In a statement on Tuesday, Phillips said he left on a trip to St. Barts on Dec. 13 after the end of the legislative session.
Sixty-four more Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19, while Ontario set a new record for cases of novel coronavirus across the province.
Ottawa Public Health reported 64 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday. There are no new deaths in Ottawa linked to COVID-19.
Since the first case of COVID-19 in Ottawa on March 11, there have been 9,866 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 392 deaths.
Across Ontario, there are 2,923 cases of COVID-19, a sharp increase over the previous one-day record of 2,553 set on Tuesday.
The federal government plans to require air travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before landing in Canada.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said all passengers on flights entering Canada will soon be required to have a negative PCR test three days before their arrival.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the new requirement will be put in place.
The city of Ottawa is making masks mandatory on and around skating rinks, but the masks won’t be required while people are skating.
Effective 5 p.m. Wednesday, people must wear a mask within a 15 meter distance of the edge of the ice surface, but masks are not mandatory while you are skating.
In a memo to Council, Emergency and Protective Services General Manager Anthony Di Monte said Ottawa Public Health and Ottawa Bylaw have observed and received significant information about large gatherings at outdoor skating rinks since early December.
Coronavirus Update: British Columbia announces plans for mass vaccination – The Globe and Mail
Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.
- British Columbia announces plans for mass vaccination
- Another six residents at a long-term care facility in Barrie have died after being infected with an unidentified COVID-19 variant
- COVID-19 variant spreading across South Africa can evade immunity, research suggests
In the last 7 days, 41,701 cases were reported, down 19% from the previous 7 days. There were 1,099 deaths announced, up 8% over the same period. At least 4,260 people are being treated in hospitals and 652,829 others are considered recovered.
About 84% of the 928,500 doses of vaccine distributed to provinces have been administered. That’s 2.0 doses for every 100 people in Canada.
Sources: Canada data is compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data is from Johns Hopkins University.
Coronavirus explainers: Coronavirus in maps and charts • Lockdown rules and reopening • Canada’s vaccine distribution plan • Developing/approved vaccines • Pfizer’s vaccine, explained • Essential resources
Photo of the day
Coronavirus in Canada
- Experts in Ontario are pointing to workplace transmission as a major source of COVID-19 infection, and say better testing, paid sick leave, and stronger enforcement is needed to slow the spread in the province. Meanwhile, another six residents of the long-term care home Roberta Place in Barrie have died after being infected with an unidentified variant of COVID-19. And, a Whitby couple have been charged with misleading health officials after contracting the U.K. variant of COVID-19.
- British Columbia announced plans for a mass vaccination campaign starting in April, with an aim to immunize 4.3 million residents aged 18 and over by the end of September. Meanwhile, school districts in the province spent just $5-million of the $35-million federal pandemic fund to upgrade ventilation at schools. Instead, school districts spent almost triple that ($14.8-million) on hiring more cleaning staff and buying more supplies to enhance the cleaning at schools.
- Yesterday, Alberta said that thousands of residents in privately funded congregate care facilities haven’t received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and are not, as a group, given priority in the government’s inoculation plan. Earlier this week, the province said it had vaccinated residents and staff in facilities subsidized by taxpayers – however, this excludes facilities that may offer care for seniors in similar settings but are funded privately.
In Ottawa, the federal government is looking at options that would make it harder for people to return from foreign trips, including hotel quarantines for returning travellers.
- However, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the tools already in place must also be fully utilized, including more police enforcement of two-week quarantine rules for arriving travellers.
- Public Health Agency of Canada figures show 153 flights have arrived from outside Canada over the last two weeks on which at least one passenger later tested positive for COVID-19.
- Health Minister Patty Hajdu said 50,000 tickets for international travel have been cancelled since the rule requiring a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a plane to Canada was announced.
Also today: In a call with President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wants to collaborate with the United States on ending the pandemic. Trudeau said the two leaders are in alignment on several issues and is “looking to be co-ordinated and aggressive” in increasing measures against COVID-19.
Coronavirus around the world
- The mutations in the new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa may evade the immunity that is normally provided by previous infection, researchers are discovering. The variant, thought to be about 50 per cent more transmissible, has become the dominant form of coronavirus in the country, fueling a dramatic surge of cases in the last two months.
- The Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, said the new U.K. COVID-19 variant “may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” though both vaccines currently used in the country are effective treatments against it. However, the U.K. variant is more transmissible, and is putting the country’s health service under “intense pressure,” the Prime Minister added.
- Air passengers bound for the United States will need to show proof of negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from coronavirus starting Jan. 26. The new rules are part of a series of sweeping executive orders signed by President Biden yesterday.
Coronavirus and business
Pfizer committed today to supplying up to 40-million COVID-19 vaccine doses to developing countries, as part of COVAX, the World Health Organization-backed effort to get affordable shots to poor and middle-income countries.
Also today: Corporate Canada is still a boys’ club, data analysis shows – and the COVID-19 pandemic could make it more so.
- Andrew Coyne: Well done, everyone: Vaccines were our last line of defence, but now our governments have bungled that as well
- Robyn Urback: This far into the pandemic, shouldn’t lockdowns be more nuanced?
- Gary Mason: British Columbia’s assault on its surgery backlog has been a pandemic success story
- Jeremy Cohen: Online learning is worsening the already-uneven educational experience for neurodiverse students
- Canada deported 12,122 people even as COVID-19 raged in 2020, according to data seen by Reuters.
- Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 shot is safe and produced immune response in early human trial, a study shows.
- The newest James Bond film, No Time to Die, has been delayed for the second time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The pandemic has fuelled interest in cosmetic procedures, but critics question the timing.
Sources: Canada data are compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins University and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data are from Johns Hopkins.
IH won't say how many care home residents have been vaccinated – Kelowna News – Castanet.net
Interior Health continues to keep quiet on its progress vaccinating residents and staff in Interior long-term care homes.
Friday morning, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province is on track to immunize all long-term care home residents and staff “within the next few days.”
But after Interior Health told Castanet last week that it planned to have “all of the priority one population” – which includes long-term care residents – immunized by the end of February, Interior Health could not provide an update Friday.
“The vaccination rollout is continuing. We don’t have the percentages for all areas to share,” an unnamed IH spokesperson said in an email late Friday afternoon, adding they will try and get more details on their progress by Monday.
IH had a similar response back on Jan 13, when a spokesperson said they “do not have reporting numbers quite ready to go for IH.”
On Friday, Dr. Henry, Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Penny Ballem outlined the province’s COVID-19 vaccination plan over the next few months, with long-term care home residents and staff at the top of the priority list.
“We’re focusing particularly on residents and staff in long-term care homes, as we know that is where the highest risk for both sickness and death is in the province right now,” Dr. Henry said.
Last week, Dr. Henry said it can take longer to immunize those in care homes in the Northern and Interior health regions, due to more spaced out geography. But other than an announcement about vaccinations beginning at the first Interior care home in Oliver on Jan. 8, Interior Health has provided no information about their progress.
To date, 41 of the 59 people who’ve died from COVID-19 in the Interior were care home residents.
COVID-19: Canadian tech companies pledge to give staff time to get vaccinations – CollingwoodToday
TORONTO — A growing number of Canadian tech businesses are promising to allow their staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on company time.
At least 35 tech companies in the country, including SkipTheDishes, Borrowell, and FreshBooks, have signed a new pledge from the Council of Canadian Innovators vowing to let their staff slip out of work to get the shot.
They say they are keen on giving workers the time because vaccinations are more important than business as usual.
The signatories will try to tackle misinformation by providing reliable information from public health agencies about vaccine safety and efficacy to employees.
They are promising to share information with staff about where, when and how people can be vaccinated, as soon as the shots are available to the wider population.
Canada has so far administered just over 738,000 doses of the vaccine to health-care workers and long-term care home residents.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.
The Canadian Press
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