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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, Nov. 13 – CBC.ca

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Recent developments:

What’s the latest?

Ottawa-area health officials have begun discussing what a potential COVID-19 vaccine rollout could look like, while also urging people to keep their expectations in check.

Ottawa reported 91 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, its highest daily total of the month.

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, says optimistic news about a COVID-19 vaccine may offer hope for residents who are tired of pandemic restrictions, though loosening those measures too early would lead to a rapid rise in cases. 1:03

How many cases are there?

As of Thursday’s update from Ottawa Public Health (OPH), 7,725 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are 495 known active cases, 6,880 resolved cases and 350 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 12,100 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 10,600 resolved cases.

Ninety-one people with COVID-19 have died elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 61 in western Quebec.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who’ve died of COVID-19, starting with one of the city’s youngest victims. If you’d like to share your loved one’s story, please get in touch.

What can I do?

Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Ottawa is in orange in its provincial pandemic scale, meaning  larger organized gatherings are allowed and restaurants, gyms and theatres can reopen.

Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has said people should focus on managing risks and taking precautions, such as seeing a few friends outside at a distance.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is in yellow, with slightly different measures such as later alcohol serving hours and more people allowed at restaurant tables.

The rest of eastern Ontario is green, the lowest level.

The medical officer of health for the Kingston, Ont., area is flagging a bump up in its curve and asking residents to stay within the region to avoid more “spillover” from Toronto and Ottawa.

In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec’s red zones, health officials say the situation is stable, but now needs to improve. They are still asking residents not to leave home unless it’s essential.

Indoor dining at that area’s restaurants remains prohibited, while gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.

The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — with more in seated venues.

Travel to another region is discouraged throughout the Outaouais. Ontario says people shouldn’t travel to a lower-level region from a higher one.

What about schools?

There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:

Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there’s a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms.

This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don’t live with — even with a mask on.

Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.

Etches says people should be wary of blind spots, like taking a lunch break at work with colleagues or carpooling.

A cyclist in Major’s Hill Park in downtown Ottawa in November 2020. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can’t distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who’ve been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. 

Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

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

Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.

Where to get tested

In eastern Ontario:

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you’ve been told to by your health unit or the province.

Anyone seeking a test should now book an appointment. Different sites in the area have different ways to book, including over the phone or going in person to get a time slot.

People without symptoms, but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.

Ottawa has eight permanent test sites, with additional mobile sites deployed wherever demand is particularly high.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls.

Kingston’s test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area’s other test site is in Napanee.

People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.

Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly. There are none on Remembrance Day.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.

They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne now has 30 known active cases of COVID-19, its highest of the pandemic.Ten of them are on the Canadian side of the international border. 

Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.

Aswesasne schools are temporarily closed to in-person learning and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre has also closed. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.

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.

The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reported its first confirmed case last week.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. 

Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.

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

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AstraZeneca says late-stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine were 'highly effective' in preventing disease – CBC.ca

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AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed that its COVID-19 vaccine with Oxford University was up to 90 per cent effective in preventing disease. The vaccine is one of several that Canada has preordered.

The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine, AstraZeneca said.

The trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month apart was 90 per cent effective. A second regimen using two full doses one month apart was 62 per cent effective. The combined results showed an average efficacy rate of 70 per cent.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” Prof. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said in a statement. “Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective.”

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for its potential COVID-19 vaccine as public health officials around the world anxiously wait for vaccines that will end the pandemic that has killed almost 1.4 million people. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries. All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.

“The Oxford vaccine can be stored in the fridge, as opposed to the freezer like the other two vaccines, which means it is a more practical solution for use worldwide,” said Peter Horby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Oxford.

The results come as COVID-19 infection rates are rising in most U.S. states and in many countries, including Canada, amid a resurgence of the virus, which is once again prompting governments to shut down businesses and restrict social gatherings around the world. England is still in the middle of a four-week lockdown that has closed all non-essential shops, while in the U.S., the government’s top health agency has recommended that Americans not travel to visit family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday this week.

AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.

The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.

The vaccine can be transported under “normal refrigerated conditions” of 2 C to 8 C, AstraZeneca said. By comparison, Pfizer plans to distribute its vaccine using specially designed “thermal shippers” that use dry ice to maintain temperatures of minus -70 C.

Smaller dose may reduce costs

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated.

“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs. With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”

WATCH | Who would get a COVID-19 vaccine first and when?

With several COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world, cost and efficacy are important. However, logistical considerations may be the deciding factor in what becomes available across Canada, according to epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Labos.   5:41

Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist in Montreal trained in epidemiology, said vaccines do not have to be perfect or prevent every case of COVID-19.

“The point is to drastically reduce the caseload, to drastically reduce the number of new infections so that we don’t have these outbreaks, so we don’t have the hospital systems overwhelmed,” Labos said Monday on CBC News Network. 

“That’s the main take-home message from a lot of these vaccines. Not only do they prevent cases but they seem to prevent serious cases of COVID-19.”

Labos said he suspects because the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines need to be stored at low temperatures, they are probably going to be reserved for institutions, while the Oxford/AstraZeneca one might be rolled out in the community. 

The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Late-stage trials are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.

AstraZeneca reported two pauses in the Phase 3 clinical trial of its vaccine candidate, AZD1222. “No serious safety events related to the vaccine have been confirmed,” the company said in a release. 

AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, chief executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.

Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.

“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” Soriot said.

Now that AstraZeneca has released its interim results, regulators must approve the vaccine before it can be widely distributed.

‘Great sense of relief’

Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it gains approval from the regulator. Canada has ordered 20 million doses, enough for 10 million people.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news of the AstraZeneca vaccine’s effectiveness.

He said just months ago, as the virus raged, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness, I would have given my eye teeth for.”

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Record number of new coronavirus cases reported in Ontario as lockdowns begin in Toronto, Peel – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ontario is reporting a record number of new cases of COVID-19 just as Toronto and Peel enter a lockdown to control the rapid spread of the virus.

The Ministry of Health says that there were 1,589 new instances of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus confirmed on Sunday as we all as another 19 deaths, 11 of which involved residents of long-term care facilities.

It is a new record caseload for any single 24-hour period, just barely topping the previous high of 1,588 that was reported on Saturday. It also represent a more sizeable increase on the 1,487 new cases that were reported last Monday.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average of new cases increased again and now stands at 1,429. That, however, is still down from this point last week when it stood at 1,443.

The latest positive cases came on just 37,471 tests, repeating a trend that typically sees the province report fewer results at the beginning of the week due to a drop off in testing over the weekend.

The positivity percentage over the last 24 hours was 4.6 per cent. It is the highest that number has been since last Tuesday.

The vast majority of the new cases do continue to be clustered in Peel (535 cases), Toronto (336 new cases) and York (205 new cases) with those three regions accounting for more than two-thirds of all new infections.

But the transmission of the virus does seem to be accelerating in communities across Ontario, as officials have warned.

On Monday there were 83 new cases reported in Waterloo, as the region officially moved into the red zone in Ontario’s COVID-19 framework. There was also another 41 new cases in Durham, 53 in Halton and 61 in Hamilton.

“The main thing people can do now is please stay home,” Toronto Mayor John Tory told CP24 on Monday morning. “It matters less in the context of achieving the result which kind of stores are closed and not closed. It matters more whether people decide to follow the advice, which is if it is at all possible just stay home.”

Modelling had warned of higher case counts by now

Modelling released earlier this month had warned that Ontario could see about 2,000 to 2,500 cases a day by this point en-route to 3,500 to 6,500 daily cases by mid-December but it would appear that we have fallen off that pace somewhat.

There are, however, still alarming indicators that point to challenging days on the horizon.

There are now 156 COVID-19 patients receiving treatment in the ICU and some hospitals have already had to cancel some elective surgeries and procedures to accommodate the influx.

Deaths are also steadily increasing after lagging behind the rise in case counts for months.

Over the last seven days an average of 19 COVID patients have died each day, up slightly from this time last week when the seven-day average was 18.

If there is reason for optimism, it comes in the form of encouraging news on the vaccine development front.

On Monday morning AstraZeneca reported that its vaccine appeared to be up to 90 per cent effective in late-stage trials. Moderna Inc. and Pfizer have also reported that their vaccines are more than 90 per cent effective with the latter having recently applied for emergency use authorization from U.S. officials.

“With these vaccine studies it is great news and it is always OK to take a stop along the way and smell the roses and a have a small celebration but we have to stay the course,” infectious diseases expert Dr. Issac Bogoch told CP24 on Monday, prior to the release of the latest numbers. “Our masks, our distancing, our hand sanitization, getting vaccinated for the flu. Just continue to adhere to these public health measures and it is clear that things are going to get better and better and better but we are not there yet. So just double down, hold the fortress, continue to practice our public health measures and we will be ok. We really will.”

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Ontario reports record-high 1,589 new COVID-19 cases as Toronto, Peel lock down – CBC.ca

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Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference beginning at 1 p.m. at Queen’s Park. Ford’s office says he will be joined by several cabinet members, including the minister of health. 

You can watch it live in this story.


Ontario reported 1,589 more cases of COVID-19 on Monday, another single-day record as Toronto and Peel Region move into a second lockdown.

The new cases include 336 in Toronto, 535 in Peel and 205 in York Region. They drive the seven-day average up to 1,423 after six consecutive days of increases.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in today’s update were:

  • Waterloo Region: 83
  • Hamilton: 61
  • Windsor: 56
  • Halton Region: 53
  • Durham Region: 41
  • Ottawa: 40
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 30
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 25
  • Niagara Region: 24
  • Brant County: 16
  • Thunder Bay: 16
  • Middlesex-London: 13

[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary, which include data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.]

Sixty of the new infections were school-related, including 51 students and nine staff members. A total of 676, or about  14 per cent, of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly-funded schools have reported at least one case of COVID-19. Three schools are remain closed due to the illness.

The additional cases come as Ontario’s labs processed 37,471 test samples for the novel coronavirus, and 18,394 were added to the queue to be completed. The province reported an overall test positivity rate of 4.6 per cent.

There are currently 13,004 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 in the province, the most at any point since the outbreak began in late January. 

Nineteen more people with COVID-19 have died, the province said, pushing the official death toll to 3,505. The additional deaths include a man in his 20s, the fifth person in their 20s to die with COVID-19 in Ontario. So far this month, 360 people with infections of the novel coronavirus have died provincewide.

Meanwhile, Toronto and Peel Region have entered the most restrictive tier of Ontario’s pandemic protection plan.

It means that for at least the next 28 days, non-essential retailers can only offer curbside pickup, while restaurants are closed to all but takeout and delivery orders.

Personal services have also been forced to close, but schools and child-care centres remain open.

Premier Doug Ford announced the move on Friday, but it didn’t come into effect until 12:01 a.m. today.

That gave residents of Toronto and Peel the chance to stock up over the weekend, and many did — flooding local malls, even as those facilities extended hours in an effort to prevent too many people from coming at once.

While Toronto and Peel face the strictest measures, other areas of the province are also seeing rules tighten.

Durham Region and Waterloo joined York Region in the red classification today. The rules limit restaurants, gyms and food courts to 10 indoor patrons with social distancing, with even tighter restrictions on private gatherings.

The areas around Huron, Perth, Simcoe, Muskoka, and Windsor-Essex have moved to the orange classification, which caps gatherings at staffed businesses to 50 people indoors, or four per table at restaurants.

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