What’s the latest?
With Quebec mandating the closure of non-essential businesses for two weeks starting Christmas Day, some are left wondering what to do if people from Gatineau cross the provincial border to do their Boxing Day shopping in Ottawa.
Family doctors in Ottawa are still playing catch-up on procedures and there’s concern of a further backlog if COVID-19 cases rise over the holidays.
Ottawa reported 41 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and no more deaths.
How many cases are there?
As of Wednesday, 9,159 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 361 known active cases, 8,411 resolved cases and 387 deaths linked to COVID-19.
Public health officials have reported more than 15,700 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 13,900 resolved cases.
Ninety-one people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 96 people have died in western Quebec.
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.
Ontario says this will apply through December’s holidays.
Its health officials say they recognize some people are unable or unwilling to spend the holidays alone for reasons such as their mental health. If that’s the case, they have advice on how to take the fewest risks possible.
Health units may have more specific advice for their residents.
Dr. Paul penned an important message for the community concerning the upcoming holiday season. Please visit our website to read the full letter. <a href=”https://t.co/3S1xPffFfI”>https://t.co/3S1xPffFfI</a> <a href=”https://t.co/bzqoBsQXQM”>pic.twitter.com/bzqoBsQXQM</a>
Ottawa and the EOHU are in the orange zone of Ontario’s five-colour pandemic scale, the highest level that allows live music, movie theatres, team sports and organized events up to 50 people inside and 100 outside.
Three other eastern Ontario health units are under yellow zone restrictions:
- The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health.
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.
That means restaurant hours, table limits and rules around capacity fall somewhere between those in place in Ottawa and Renfrew County, which is currently green, the lowest level.
The province says people shouldn’t travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.
In Gatineau, Que., and the surrounding area, considered a red zone by that province, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it’s essential, including for Christmas. There is an exception for people living alone.
The rest of the region moves to red today.
That means no indoor dining at restaurants and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.
Quebec will shut down non-essential businesses between Dec. 25 and Jan. 11 and has extended holiday school closures until Jan. 11.
Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout Quebec. The rules won’t be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.
What about schools?
There have been more than 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.
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 and get friends and family to help with errands.
Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by Health Canada. Doses are now being given to health-care workers in Ottawa and it’s expected the general public can get vaccinated between April and December 2021.
Where to get tested
In eastern Ontario:
Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.
Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you’ve been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. That no longer includes international travellers.
People without symptoms, but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester.
People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.
The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test clinic visiting smaller communities or people with problems getting to a site.
It is holding a test clinic by appointment at the Carleton Place Arena tomorrow morning.
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.
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 had most of its known COVID-19 cases in November. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel, and its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back.
Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. 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 had its first confirmed case last month.
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.
For more information
Ontario Newsroom – Government of Ontario News
How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s first case – CityNews Toronto
On Jan. 25, 2020, Canadians were still living their lives like they always had: commuting to the office, visiting friends, dining out, hugging loved ones, vacationing. But the announcement that day of Canada’s first COVID-19 case set in motion a chain of events that would soon change everything.
By March, with cases climbing, health officials began implementing a series of measures that would fundamentally alter how many Canadians live. Lockdowns and calls for physical distancing led to companies shifting to work from home, travel restrictions, mask-wearing rules, cancellation of major events, and video meetings replacing in-person interactions as people were asked to avoid seeing anyone, even loved ones.
Jack Jedwab, the president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says the biggest change to Canadians’ daily lives has been the isolation from friends, family and co-workers.
“I think at the root of a lot of that change is these limits on our mobility, which take different forms, whether it’s interacting with family and friends, or seeing people that we’re accustomed to seeing in our daily lives in person as opposed to on screens,” he said.
An online survey conducted for Jedwab’s group in September found that over 90 per cent of the 1,500 people polled said COVID-19 had changed their lives, with most citing the inability to see family and friends as the biggest factors.
While few Canadians have been untouched by the pandemic, Jedwab says women, newcomers to Canada and people who were already economically and socially vulnerable appear to have been among the most deeply affected, particularly by job losses.
Here’s a look at how COVID-19 has changed daily life for some Canadians of different groups:
For Bill VanGorder, a retired 78-year-old from Halifax, the pandemic put a temporary halt on his active social life and his favourite pastimes of volunteering in the local theatre and music scenes.
“Theatre people, as you may know, are people who love to hug, and not being able to hug in these times probably has been one of the most difficult things,” he said in a phone interview.
He considers himself lucky, because at least he and his wife Esther have each other, unlike many of his single friends who are completely isolated. Many older people, who are more at risk of severe complications from COVID-19, are struggling to stay connected with family or finding people to help them with household tasks.
VanGorder, who works with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, also believes unclear government messaging, particularly on when older adults will get access to the vaccine, is “creating huge anxiety and mistrust in the system,” among already-nervous seniors.
But while the pandemic has been hard, he says there have also been silver linings. He and many of his friends have been learning to use platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime, which help seniors stay in touch with relatives and connect with their communities.
“We think the positive thing is that, of course, this knowledge will continue after COVID and will be a real step forward, so that older adults can feel more involved in everything that’s going on around them,” he said.
The first thing he’ll do when things get back to normal is to hug his grandchildren and theatre friends, he said.
As classes have moved online, many students have had to adapt to living and studying in small spaces and being isolated from friends and campus life at a stage when forging lifelong friendships and social networks can be crucial.
Small living quarters, the inability to travel home, financial fears and uncertainties about the job market have contributed to a “greater sense of isolation” for many students, according to Bryn de Chastelain, an Ontario resident studying at St. Mary’s University in Halifax and the chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.
While he believes schools have done their best to support students, de Chastelain says many students have seen their mental health suffer.
“A number of students are really struggling with having to learn from home and learn online, and I think that a number of strategies that students are used to taking up are very difficult to replicate in the online environment,” he said.
Schools across the country were shut down for several months in the spring, ushering in a challenging time for parents who were suddenly forced to juggle full-time child care, work and keeping their families safe.
The reopening of schools in the fall brought different challenges depending on each province’s COVID-19 situation and approach. In Ontario, some parents opted for full-time online learning, while others were forced into it when Premier Doug Ford chose to extend the winter break. In Quebec, which doesn’t allow a remote option for most students, some reluctant parents had no choice but to send their children back to class.
“I think uncertainty, not only for kids but for everything — work, life relationships and everything — that has certainly been the theme of COVID,” said Doug Liberman, a Montreal-area father of two.
Liberman said the biggest challenge has been trying to balance the health and safety of his family with keeping his food manufacturing business going and maintaining a sense of normalcy for his two girls, ages 10 and 12.
For his family, that has meant trying to spend time outside but also accepting more screen time, and ultimately, taking things day-by-day.
“I certainly think that we certainly don’t have the answer, and I think we’ve done as best as we could, like everybody else has,” he said.
Military to support vaccination efforts in northern Ontario Indigenous communities – Red Deer Advocate
TORONTO — The Canadian military is set to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution in northern Ontario, as officials investigate the death of a teenager who had the virus and worked at a long-term care home in the province’s southwest.
Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair tweeted Sunday that the Canadian Armed Forces will support vaccine efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. The move came after a request from the province for assistance in getting vaccine to First Nations communities, he wrote.
“Our government will always be there to support the fight against #COVID19,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation, whose territory comprises 49 remote communities in northwestern Ontario, did not immediately comment on the pending deployment.
Meanwhile, officials in Middlesex-London said Sunday that a male teen who worked in a long-term care facility in the region was among the three deaths reported on the area’s COVID-19 case site earlier in the weekend.
Dr. Alexander Summers, associate medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said he couldn’t provide the exact age or any other details about the teen.
But he said the person was a staff member of the long-term care home who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and died earlier in the week.
“Through the course of our investigation, the potential exposures could be many, but certainly the long-term care home is a potential exposure for this individual,” Summers said in an interview.
Summers said to his knowledge, the teen was not hospitalized with COVID-19.
He is the youngest person to have died after contracting the virus in the county, Summers said, noting the majority of deaths they’ve seen among COVID-19 patients have been in an older demographic.
“It can have severe impacts on people of all ages and this story and this unfortunate and tragic situation as a reminder of that,” Summers said.
“Certainly, this is a very rare occurrence. It’s a rare event. And the investigation continues as to understanding what exactly might have happened. However, regardless, it’s a sad day.”
The Roberta Place Retirement Lodge long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., north of Toronto, also made headlines over the weekend after health officials said a U.K. variant of COVID-19 was behind a deadly outbreak there.
On Sunday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said it had learned of an additional individual with the U.K. variant within the region.
The unit said that individual had close contact with a person who is also part of a COVID-19 outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community, a long-term care home in Bradford West Gwillimbury, south of Barrie.
Officials are now investigating whether that outbreak is also due to the U.K. variant.
Ontario reported 2,417 new cases of COVID-19 and 50 more deaths related to the virus on Sunday.
The numbers were slightly up from Saturday’s 2,359 cases, though deaths declined by two from previous figures.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 785 new cases in Toronto, 404 in Peel Region, 215 in York Region and 121 in Niagara.
Over 48,900 tests had been completed in Ontario over the past 24 hours.
The province reported that 4,427 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since the province’s last report, and 1,436 are hospitalized with the virus.
A total of 280,573 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario so far.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 255,002 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. Of those, 225,046 have recovered and 5,803 people have died.
On Monday, the province plans to issue the results of a weekend-long expansion of its “inspection blitz” of big-box stores to ensure they were following COVID-19 guidelines.
The workplace inspections, which started in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas last weekend, stretched out to Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham regions.
Preliminary figures from Saturday showed inspectors went into 310 big-box stores and issued 34 tickets and 53 orders, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said Sunday.
Overall, inspectors found the stores were only at “64 per cent compliance, which the minister said wasn’t good enough.
“The three big issues that we’re finding this weekend: masking protocols aren’t being followed, in some cases; the physical distancing is still an issue in some stores; and this weekend we found that some of these big-box stores don’t have a safety plan that’s required of them to prevent COVID-19 from coming into the workplace,” McNaughton said in an interview.
“Every business should know at this point in the pandemic what’s expected of them.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021.
Parliament resumes amid heightened political pressure on pandemic, COVID-19 vaccines – The Globe and Mail
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 – 95.7 News
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