What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Thursday, April 1

Recent developments:

  • Ontario is going into another shutdown that starts Saturday at 12:01 a.m.
  • Rules tighten in the Outaouais tonight, particularly in the Gatineau area.
  • The Outaouais is reporting 126 more COVID-19 cases, while Ottawa reports 116.
  • Vaccine eligibility is expanding in ages, pharmacies.

What’s the latest?

Changes are coming in the pandemic’s rising third wave.

All of Ontario will go into another shutdown. The premier announced Thursday that he’s imposing a provincewide ’emergency brake’ due to a surge in COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations across the province.

It begins 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and will last for at least four weeks.

WATCH | Ontario’s announcement on rule changes:

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, says new COVID-19 infections are outpacing the rate of vaccinations, leading to a need for stronger restrictions. 0:57

This morning, new models detailed how Ontario’s situation could get even worse.

The Outaouais is moving to Quebec’s red zone rules as of 8 p.m. ET tonight and there are even stronger rules for Gatineau and MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, including closing schools and an earlier curfew.

Health officials in the Outaouais reported another record of 126 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, more than the 116 cases in Ottawa. Two more people died of COVID-19 in each of those areas.

Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine pilot project in pharmacies is expanding to include at least two in every local health unit and to people at or above age 55 as early as Saturday.

How many cases are there?

As of Thursday, 17,410 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,263 known active cases, 15,681 resolved cases and 466 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 31,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 28,400 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.

Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had seven, with one death.

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 can I do?

Eastern Ontario:

A top science advisor says Ontario’s COVID-19 spread is completely out of control.

Ottawa Public Health said Thursday its contact tracers can’t keep up with the pace of spread, its test sites don’t have much more capacity and there’s pressure on the health-care system.

WATCH | Ottawa’s rising COVID-19 numbers ‘disheartening’:

Quebec Premier François Legault announced a return to strict restrictions for several cities in the province including Gatineau, which will close non-essential businesses and schools and return to an 8 p.m. curfew. 1:14

Ontario’s expected shutdown Saturday would include rules similar (but not identical to) grey-lockdown rules, according to sources.

That would close gyms and personal care services and ban indoor dining at restaurants. Non-essential businesses would stay open at 25 per cent capacity.

Under current grey rules, people can only sit on a patio with people they live with.

A group on an Ottawa patio Oct. 29, 2020. It’s not yet known whether patios will be open or closed under Ontario’s coming provincewide lockdown. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Indoor gatherings are not allowed in grey except for people who live together and the usual exception for people who live alone. Outdoor gatherings can have a maximum of 10 distanced people and religious services can be bigger if space allows.

Schools would not 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.

Local health units can also set their own rules, like what Kingston’s is doing around gatherings, Prince Edward County’s is doing around travel and Renfrew County’s is doing around dining.

The new rules may replace some or all of those local rules. This section will be updated.

Western Quebec

Quebec is now in its third wave. Premier François Legault said the situation is critical in Gatineau and asked people there to only leave home when it’s essential.

Schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses close from tonight at 8 p.m. until Monday, April 12 at 5 a.m. in Gatineau and 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. The start of the curfew moves up to 8 p.m.

Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people. Places of worship can have a maximum of 25 people.

WATCH | The premier discusses the rules:

Dr. Brigitte Pinard, director of public health with CISSSO, says the level of COVID-19 infections in the region is higher than at any other time during the pandemic, with more than 50 per cent of cases being suspected variants of the virus. 1:34

The rest of the Outaouais is moving to red zone rules, which closes restaurant dining rooms but keeps schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses open with restrictions.

The start of the curfew remains at 9:30 p.m.

Weddings and funerals can have a maximum of 25 people, while other religious services can go up to 250 distanced people.

WATCH | The serious situation in the Outaouais:

Front Burner21:47The final showdown? How to fight the 3rd wave

For epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan, the third wave of the pandemic is like the climactic battle scene of an action movie, when the foe is scariest and the hero is at their most tired. Here’s what he thinks it will take to win this last big fight against COVID-19. 21:47

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.

Distancing and isolating

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

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. New coronavirus variants can be more contagious and are spreading quickly in some places.

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 — keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.

The pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, especially how we sleep. Psychologists and sleep scientists tell Adrienne Arsenault how the brain makes sense of this bizarre time and why many people are having such vivid dreams. 5:42

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

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.

People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and have to pay for their stay in a quarantine hotel if entering by air.

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 varies in Quebec and Ontario.


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, meaning jurisdictions can spread first doses widely.

About 312,000 doses have been given out in the wider 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.

The provincewide campaign has expanded to include more priority groups such as all people over age 75, and people 70 and older in certain regions. People can book appointments online or over the phone.

Phase 2 should include people with underlying health conditions in April, followed by people who can’t work from home or are 60 and older in June.

Phase 3, slated to begin in July, will involve vaccinating anyone older than 16.

Health-care worker Thi Nguyen waits to administer the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 clinic in Ottawa’s Nepean Sportsplex March 30, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites for details.

Some Ottawans in certain neighbourhoods can check their eligibility online and call the city at 613-691-5505 for an appointment. So can Indigenous people over age 16.

People who are above or turning age 55 can contact participating pharmacies for a vaccine appointment as part of a pilot project. 

Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers.

The vaccination plan now covers people age 65 and older at western Quebec clinics. That will be followed by essential workers and finally the general public.

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.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. Pharmacists there will also be giving shots and people can book their appointments now in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge.

Symptoms and testing

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.

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

WATCH | Why the pandemic can lead to vivid dreams:

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.

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.

Ottawa’s drive-thru COVID-19 test site at RCGT Park east of downtown on Sept. 4, 2020. The site is reopening here as of April 7, replacing the site at the National Arts Centre. The NAC site’s last day is Sunday. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

In western Quebec:

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

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

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.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only and a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. It’s closed to non-essential visits until April 11.

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.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-1175. Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and in Kitigan Zibi, 819-449-5593.

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.

For more information

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