What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa for the week of May 2

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS:

OPH still considers there to be a high level of COVID in the city and strongly recommends that people take steps to protect themselves and others.

The Quebec Health Research Institute said the province’s sixth wave may be coming to an end. Its acting public health director says he will decide early this week whether to reduce mask mandates on May 14 or wait a bit longer.

Moderna says it is working on a submission to Health Canada for approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children under six.

What are the numbers to watch?

Testing strategies have changed under the contagious variant of Omicron and many people with COVID-19 are not reflected in case counts. The number of hospitalizations and the sewage signal offer additional data that can help complete the picture.

There is more information in our daily story on key figures.

Ottawa

The average level of coronavirus detected in Ottawa’s sewage has been stable for about 10 days and is about nine times higher than it was before the peak in mid-March.

There were 40 Ottawa residents in local hospitals for treatment of active COVID-19 according to Friday’s OPH report. Five needed intensive care.

Ottawa has had 71,382 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 777 residents have died from the disease.

The wider region

Western Quebec has about 95 hospitalized COVID patients, including those who are no longer considered an active case. Six are in intensive care.

Eastern Ontario outside of Ottawa has about 60 hospitalizations related to COVID-19. About 15 of these patients require intensive care. These figures do not include Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, which has a different way of counting patients.

Wastewater levels in Kingston are stable or declining. In Leeds, Grenville and Lanark (LGL) counties, the signal is high and stable in Brockville and weak and stable elsewhere.

Eastern Ontario as a whole has the highest regional wastewater average in the province.

In the rest of Eastern Ontario, 469 people with COVID-19 have died. The death toll is 304 in western Quebec.

Approximately 5.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to residents of the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

Rates of eligible Eastern Ontarians having received at least two doses of vaccine range from 81-92%; adults with a third dose range from 59-70%. These figures are not regularly available for western Quebec.

How can I manage risk?

COVID-19 spreads through droplets that can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms, including after receiving a vaccine.

The dominant Omicron BA.2 subvariant is more contagious, but generally less lethal for vaccinated people without underlying conditions.

This level of spread puts vulnerable people at risk and can make it difficult to cover isolated personnel.

Officials say people must take personal responsibility as government rules shift to recommendations.

They urge people to get all the vaccine doses they are entitled to – especially if they are over 50 – to stay home when sick, to wear medical masks in crowded and indoor spaces, to keep hands clean, distance away, see others outdoors and limit close contact, while considering community spread and vaccination rates in the area.

What are the rules?

There are no provincial vaccination requirements or capacity limits in Ontario and Quebec.

Masks are only required in certain indoor settings in Ontario. Ontario’s COVID-19 rules have been extended until at least June 11.

Quebec has pushed back plans to lift most mask mandates until May 14 at the earliest. Clarity on that date should come this week.

Some places may choose to continue to require people to wear masks, be vaccinated, or both. Mask rules may be different in places that fall under different jurisdictions, such as the Ottawa airport.

Ontario and Quebec’s isolation rules have relaxed for certain close contacts.

Travel

Travelers over 12 years and four months must be fully immunized to board a plane or train in Canada. People aged six and over must wear masks.

People must be fully vaccinated, pre-approved and asymptomatic to enter Canada without quarantine.

The United States requires all adults crossing a border to be fully immunized. People traveling there will need proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or recent COVID recovery.

Travelers who need a test have local options for paying for one.

Vaccines

Vaccines slow the spread of all variants of COVID-19 and go a long way in preventing deaths and hospitalizations without providing full protection.

Six COVID-19 vaccines are safe and approved in Canada, with some age restrictions.

Eastern Ontario

Eligible individuals can search for provincial appointments online or by phone at 1-833-943-3900.

Adults can book a third catch once 84 days have passed since their second. Third doses are available for ages 12 to 17 after 168 days.

The fourth doses are offered to all people aged 60 and over and to certain groups. The recommended time after a third dose varies.

Check local health unit websites for clinics and specific local rules. Some pharmacies and family doctors offer vaccines through their own reservation systems.

Western Quebec

Eligible residents can get an appointment online by calling 1-877-644-4545. There are also walk-in clinics.

Anyone 12 years and older is eligible for a third dose; the generally recommended waiting time after one second is three months.

Fourth doses are available for people 60 and older and certain high-risk groups.

Symptoms, treatment and tests

COVID-19[feminine] can range from a cold-like illness to a serious lung infection, with common symptoms such as fever, cough, headache, fatigue and vomiting. If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

The “long-haul” symptoms can last for months.

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

WATCH | COVID and the unusually late flu season:

Unusually late flu season hits Canada

Experts believe the lifting of public health restrictions could be behind an increase in flu cases across the country, adding pressure on hospitals already strained by the sixth wave of the pandemic. 2:02

Ontario and Quebec are using antiviral treatments on certain groups of people at higher risk of serious problems from COVID-19. Some need to start within a certain time frame of symptom development, some are preventative.

Quebec offers the Paxlovid pill free of charge in pharmacies on the recommendation of a health professional.

Ontario eligibility includes anyone age 70 and older. Its healthcare providers are empowered to prescribe it to others, and pharmacies are able to give Paxlovid alongside clinical assessment centers, where people can get tested and treated.

Trials

Ontario and Quebec have limited lab-verified PCR testing to those most at risk due to demand generated by Omicron.

Ontario expanded this in April to all people age 70 and older and immunocompromised adults, for example.

Qualified individuals can check with their health authority for locations and times. Other people with symptoms should assume they have COVID-19 and self-isolate.

Both provinces offer rapid testing at participating stores and daycares. People can also buy them. Quebecers can report rapid test results online.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis

Indigenous people, or people who travel to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a PCR test in Ontario and Quebec.

Ottawa Inuit can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 on weekdays for tests and vaccinations in Inuktitut or English.

Akwesasne has COVID-19, testing and vaccine information online or at 613-575-2341. His mask mandate now corresponds to the date of June 11 in Ontario. Nineteen residents have died between its northern and southern sections and around 2,000 residents had tested positive up to April 2022, when its northern section stopped sharing a total.

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg residents can call 819-449-8085 for testing on Wednesday, if they qualify. Rapid tests are available at the health center. It had more than 175 confirmed cases and one death as of mid-January.

Pikwàkanagàn is directing people to its health services for COVID help. The community had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 through December 2021; it had 114 confirmed cases as of March 11.

The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte are retaining mask mandates for government buildings until May 2. Anyone interested in a PCR test or vaccine can call 613-967-3603, rapid tests are available at the wellness center on weekdays. It has two deaths and 91 confirmed cases until it stopped sharing its tally in January 2022.

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