- Another nine people have died from COVID-19, according to Ottawa Public Health’s Saturday report.
- The virus has also killed a fifth resident of CHSLD Lionel-Emond in Gatineau, according to the Outaouais health authority.
- Ontario reported 346 new cases Saturday, bringing the total to 19,944.
- The City of Ottawa has announced $3 million in funding for homeless shelters and other community organizations to help pay for basics like extra food, cleaning and staff during the pandemic.
- Kingston’s mayor wants Premier Doug Ford to reconsider a request to allow a regional approach to easing COVID-19 restrictions.
- Gatineau Park reopens today to people who can access it by foot or by bike.
- Following new bleak job numbers, the federal government has announced it’s extending the emergency wage subsidy past June.
- Visit our Facebook page dedicated to feel-good local stories; today we profile a volunteer group that’s sewn almost 10,000 masks.
What’s happening this weekend?
It’s the first weekend of a very different Canadian Tulip Festival — one that’s mostly taking place online this year. The National Capital Commission is asking that people keep a safe distance while photographing the flowers, after initially saying photography was prohibited.
Part of Ottawa’s Queen Elizabeth Driveway is now closed to vehicles until May 24. The National Capital Commission (NCC) says it will offer more pedestrian and cyclist access to its parkways on weekends, promising details soon.
How many cases are there?
There are now 1,644 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa and 157 deaths linked to the respiratory illness. There are more than 2,550 known cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec.
More than 1,500 people in the region have recovered from COVID-19.
The deaths of 43 people in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, and 18 more in the wider region, have also been tied to the coronavirus.
Confirmed cases are just a snapshot because everyone can’t be tested and the results take time to process, though testing criteria are slowly being expanded.
What’s open and closed?
Quebec plans to allow manufacturing businesses to start back up as of this coming Monday and Ontario has expanded what’s considered essential construction.
Ontario garden centres and nurseries can now welcome customers back inside under certain rules.
WATCH: Online flower sales spike before Mother’s Day
Ontario hardware stores can bring customers in Saturday and other retailers for curbside pickup starting Monday, as long as they have a street entrance and follow other rules.
Quebec has banned non-essential travel into and through the Outaouais until Monday, when the ban should be lifted everywhere but Gatineau.
The NCC plans to reopen Gatineau Park for people within walking or biking distance starting Saturday. It has mirrored Ottawa by letting locals throw a ball or sit on a blanket on its park space with people they live with.
Provincial and national parks remain closed.
Ottawa has cancelled event permits and closed many facilities until July. Quebec has asked organizers to cancel events until September.
As for schools: Ontario’s will remain closed through May, but Quebec plans to open local elementary schools and daycares on Monday for parents who want to send their kids.
Quebec high schools, CEGEPs and universities will stay closed to in-person classes until fall.
LISTEN: No regional flexibility for COVID-19 restrictions, says premier
Distancing and isolating
The coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, although people can be asymptomatic and still be contagious.
That means physical distancing measures remain in effect: people should avoid non-essential trips, work from home, cancel gatherings and stay at least two metres away from anyone they don’t live with.
Anyone who has symptoms, travelled recently outside Canada or, specifically in Ottawa, is waiting for a COVID-19 test result must self-isolate for at least 14 days.
The same goes for anyone in Ontario who’s been in contact with someone who’s tested positive or is presumed to have COVID-19.
People 70 and older or with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions should also self-isolate.
WATCH: When may ‘bubbles’ expand?
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, fatigue and a dry cough.
Other potential symptoms include a sore throat, runny nose and the loss of taste or smell.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
Where to get tested
Anyone concerned they have COVID-19 in Ontario can call Telehealth at 1-866-797-000 or fill out the province’s online assessment tool.
In Ottawa people who fit the criteria can be tested at the Brewer Arena from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., seven days a week.
Those with mild or moderate symptoms can visit clinics in Bells Corners or Alta Vista weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The public health unit in the Belleville area is asking people to call 613-966-5500 or one of its testing centres in Belleville, Trenton or Bancroft if they have symptoms. You may also qualify for a home test.
For local residents and employees who work in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area, there is a drive-thru test centre in Casselman and assessment centres in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don’t require people to call ahead, and others in Rockland, and Cornwall that require an appointment.
In Kingston, the assessment centre at the Kingston Memorial Centre is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for anyone with symptoms.
The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to call it if you have symptoms at 1-800-660-5853, ext. 2499.
It has testing sites open in Almonte and Smiths Falls which require a referral, as well as a walk-in site in Brockville at the Memorial Centre and a home test service for people in care or with mobility challenges.
Renfrew County is also providing home testing under some circumstances. Residents without a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 if they have health questions.
In western Quebec:
Outaouais residents should call 819-644-4545 if they have a cough or fever. They could end up being referred to Gatineau’s testing centre.
First Nations communities
Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.
Akwesasne has opened a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. Anyone returning to Akwesasne who’s been farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Anyone in Tyendinaga who has symptoms can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse.
Pikwakanagan‘s new council has ordered all businesses to close and has cancelled its August powwow.
Kitigan Zibi has postponed its June election and is keeping schools closed through the summer.
For more information
- Ottawa Public Health.
- Your local eastern Ontario health unit.
- The Ontario Ministry of Health (in several languages).
- The Centre integre de sante et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada.