Some Ottawa-area restaurants are keeping their patios alive during the Omicron-driven wave.
Some Ottawa-area public health experts would like to see the province's COVID-19 vaccine passport require Ontarians have a booster shot in order to enter a range of indoor establishments.
Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday the province will begin lifting public health restrictions at the end of the month, and said no changes to the two-dose requirement are currently planned.
With western Canadian harvests decimated by drought-like conditions in 2021, plus general COVID-19 supply chain issues, eastern Ontario barley farmers say there are more opportunities to meet the needs of the province's brewers and distillers.
Several Ottawa-area restaurants have opened outdoor patios during the current Omicron-driven wave of the pandemic, and we're mapping them.
Ottawa Public Health reported four deaths on Saturday. The local hospitalization count is high, but stable, as is the most recent data on coronavirus wastewater levels.
Numbers to watch
Testing can't meet demand during the Omicron surge, meaning many people with COVID-19 won't be reflected in the case count. Hospitalizations and wastewater monitoring can help fill in some of the grey areas.
The average level of coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater is stable at a very high level. It's also high and stable in Kingston.
There are 87 Ottawa residents in local hospitals for treatment of active COVID-19. Eleven of these patients are in an ICU. Both numbers are high, but stable. They also don't tell the entire hospital picture.
Ottawa-Gatineau area confirmed COVID-19 cases
As of Saturday, Ottawa has had 55,339 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are 3,709 known active cases — a number that may actually be much higher — and 661 residents have died from the illness.
Local public health officials have reported about 120,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec.
There are about 289 local COVID hospital patients and about 36 of then in intensive care. Both numbers have been more stable than they were earlier in January. This does not include Hastings Prince Edward Public Health and its different way of reporting.
In eastern Ontario outside of Ottawa, 296 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 245.
What are the rules?
The province's private gathering limits are five people indoors and 10 outside.
Indoor dining, gyms and museums are among the closures, while other businesses and religious services can reach 50 per cent capacity.
The province plans to roll back these rules in stages starting Jan. 31, when most closed businesses can reopen and private gathering limits go back up.
In-person learning is back.
The province's vaccine passport is required for many public places for people above 12 years and 12 weeks old. People can prove they've had at least two vaccine doses with a paper or digital document that has a QR code.
Indoor gatherings involving more than one household bubble are generally prohibited.
Restaurant dining rooms are closed, as are most places of worship. Indoor sports have also been cancelled.
Schools are reopen for in-person learning.
Quebec's health minister said earlier this month that people will eventually have to have three doses for the passport. The premier said people who remain unvaccinated without a medical exemption will have to pay a health tax.
What can I do?
That level of spread puts vulnerable people at risk and is making staffing a challenge in many sectors, delaying many more medical procedures and increasing the workload of staff who aren't sick or isolating.
There are signs that COVID-19 spread during this pandemic wave may be peaking at very high levels and without these staffing pressures easing yet.
Health officials say people should recommit to the fundamentals of getting all vaccine doses as they're eligible for and staying home when sick. If people are going to have social visits, they should keep them small and do it outside if possible.
Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands and have supplies in case they need to isolate.
Travellers older than 12 years and four months must be fully vaccinated to board a plane, train or marine vessel in Canada.
The federal government is officially advising against non-essential international travel.
The U.S. requires all adults crossing a land, air or water border to be fully vaccinated. People flying there will need proof of a negative COVID-19 test within a day of departure.
The hope is that other countries will accept provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.
Both local provinces generally recommend doses for kids age five to 11 be given at least eight weeks apart for the best possible protection. Some health authorities say parents can request a shorter interval; the minimum time between doses is three weeks.
Guidance varies on when, not if, people should get a third dose after contracting COVID-19. Experts do agree people shouldn't get it until they're feeling recovered.
There have been more than 4.8 million first, second and third COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million residents.
Eligible people can look for provincial appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.
Pharmacies and some family doctors offer vaccines through their own booking systems.
All adults are eligible for a third dose; the general recommendation between second and third is three months.
Symptoms, treatment and testing
"Long-haul" symptoms can last for months.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
In eastern Ontario:
Only high-risk people with symptoms or who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can get a laboratory-checked PCR test due to Omicron-fuelled demand.
Qualified people can check with their health unit for clinic locations and hours. Other people with symptoms should assume they have COVID-19 and isolate.
Only students and teachers who show symptoms at school will have access to PCR tests. Rapid and take-home tests are available in some child-care settings when risk is high.
Travellers who need a test have local options to pay for one.
In western Quebec:
Quebec has also stopped giving PCR tests to the general public.
PCR tests will be reserved for those in high-risk settings such as hospitals, long-term care homes, detention centres and homeless shelters.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in both Ontario and Quebec.
Akwesasne has COVID-19 test and vaccine information online or at 613-575-2341. Residents can call its Community in Quarantine Program if they need help getting essentials while isolating.
The neighbouring Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is also offering tests.
It has had more than 1,600 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 18 deaths between its northern and southern sections.
People in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg can call the health centre at 819-449-5593 for a test or vaccine; email is another option for vaccine booking. Ode Widokazowin can help people in isolation get groceries at 819-449-2323.
It had more than 150 confirmed cases and one death as of mid-January; 118 of those cases since Dec. 3, 2021.
People in Pikwàkanagàn can call a COVID-19 hotline at 613-401-0428 for updates on its response. It's offering PCR tests four mornings a week.
The community didn't have any confirmed COVID-19 cases until December 2021; it had 61 confirmed cases as of Jan. 14.
Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call its community health team at 613-967-3603, text it at 613-686-5510 or send it an email. It had 91 confirmed cases and two deaths until it paused sharing its count in early January 2022.
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.