Recent developments:

Ottawa is reporting 119 new cases of COVID-19 but no new deaths on Thanksgiving Monday. The province is not sharing any new information about case totals because of the holiday. The Canadian Red Cross is being dispatched to help out at seven Ottawa-area long-term care homes. Demand is skyrocketing for the flu vaccine as health officials try to stave off a “twindemic.” The pandemic has meant many Grade 7 students aren’t being vaccinated at school for human papillomavirus at schools, and that has some doctors concerned. Gatineau and parts of the Outaouais have now been moved to COVID-19 red alert status, the highest level possible in Quebec. OC Transpo will fine people starting Tuesday if they don’t wear masks without a good reason. What’s the latest?

Ottawa Public Health reported 119 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, more than double the 54 reported one day earlier. 

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, is urging people in Ottawa-Gatineau and beyond to keep their Thanksgiving gatherings small — or even celebrate virtually this year.

Seven long-term care facilities in the Ottawa area will soon be getting assistance from the Canadian Red Cross.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said yesterday the federal government had approved the province’s request for help, although it’s not clear specifically what the Red Cross workers will be doing at the seven homes — two of which do not have COVID-19 outbreaks.

As COVID-19 cases remain high in Ottawa and other hotspots in the province, demand for the flu vaccine is soaring. Health officials say there should be enough to go around.

The HPV vaccine, meanwhile, will not be available this fall to many Grade 7 students in Ontario in the school setting, and that has some clinicians worried about a spike in preventable cancers down the road.

As of tomorrow, OC Transpo’s special constables will start fining people for not wearing masks on buses, trains and at stations. 

WATCH | At Issue on the COVID-19 Thanksgiving:

The At Issue panel unpacks the mixed messages on COVID-19 guidelines ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend, especially from Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Plus, in this extended edition, the panellists weigh in on the prime minister’s comments about the U.S. election and the new Green Party leader. 15:37 How many cases are there?

As of Ottawa Public Health (OPH)’s Monday update, there have been 5,546 Ottawa residents who’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

That includes 838 known active cases, 4,411 resolved cases and 297 deaths.

Overall, public health officials have reported more than 8,300 cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with nearly 6,700 of those cases considered resolved.

COVID-19 has killed 104 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 people have died in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 34 in the Outaouais and 18 in other parts of eastern Ontario.

What can I do?

Ontario is telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with or one other home if people live alone.

In general, occasionally seeing a small number of other people at a time they don’t live with outdoors and more than two metres apart carries a lower risk of transmission.

In Ottawa, the second wave is being driven by people ignoring health rules.

Ottawa’s medical officer of health has said the entire health-care system is on the verge of collapse and is advising people to celebrate Thanksgiving only with members of their immediate household.

Other eastern Ontario health units with different COVID-19 situations may have slightly different Thanksgiving advice.

Ottawans are also being told not to have a Halloween party and consider alternatives to trick-or-treating and usual late-December gathering plans.

People wear face masks as they shop for pumpkins at a market in Montreal on Sunday, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Western Quebec’s health authority says residents need to stop seeing all people they don’t live with, even outdoors, until the end of October.

Gatineau and parts of the Outaouais are now on red alert, which means — just like in Ottawa — restaurants and bars can’t serve people indoors, while organized sports are suspended and theatres and performance halls must close.

Quebecers are also urged not to travel to other regions.

<a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> – The <a href=””>@GouvQc</a> has announced that <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Gatineau</a> will be at the red alert level effective Sunday, October 11. ⁰⁰See the means taken by the City to adjust and apply the gov. directives while continuing to offer services: <a href=””></a> <a href=””></a>

&mdash;@ville_gatineau What about schools?

There have been more than 160 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.

Ontario updated its COVID-19 school symptom rules last week.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something.

People can be contagious without symptoms.

This means people should take precautions like staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with — even when you have a mask on.

Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended outdoors when people can’t stay the proper distance from others.

Ottawa will start fining people who don’t wear a mask on OC Transpo without a valid reason on Oct. 13.

People wearing masks make their way to the bus stops at the Tunney’s Pasture LRT station in Ottawa on Sept. 3, 2020. Starting Tuesday, transit riders who don’t have a good reason not to wear a mask could be fined. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate, as should anyone told to by a public health unit. If Ottawans don’t, they face a fine of up to $5,000 per day in court.

Kingston’s medical officer of health has said people living with someone waiting for a test result now do not need to self-isolate, while someone with COVID-19 now has to isolate for at least 10 days from the day they first experience symptoms.

Most people with a confirmed COVID-19 case in Quebec can end their self-isolation after 10 days under certain conditions.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. 

Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.

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, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. 

Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.

Getting tested any sooner than five days after potential exposure may not be useful since the virus may not yet be detectable, says OPH.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

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

WATCH | HPV vaccinations in schools suspended during pandemic 

Dr. Vivian Brown says school-based programs see a larger uptake in children getting the vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer. 1:09 Where to get tested

In eastern Ontario:

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you’ve been told to by your health unit or the province.

Anyone seeking a test should now book an appointment. Different sites in the area have different ways to book, including over the phone or going in person to get a time slot.

People without symptoms, but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select Ottawa pharmacies.

Most of Ottawa’s testing happens at four permanent sites, with additional mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. The Coventry Road clinic will be closed on Thanksgiving Monday.

There is limited walk-up capacity and telephone booking for some sites for people without internet access and priority groups such as health-care workers.

In the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, the Limoges drive-thru centre is now taking appointments.

The health unit also has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. All are closed on Monday.

In Kingston, the test site is at the Beechgrove Complex and online booking isn’t available yet. For now, people are asked to go to the complex to make an appointment.

Napanee’s test centre is open daily for people who call ahead.

People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls.

Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.

In western Quebec:

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.

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms. People without symptoms can also get a test.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has a mobile 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.

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.

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.

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