COVID-19: What you need to know on Sunday, April 17

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Daily COVID-19 numbers for Ontario were not available on Sunday due to the Easter holiday. Ottawa Public Health does not report its numbers on weekends. Updated counts will be available early next week.

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New public health measures

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, visits to Outaouais hospitals have been suspended until further notice. The CISSS de l’Outaouais, the regional agency responsible for health and social services, said the policy was necessary to protect vulnerable patients, health workers and the general population.

Caregivers can continue to visit to help hospital patients. Visits for humanitarian reasons, such as end-of-life visits, are still possible, the agency said.

People giving birth are allowed one companion. The hospitals included are: Gatineau, Hull, Papineau, Maniwaki, Shawville, Wakefield and Pierre-Janet.

Meanwhile, Carleton University has announced that students and staff will be required to continue wearing masks on campus for the time being.

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Carleton joined a majority of Ontario universities that have decided to extend mandatory mask policies into the summer term due to rising rates of COVID-19.

Many Ontario universities had previously planned to lift mask mandates on May 1, but in recent days have announced that they will extend mask wearing.

As of Sunday, the University of Ottawa had not announced any changes to its plan to suspend mandatory face coverings on May 1.

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board students, staff and visitors are also required to wear masks again after the board approved a policy requiring it.

Ottawa-Carleton appears to be the only school board in Ontario to reintroduce mandatory masking after the province ended it in most closed public spaces on March 21.

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Masks are encouraged but optional at the other three Ottawa-area school boards.

Holiday weekend tips

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa Medical Officer of Health, encouraged people to wear masks indoors, stay home if sick, limit the size of social gatherings, and gather outdoors if possible to this end. holiday week.

“We are still in the midst of a significant wave and taking these precautions will help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” he said in a statement.

How to get vaccinated

Fourth doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available to Ontarians over the age of 60, as well as First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and household members over the age of 18.

Eligible individuals can reserve through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling 1-833-943-3900, through public health units using their own reservation systems, and at participating pharmacies. Some family doctors are also giving reinforcements.

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In Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health community clinics and after-school clinics are open for walk-in immunizations for anyone eligible for a first dose, second dose, or booster dose.

Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa

According to a provincial government announcement Monday, anyone age 70 and older, people age 60 and older with fewer than three doses of vaccines, and people age 18 and older with fewer than three doses and at least one factor of risk, such as a chronic medical condition, can now get tested. and evaluated for treatment.

Molecular testing has been prioritized in Ontario for those most at risk and those who live or work in high-risk settings. Those tests are processed in a laboratory.

Ottawa residents can get more information on the Ottawa Public Health website along with what to do if they have symptoms, test positive, or are high-risk contacts.

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Where to Get Rapid Tests in Ottawa

Ontario is distributing free rapid antigen tests through pharmacies and grocery stores across the province, with Health Minister Christine Elliott saying they would be delivered until at least July 31. Those tests can be done at home.

On Thursday, Ontario government officials said they are optimistic the current sixth wave of the pandemic has peaked, but public health officials say it’s premature to tell.

Montfort Hospital urged people to reduce risk over the weekend by wearing masks indoors and opening windows, as well as staying home when sick and making sure all guests are fully vaccinated.

Both the Prime Minister and Health Minister Christine Elliott also repeated Thursday that Ontario’s hospital system has the capacity to handle any surge in cases related to the current wave of the pandemic.

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That was the message the province’s Medical Director of Health gave to local public health officials who met with him on Wednesday night to ask the province to take more measures, such as mandatory mask wearing in schools. , to reduce the high rates of transmission of COVID-19 throughout the country. Province. The provincial government lifted most of the pandemic restrictions last month and says there is no need to reinstate them.

But the Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board and local public health officials are less optimistic that the worst of wave 6 of the pandemic is over or that the health system has the capacity to handle it.

Tyson Graber, co-principal investigator of the COVID-19 wastewater project in Ottawa and an associate scientist at the CHEO Research Institute, said it’s too early to say whether the wastewater has peaked, especially with a weekend approaching. holiday week.

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In a model released Thursday, the scientific desk said hospital occupancy is expected to continue to rise for some time “with uncertainty in the timing and height of the peak.” The scientific table also noted that infections in healthcare workers are already as high as they were during the Omicron wave in January, when hospitals postponed some surgeries and procedures. Some hospitals in the province have struggled to serve so many people due to COVID-19 in recent days, as have schools and other businesses.

Meanwhile, health law expert Jacob Shelley said it is a dereliction of duty for health boards to fail to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during a pandemic and that hospitalizations should not be the metric used to gauge the seriousness of the situation. Long-term COVID, he noted, is expected to affect a large number of infected people.

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On Thursday, Shelley, who is co-director of the Health Ethics, Law and Policy Laboratory at Western, sent a letter to the Ottawa board of health saying it is failing in its duty to prevent the spread of infectious disease and should take action under the mandate of the province. Health Protection and Promotion Law, whatever the province does.

“The law is intended to prevent the spread of disease and promote health, it is not an individual assessment. It is impossible to do an individual risk assessment,” she said in an interview.

In the letter to the Ottawa board of health, he warned that failure to act could result in legal liability.

“It is the duty of the health board to guarantee disease prevention and the final responsibility for not protecting the health of the residents of this health unit will fall on this body.”

With archives from The Canadian Press

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