Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last revised on March 31, 2020.

If this is a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

Please read the following text CAREFULLY before calling Ottawa Public Health (OPH) or seeking healthcare. You DO NOT need a phone assessment by OPH to access appropriate care based on the information. 

Please note: In order to decrease transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health is now recommending that all residents of Ottawa practice physical distancing

The priority of the healthcare system is being able to test those who are most in need. Not everyone requires testing. People WITHOUT respiratory symptoms (such as fever or cough) will NOT be tested for COVID-19, regardless of potential exposures. 

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use the Ontario Government self-assessment tool to help determine how to seek further care.

Even if you do not have symptoms, YOU MUST self-isolate for 14 days if: 

  • You have travelled anywhere outside of Canada (including the United States of America).
  • You live with, provided care for, or spent extensive time with someone who has: 
    • Tested positive for COVID-19, OR is suspected to have COVID-19, OR who has respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) that started within 14 days of travel outside of Canada. 
  • Given the greater risk of severe outcomes to Ontarians who are elderly, it is strongly recommending that individuals over 70 years of age self-isolate. 

If you have MILD symptoms, where you are NOT short of breath and can manage symptoms reasonably at home:

  • Do NOT call Ottawa Public Health.
  • Self-isolate for 14 days or until 24 hours AFTER symptoms have FULLY resolved, whichever is longer.

NOTE: Most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.

For employees, if your employer requires a sick note please send them this letter from Ottawa Public Health. For employers, please visit our COVID-19 info page for workplaces.

If you have ESCALATING SYMPTOMS such as a new or worsening cough and/or fever, AND have either travelled outside of Canada or been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days:

  • Do NOT call Ottawa Public Health
  • Children under 6 months of age meeting this criteria should be taken to CHEO
  • Visit the COVID-19 Assessment Centre – you do NOT need a referral from Ottawa Public Health OR
  • Call your health care provider (if available)
  • If the COVID-19 Assessment Centre and your health care provider are both closed, go to the hospital emergency department and pay attention to special signage

If you have SEVERE SYMPTOMS (you have frequent shortness of breath and cannot manage your symptoms at home)

  • If this is a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 immediately
  • Go to the hospital emergency department and pay attention to special signage.

What is the current situation in Ottawa?

Stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 developments by following Ottawa Public Health on Twitter and Facebook.

Ontario is now providing a more detailed summary of COVID-19 cases in the province that will be updated each day at 10:30 a.m. and posted on its COVID-19 web page.

Declaration of emergency

The City of Ottawa has enacted a declaration of emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public. 

 

Read the special statements from officials

Read the latest statements
April 01, 2020 - Special statement from Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

I want to thank everyone for joining us today as we update you on the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa.

I’d like to start by announcing today that we will be hosting a virtual town hall on the topic of COVID-19 in Ottawa.

This virtual town hall will take place on Thursday, April 9 at 2 pm.

This will be an opportunity for residents with to call-in and ask questions about COVID-19 to myself and other City leaders.

Like we did with the last City Council meeting, residents can also watch the virtual town hall on Rogers Television.

I encourage you to watch for details on the City’s social media channels, as well as in an ad in this weekend’s Ottawa Citizen and Le Droit.

As many of you aware, one of our OC Transpo operators has tested positive for COVID-19.

This individual has been in self isolation since developing symptoms on March 20, and remains in self isolation at home after receiving the positive test result on March 21.

I want to assure you all that OC Transpo has put several measures in place to protect both customers and bus operators.

OC Transpo is working with Ottawa Public Health to trace and contact individuals who have, or may have been, in close contact with this operator, this would include staff, friends and family.

OC Transpo has identified and removed the vehicles that were driven by the operator from service.

These vehicles will undergo a deep clean and full sanitation before entering back into service.

OC Transpo customers who have concerns about this exposure can call OPH at

613-580-6744 to speak to a public health nurse, or they can visit Ottawa-public-health-dot-c-a.

Our best wishes are with the operator as they recover from this virus.

As you know, many residents and businesses are being financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – either through layoffs, closures or reduced business.

We have developed some property tax relief for those residents and businesses with a 2020 Property Tax Hardship Plan, which was approved by City Council last week.

If you are approved, the payment for both the interim and final property taxes will be due on October 30.

I want to remind you that in order to qualify for approval, you must complete an online application that is available on ottawa.ca/taxrelief.

It’s important to go online now and complete the application, as the grace period for all property owners to pay the interim property tax bill ends on April 15.

I want to also remind impacted landlords that many of your tenants are in the same financial boat as you are.

Property owners with tenants who do not pass on the deferral are deemed ineligible for the hardship deferral program and all taxes, penalty and interest are payable immediately.

We will all get through this better if we continue to work together as a community.

I also want to remind residents that is it critical that we listen to our medical experts here at OPH, as well as our federal and provincial experts, and practice physical distancing.

If we want to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community, this is of utmost importance.

I have heard some concerning reports of larger groups of residents gathering together – in both public and private settings.

For example, Bylaw and Regulatory Services had to respond to a child’s birthday party held in a backyard, which had between 12 and 20 children present.

Bylaw officer had to visit Lansdowne Park on a complaint that more than 20 people were playing on the play structures and in the skate park.

Bylaw also received complaints about a yard sale in the Greenboro area.

It’s unfortunate, but we just can’t have these types of gatherings.

I know we want to continue some sort of normalcy in our lives.

We want to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and special occasions.

We want to spend time with our family and our friends.

But, please, limit your gatherings to the members of your immediate family who live in your residence.

I want to take this opportunity to thank our City Bylaw officers who have been busy responding to calls reporting large social gatherings.

Bylaw and Regulatory Services received 139 calls for Provincial Orders and closed parks – and this was just yesterday.

So, please, stay home and respect the physical distancing guidelines.

This is our collective responsibility.

We need everyone to work together to help protect all our residents.

Speaking of lending a helping hand, I also want to remind residents that the City has launched a formal donation process for businesses and residents to donate commercial-grade personal protective equipment to protect our emergency responders and front-line workers who are supporting the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The PPE supplies must be commercial-grade and in their original packaging.

I want to thank all the residents and businesses who have generously come forward to donate through this formal process.

For those still interested in donating, you are asked to email donations@ottawa.ca, and provide information on the items and quantities. 

Again, I want to thank all our residents for their generosity and for their collaboration as we continue to fight COVID-19.

April 01, 2020 - Special statement by Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of Ottawa’s Board of Health

Responding to this crisis must be a joint effort . OPH and the City can message all kinds of useful information but if the general public does not follow the directions given then we have a problem and that problem is not going to go away.

An excellent and telling example of that is the growing number of incidents of people gathering in public places like parks. Most people are following the rules and those efforts are greatly appreciated but many are not .

I tweeted out a photo on this issue yesterday and it has been looked at by more than 1600 people. It has been liked and shared . There were no negative online comments and yet all through the day I received email concerns about people gathering in a variety of different parks and using play structures. Bylaw has been alerted and they will do what they can.

However one has to ask if this is really the best use of City resources at this point in time . People have suggested to me that we  put fences up in the parks or remove swings and slides . Again the question is whether this is really the best use of City resources . In both cases the answer is a resounding no.

We all know or should know and the City and OPH will continue to pump out the message that we should not be gathering in the parks or other public spots. The Provincial and Federal governments continue  send the same message and we thank them for that. Do the right thing, not necessarily the easy thing with kids to entertain and the weather warming up, but the right thing and stay out of the parks.

Secondly, and just as importantly please recognize that this fight is not over and will not likely be over any  time soon. The restrictions will continue for the foreseeable future whether it be school closures or the rules relating to how  businesses can currently operate . We must accordingly continue in a response mode to this crisis. I fully believe we can be successful in our efforts if we work as a collective and respect the greater communal goals.

We must stay the course by staying apart. Thank you.

April 01, 2020 - Special joint statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health and Dr. Brent Moloughney, Associate Medical Officer of Health

As we start a new month, we recognize that our new norms of physical distancing, school closures, and changes to employment settings and situations will remain in place this month.  Please be sure to check out the resources available from Ottawa Public Health, provincial and federal government, and other partners to support you during this time.  There are many resources to: support your physical and mental health; supplement finances; provide childcare for essential workers; help student learn at home; and much more. 

Despite the situation continually changing each day, a few things continue to remain the same. Our goal remains the same – we want to flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.  And at this time, our guidance remains the same: stay home and only go out for the essentials.  If you have returned from travel or have respiratory symptoms, you must self-isolate. 

We want to reiterate a statement from Dr. Theresa Tam yesterday, that COVID-19 does not discriminate.  All residents are susceptible to COVID-19.  Young people are getting it and are being hospitalized in Ottawa.  People of all ages need to stay home, limit contact to those people in your own household as much as possible, and only go out for essential work or supplies. 

OPH makes taking care of our employees a top priority, so we can take care of the public. We have a policy for “forced rest” for people to take breaks on a regular basis.   This will ensure sustainability of response during this pandemic. 

Number of cases

As of 4 pm yesterday, OPH is investigating 194 confirmed cases in Ottawa and five outbreaks – in three retirement homes and one long-term care home that we shared yesterday, plus a new outbreak with 1 confirmed case at a group home - Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities. That’s 50 new cases since our last report.  This increase in cases is in large part due to the processing of the “backlog” of tests with the majority of specimens taken on or before March 19. The epidemic curve on our website provides the picture of the increase over time.

The number of people hospitalized and in intensive care also changes daily. There are currently 25 people in hospital – 5 more than yesterday, 7 of them are in ICU, which is 1 more than yesterday.  Looking at the overall data for the outbreak, seniors aged 65 years and older were the most frequent age group ever hospitalized (49%) or ever in the ICU (67%).  So this means, the majority of hospitalizations (51%) and 33% of ICU admissions are people under 65 years of age.  

Case and contact management

On the topic of case and contact management, we continue to receive guidance from the provincial Ministry of Health.  Currently OPH case managers are in touch with all positive cases and close contacts and provide education on self-isolation requirements. 

Based on the latest guidance, we are strengthening case and contact measures to ensure that individuals with COVID-19 and their close contacts remain on strict self-isolation. These efforts will help us flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community in addition to the social distancing measures currently being encouraged.

April 01, 2020 - Special statement from Dr. Andrew Willmore, Medical Director, Emergency Management, The Ottawa Hospital

I want to reiterate to the public that Emergency Departments in the city are still here to care for you. Please continue to go to the nearest emergency department for any medical emergency. We are ready and able to help anyone in need. 

If you’re waiting at home for your results after being tested for COVID-19 and begin to experience shortness of breath or chest pain, please go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911. Otherwise, please continue to self-isolate while you await your results.  

I want to take a moment to thank all of the people and organizations who have donated personal protective equipment to health-care organizations throughout the region. Just to name a few: Hydro Ottawa and Tomlinson Group made significant donations over the last couple of days.  We would like to thank our researchers at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute for their continued efforts in raising PPE for the region.  The University of Ottawa has also gathered substantial donations in PPE both from researchers and students across faculties, as well as from the community.  

If you would like to donate PPE, please send an email to COVIDDonations@toh.ca – which is where the community can send their offers. Gowns, masks, gloves, face shields, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer are all welcome. It is important to note that this is a regional supply and donations will be distributed to health-care organizations throughout the Champlain Region.  

Read the previous statements
March 31, 2020 - Special statement from Dr. Andrew Willmore, Medical Director, Emergency Management, The Ottawa Hospital

The Clinical Care Coordination Committee – C4- continues to plan and activate the regional response to COVID-19 with our partners in Eastern Ontario.

I can update you on some of the C4 planning that is now being rolled out, in partnership with the Almonte General Hospital and Winchester District memorial hospitals.

The Almonte Assessment Centre opens today. It is by referral by the family physician and an appointment is required. In addition, the Winchester Assessment Centre opens tomorrow.

A reminder that the Hawkesbury Assessment Centre is also up and running through a partnership with The Eastern Ontario Health Unit and the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital.

The Ottawa Assessment Centre at Brewer Arena continues to serve its purpose of relieving some of the pressure off local Emergency Departments, so that they can provide care to those who are acutely ill. So far, 5,500 people have been assessed at the Centre – and about 85% have been swabbed.

I can tell you that there are ongoing efforts to increase the PROVINCIAL lab testing capacity. As of Sunday, the provincial lab increased its capacity by over 150% to approximately 4,800 tests per day.

This has reduced the PROVINCIAL backlog by one THIRD since March 25. This is good news for those patients in our region, who are awaiting their results from the centralized lab.

In the meantime, the REGIONAL lab has about a 48-hour turnaround time, so we are getting closer to the type of patient experience we want for the residents of Eastern Ontario.

If you’re waiting at home for your results after being tested for COVID-19, and begin to experience shortness of breath or chest pain, please go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911.

 

Please continue to go to the nearest emergency department for any non-COVID related medical emergencies. We are ready and able to help anyone in need.

Donations of PPE continue to come in throughout the region. In response to the donation offers, we created COVIDDonations@toh.ca,which is where the community can send their offers. Gowns, masks, gloves, face shields, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer are all welcome. It is important to note that this is a regional supply. 

March 31, 2020 - Special joint statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health and Dr. Brent Moloughney, Associate Medical Officer of Health

The situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve quickly, and our team has been working around the clock to review new directives and guidelines coming from upper levels of government, assess the local situation and provide our community with the best possible advice.

 

As we mentioned yesterday, we are changing how we report case data on our website. Going forward, our website will have more information on case data and will align with provincial reporting. Please watch for this in the coming days.

 

Given the rapid changes, we continue to encourage residents to visit our website at OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus for the latest information.

 

This morning, we were informed that the Ministry of Education has decided that Ontario schools will remain closed until at least May. We recognize that this situation is difficult for families. It’s difficult for children who want to be in school, learning, and interacting with their friends, teachers, and other school supports. It’s also difficult for parents as many continue to work either from home or in the community at essential businesses or services. However, continued physical (social) distancing is crucial to flattening the curve.

 

Number of cases

As of 4 pm yesterday, OPH is investigating 144 confirmed cases in Ottawa. That’s 14 new reported cases since we reported to you yesterday.

 

Sadly, we have also had our third COVID-related death in Ottawa.

 

The number of people hospitalized and in intensive care also changes daily. There are currently 20 people in hospital – three more than yesterday, six of them are in ICU, which is one less than yesterday. We also now have one additional resolved case for a total of 11.

 

Long-term care and retirement homes

As a result of new direction from the Ministry of Health with respect to long-term care and retirement homes, the COVID-19 outbreak definition has changed whereby we are to now consider a single laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19, in a resident or staff member, as a confirmed respiratory outbreak in the home. As a result, additional homes have now moved out of “outbreak watch” to status as having a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. This does not change OPH’s response, since outbreak precautions were already put in place, however, it does change reporting of the number of confirmed outbreaks in these institutions.

 

As such, OPH now has four confirmed outbreaks - three in retirement homes and one in a long-term care home.

 

In addition to Orleans Promenade and Maplewood, which were previously reported, we have now added Park Place and Garden Terrace as facilities with confirmed outbreaks. The confirmed facilities are as follows:

 

Orleans Promenade– three residents, including two deaths

Maplewood Retirement Community – one resident and one health care worker

Park Place – one health care worker

Garden Terrace – one health care worker

 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and every resident must continue doing their part to keep themselves, their family members, their neighbours, co-workers and community members healthy and safe, and reduce the spread of this virus.

 

Thank you again for your ongoing patience and cooperation in keeping residents informed. Please continue to visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus for the latest information.

March 30, 2020 - Special statement from Mayor Jim Watson

2nd Death in Ottawa 

Before I begin, I would like to offer my most sincere condolences to the family of the resident who has passed away this past weekend.

As Dr. Etches mentioned, this is the second death related to COVID-19, it serves as a sad and important reminder that we all need to do our part in making efforts to flatten the curve.

This means washing your hands regularly, respecting physical (social) distancing guidelines, limiting trips outside the house to essential ones only, and to check in virtually on family, friends and neighbours.

New Enforcement Measures 

We need to keep residents safe and do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

That is why Ottawa By-law Officers have been given the ability to enforce new rules under the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act related to physical distancing.

This means that, effective immediately, a dedicated team of officers at By-law and Regulatory Services will be proactively monitoring and enforcing calls related to:

  • Gatherings of more than 5 people in public or private residences;
  • People congregating in parks/using park facilities or equipment;
  • Restaurants that continue to offer dine-in services; and,
  • Non-essential retail businesses continuing to operate.

Residents who witness these issues should report them by calling 3-1-1.

By-law Officers will be taking a progressive enforcement approach; with the initial goal to educate residents and businesses about these laws and their importance to public health.

As time goes on, failure to comply could result in fines under the provincial Act of up to $100,000 for individuals, $500,000 for a director of a corporation or $10-million for a corporation itself.

By-law and Regulatory Services continues to collaborate with the Ottawa Police Service, which will continue to enforce calls related to Quarantine Orders issued to individuals who have been travelling or are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19.

Complaints related to the Quarantine Act should be reported to the non-urgent Ottawa Police phone line at 613-236-1222.

2020 Spring Freshet 

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now facing the 2020 Spring Freshet.

Many of Ottawa residents awoke today with renewed concerns for potential flooding given the heavy weekend rains.

Staff has advised me that water levels are not currently at threatening levels.

Later today, I will be issuing a memo to Council saying that I have asked Councillor Eli El-Chantiry to play a leadership role as Council Liaison on the 2020 Spring Freshet.

Councillor El-Chantiry has been front and centre in helping our local communities rebuild after the devastating floods that hit our City in 2017 and 2019.

Some of you may recall that Councillor El-Chantiry was helping his friends and neighbours sandbag their properties while his family was losing a property to the flooding.

Councillor El-Chantiry will work closely with members of Councillor whose wards have been most severely impacted in the past, including Councillor Theresa Kavanagh (Bay) and Councillor George Darouze (Osgoode) - who is temporarily managing Cumberland Ward issues for Cumberland Village and other parts of the ward.

I want to thank Councillor El-Chantiry for liaising with the City’s senior leadership team, my office, members of Council and key community agencies over the course of the coming days and until such time as the 2020 spring flood threat is behind us.

This is an exceptionally challenging time for our City and our residents, and I want to thank Councillor El-Chantiry and all members of Council for working together as we focus on mobilizing the spirit and resources our communities need to overcome these challenges.

 March 30, 2020 - Special statement from Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of Ottawa’s Board of Health
Good afternoon

I appreciate the opportunity to address the public during these very trying times and I thank the media for assisting OPH in getting important messages delivered .

I want to take this opportunity to recognize all the hard work that OPH staff and all healthcare providers are putting in as our first line of Defense against COVID-19.

The challenge is a significant one but there are simple things we can all do to assist in the fight.

First and foremost stay informed so you can stay on top of your personal health situation. The best way to do this is to check the OPH website regularly. 

Secondly, practice physical distancing. This means no unnecessary trips out of the home and no public gatherings.

Thirdly, during these difficult times treat your friends and neighbours with kindness and compassion. Reach out virtually to check up on one another . Look after one another .

Let’s stick together by staying apart.

Thank you.

March 30, 2020 - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health

As of this morning, there are 130 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa. That’s eight new reported cases since yesterday. You may have noticed that the Ministry of Health has changed the way it is reporting case data. We also understand that going forward, the Ministry of Health is going to provide more information on cases across Ontario at 10:30 daily, based on results available as of 4 pm the day before. As the number of cases grows, the Ottawa Public Health (OPH) team is adjusting how we collect and track data and we are also working to update our reporting strategy to align with Ministry reporting.

We now have outbreaks in two retirement homes in Ottawa. There are currently five confirmed cases at Orleans Promenade and counts pending for another outbreak at Maplewood Retirement Community.

Sadly, we have also had our second COVID-related death in Ottawa. The second death is a resident from Orleans Promenade. 

OPH continues to investigate and support both homes with their outbreak management measures. We are connecting with close contacts, as we do in all cases.  

The number of people hospitalized has increased. There are now 21 people in hospital, six of them are in ICU. 

Fortunately, we can now report 10 resolved cases.  

Yesterday the provincial government announced new restrictions on group gatherings which are now limited to a maximum of five people, with exceptions for: 

  • private households of five people or more 
  • childcare centres supporting frontline healthcare workers and first responders
  • funerals, which are permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time  

Earlier today, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, issued a statement calling on Ontarians to do more to combat the spread of COVID-19, noting that opting out is NOT an option. 

He strongly recommended that all residents stay home except for essential reasons, such as to: 

  • Access health care services
  • Shop for groceries 
  • Pick-up medication at the pharmacy
  • Walk pets when required
  • Support vulnerable community members with meeting the above needs

Given the greater risk of severe outcomes to Ontarians who are elderly, he also strongly recommended that individuals over 70 years of age self-isolate.  

This also applies to individuals who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions. 

We recognize that physical (social) distancing and self-isolation is hard. People may be feeling disconnected and experience difficulties in managing stress or anxiety. We also know that for some, home is not a safe place. We were pleased to see yesterday’s announcements by the federal government for funding for Kids Help Phone and New Horizons for Seniors through United Way. If you are struggling, please reach out. Our website has a list of mental health resources available in our community. The Ottawa Distress Centre is also available for people needing more support. 

I also want to reinforce that anyone who is not experiencing signs of illness and who is not subject to self-isolation under the Quarantine Act should try to get outside for fresh air and exercise in order to maintain their health during these difficult times. When doing so, please remember to practice physical (social) distancing. That means staying about two meters away from anyone you encounter during your walk.  Passing someone on a sidewalk is not considered a high-risk activity for infection with COVID-19. 

Thank you again for your ongoing patience and cooperation in keeping residents informed. Please continue to visit: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus       

 March 30, 2020 - Special statement from Dr. Andrew Willmore, Medical Director, Emergency Management, The Ottawa Hospital
 The COVID-19 assessment centre at Brewer Arena continues to take pressure off Emergency Departments in the City. To date over 5,000 patients have been assessed at the Centre who would, otherwise, have gone to an emergency department. Of those who have been assessed, 87% were swabbed.

If you’re waiting at home for your results after being tested for COVID-19 and begin to experience shortness of breath or chest pain, please go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911. 

And please continue to go to the nearest emergency department for any non-COVID related medical emergencies. We are ready and able to help anyone in need.

Nos services d’urgence sont prêts à vous accueillir s’il vous faut des soins urgents. La mise en place du Centre d’évaluation pour la COVID-19 a permis de soulager la pression sur les Urgences. Alors si vous avez besoin de soins médicaux urgents, n’hésitez pas à aller à la salle d’Urgence la plus proche. 

Si vous attendez vos résultats de dépistage de la COVID-19 et que vos symptômes s’aggravent (p. ex. essoufflement, douleur à la poitrine), allez à l’Urgence la plus proche ou appelez le 911.

We are aware that there is a backlog in processing tests in Ontario. All swab analysis was sent to a centralized lab for processing prior to March 23. A dedicated team is working to get those results back from the central lab for residents of Eastern Ontario. 

Last week, The Eastern Ontario Regional Lab Association (EORLA), began COVID-19 testing locally and has made significant progress to increase our regional test capacity. I want to thank everyone still waiting, for their patience. In the meantime, please do not seek retesting or call the centralized Public Health Lab in Toronto for results, as they are unable to release results to individuals. Patients who were seen at the Assessment Centre at Brewer arena, will be contacted by telephone by clinical staff from The Ottawa Hospital or CHEO.

Our community has stepped forward, like many others across the province.  We are receiving donations of supplies from people in health care, education, technology and the construction industry.  We are grateful for the community support. In response to the donation offers, we created COVIDDonations@toh.ca – which is where the community can send their offers. Gowns, masks, gloves, face shields, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer are all welcome. It is important to note that this is a regional supply.

I can also provide an update on the care clinics in the community. These care clinics will be ready to open quickly when needed to support our health-care system. This is a collaboration between Queensway Carleton Hospital and Hopital Montfort, supported by our regional partners.

These care clinics are specifically designed to absorb an increased volume of patients with febrile respiratory illness, offloading local emergency departments and family doctors' offices. They will be able to provide diagnostics as well as care, and we hope to deflect these patients from emergency departments while at the same time providing a high standard of care.

Finally, at the request from the province, and along with other Ontario hospitals, we are now reporting our PPE inventory to the province.  

 March 29, 2020 - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health

It’s a challenging and even frustrating time for everyone – parents, children, teenagers, seniors, employers and employees and essential services workers. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and every citizen must continue doing their part to keep themselves, their family members, their neighbours, co-workers and community members healthy and safe, and reduce the spread of this virus.

As of this morning, there are 122 confirmed cases in Ottawa and a second outbreak at a retirement home in Ottawa, at Maplewood Retirement Community. OPH continues to investigate the outbreak. The retirement home has implemented outbreak management and OPH is connecting with close contacts, as we do in all cases. All residents have been notified and are in self-isolation. Staff at the retirement home continue to be screened and have been instructed to wear personal protective equipment in the building, specifically wearing a mask when entering the building and following droplet/contact procedures in all resident rooms.

With more cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ottawa, including confirmation of community spread, we continue to urge everyone to practice physical (social) distancing or self-isolate if you develop symptoms.  Some key things to remember:

For individuals with respiratory symptoms (such as fever, cough), please follow these directives:

  • You must self-isolate for 14 days from when your symptoms started, or until 24 hours after symptoms have FULLY resolved, whichever is longer.
  • You must not leave your home if you have respiratory symptoms. Call your doctor or TeleHealth at 1-866-797-0000 if you have questions.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, please visit your nearest emergency department. 
  • If you think you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, a self assessment tool is available to help determine how to seek further care.

For individuals who are returning from travel, by federal law, you must immediately self-isolate for 14 days.  

  • The federal Minister of Health announced an Emergency Order requiring any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. By federal law, if you have just returned to Canada from abroad, leaving your property, even to go for a walk or to the grocery store, is not permitted under the Quarantine Order issued March 25, 2020. This also means not stopping at the grocery store or the pharmacy on the way home from the airport or the border.
  • If you need groceries or other essential items, have a family member, friend or neighbour do the shopping for you and leave items at the door.
  • If you have respiratory symptoms, follow the guidance in the section above.

For ALL Ottawa residents (except those listed above)

  • Practice physical (social) distancing – avoid all non-essential trips in the community.
  • Household contacts (people you live with) do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick, or have returned from travel within the past 14 days.
  • Cancel ALL group gatherings, including group/team play on sports fields.
  • Connect via phone, video chat, or social media instead of in-person.
  • Talk to your employer about working from home (if possible).
  • Avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives unless the visit is essential.
  • Keep windows down for essential community trips via taxi or rideshares.

And some special reminders for parents with children, as well as all of us as we practice physical (social) distancing:  

You can go outside.  It’s healthy. You can still take a walk, play with your dog outside, or kick a ball with members of your household who are already close contacts.

When outside, maintain a two-metre distance. Avoid crowds and maintain a distance of two metres (six feet) from those around you. Make an effort to step-aside, or pass others quickly and courteously on sidewalks.  Passing someone on the sidewalk is not considered close contact or a significant risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Remember to check in with others by phone or other technology. Support your neighbours if you can. Check in with yourself too. It’s ok not to be ok, and I encourage you to reach out to the Distress Centre of Ottawa to connect with someone at 613-238-3311 if you need help or are having trouble coping.

Each of our efforts are needed as a community. The actions you take will affect not only you, but your loved ones and the most vulnerable people in our community. By acting now, you may be saving lives – the life of a family member, a neighbour, a friend, or a coworker.

This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone, but we can do it. I’d like to thank you for your cooperation with physical (social) distancing from others and thank people who are helping each other. Supporting our neighbours is essential for us to make it through this pandemic. Please go to OttawaPublicHealth.ca and follow and share our updates on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Sincerely,

Dr. Vera Etches

For more information on testing and care for COVID-19, and how to practice physical (social) distancing, visit our website: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus. Information on financial and social supports is available on Ottawa.ca

March 27, 2020 - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health

Since Ottawa Public Health confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in Ottawa on March 11, our day-to-day lives have changed drastically. We know that staying home and practicing physical (social) distancing and being in self-isolation is not easy and we thank you for all you are doing to help flatten the curve.

It is important to remember that this is a global issue and the response around the world has been immense to influence the impact of COVID-19. There are now more than 86,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 being reported in the United States; this number is greater than the total number of cases in China and Italy. Confirmed cases are just the tip of the iceberg of the actual infections out there.

Around this time of year, many travellers are returning from travel around the world, including many snowbirds returning to Canada from the US. Returning travelers from all destinations outside of Canada MUST self-isolate and self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. Do not go shopping for groceries or supplies; these must be picked up by a family member or friend or through online ordering options.  

Please visit our self-isolation page for more instructions on how to self-isolate, including for specific scenarios.

As of this morning, there are 75 confirmed cases in Ottawa. Included in these numbers is the first confirmed case in a retirement home in Ottawa. This case was confirmed at Promenade Seniors’ Suites & Retirement Residence in Orleans. The individual as well as their spouse, who is also a resident of the retirement home, have been hospitalized. The retirement home has implemented outbreak management and OPH is connecting with close contacts, as we do in all cases. All residents have been notified and are in self-solation. Staff at the home continue to be screened and have been instructed to wear personal protective equipment in the building, specifically wearing a mask when entering the building and following droplet/contact procedures in all resident rooms.

The number of people hospitalized and in intensive care has increased. There are 17 people in hospital (including the two from the retirement home), seven of which are in intensive care. Of the people in intensive care, most are in their 50s and 60s, with only one individual older than 70. This is important for the public to appreciate as it demonstrates that the illness does not discriminate age – anyone is susceptible. Furthermore, 16 per cent of all the cases to date have no travel and no known contact with a confirmed case, demonstrating clear community spread.

Ottawa Public Health continues to communicate and work closely with local hospitals, health care partners, businesses, the City and all levels of government to implement our community response to COVID-19. 

Thank you again for your ongoing patience and cooperation in keeping residents informed. Please continue to visit: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus

March 26, 2020 at 2:30pm - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health

The situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve quickly, with new developments and new announcements daily from all levels of government.

We continue to be grateful for media’s help in getting reliable, timely information out to our residents.  

As of this morning, OPH is investigating 51 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

We also shared the sad news late yesterday afternoon about Ottawa’s first COVID-19 related death.

The individual was a man in his 90s who was living at home. He developed a fever on March 15th. He was seen in the emergency department of The Ottawa Hospital and admitted on March 20 and died on March 25, 2020. As with other people diagnosed with COVID-19, OPH will not be discussing any further details in order to protect personal health information.

We continue to get questions about self-isolation. I want to reinforce that the information on our website provides clear guidelines.

Returning travelers MUST self-isolate and self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. DO NOT go shopping for groceries or supplies. Have those purchased for you by a friend, family or neighbour or use a delivery service.

If you are self-isolating and develop symptoms or if you are awaiting test results for COVID-19, you must stay home. Do not leave your home except to seek medical treatment for escalating symptoms.

If you are self-isolating and do not have symptoms, we want you to do everything you can to remain healthy and part of that involves, getting fresh air and exercise. Therefore, if you don’t have symptoms, it’s okay to go for a walk outside, but at all times, you must maintain a distance of at least 2 meters from anyone you may encounter on your walk.

I was happy to see this message reinforced by Health Minister Hajdu yesterday during a press conference and by Dr. Theresa Tam on Twitter last night. We want you to stay healthy and be able to go outside to get some fresh air, while practicing physical distancing.

Also, please remember to wash your hands thoroughly before and after any outdoor excursion or activity.

It’s important to remember that while those most at risk of severe complications from COVID-19 are older adults and those with underlying health conditions, I want to reiterate that COVID19 does not discriminate. We can expect serious illness across all age categories, and everyone has a role when it comes to physical/social distancing.

We know this situation is causing stress and anxiety in our community. I’m happy to share with you that OPH has added a new section on our coronavirus webpage to make it easier for residents to find mental health resources in our community.

We also recognize that the volume of new information can be overwhelming. Please note that the team at Ottawa Public Health is continuously updating our website and messaging to provide residents with the latest and most reliable information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones and maintain their health.

Thank you again for your ongoing patience and cooperation in keeping residents informed. Please continue to visit: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus 

March 24, 2020 at 2:15pm - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health

We know many residents are heeding the advice to stay at home and limit non-essential outings, and I am grateful that they are following public advice. I recognize that this is a difficult time for all of us, and the unpredictability can be stressful. Thank you to everyone in our community for their cooperation during this unprecedented response. The actions you are taking will affect not only you, but also your loved ones and our most vulnerable.

Firstly, I want to ensure that everyone heard the news that The Ontario Ministry of Health has a new enhanced self-assessment tool online.  If you think you have coronavirus symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this online self-assessment to help determine how to seek further care and receive recommendations to either continue physical (social) distancing or self-isolate.

Moving forward, you will also begin to hear the use of the term “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing.”  This language is beginning to be used around the world and is clearer about what we are recommending to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  We want residents to keep a physical distance of at least 2 metres from others, but not to disconnect socially.  It is very important during this time, that we maintain social connections to support our mental health; however, these social connections with people outside your household should be done through phone calls and other technology as much as possible.   

Regarding gathering more information on whether people are adhering to social distancing.  In the short term, we are using more traditional means: we are planning a population survey, through a phone survey that will be implemented in the next few days.  We are exploring all options to use technology to assist with the response, but have no plans to implement cell phone proximity tracking or social media mining. Exploring some of these options would need to be done in a transparent way to be sure that privacy is protected and there is evidence the tools work the way we’d want them to.

As of this morning, OPH is investigating 25 confirmed cases and 13 indeterminate cases.  We anticipate this number will continue to increase as more people are exposed to the virus in our community and are getting tested. 

Regarding testing, we are actively working with our laboratory and health care partners to improve their wait times to receiving results.  Currently we are hearing that the average wait time for results is 7 days. We are working with our healthcare partners to ramp up their efforts to process samples locally as part of a more sustainable model.   We appreciate your patience and request that you not call Ottawa Public Health for test results. If you are tested at the Assessment Centre, please follow their guidance on how to receive your results through their on-line mechanisms.

For those individuals that have received testing and need clarity while they are waiting for results, the guidance is consistent with what we are recommending for self-isolation.  For example:

  • If you got tested because you had symptoms, regardless of travel history, you need to stay in isolation for 14 days or until 24 hours after your symptoms clear up (whichever is longer); or
  • If your symptoms escalate beyond what you can manage at home, go to the emergency department - regardless of if you have been tested. Testing is not treatment. We want to ensure people that need care, get care. 

Thank you for continuing to share this information and please visit our website regularly for the latest updates: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus.  

 March 23, 2020 at 2:30pm - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health 

It has been another busy start to our week as the information, and measures at all levels of government in response to this pandemic, are changing rapidly. We are working around the clock to provide information to the public as soon as possible. 

As of this morning, OPH is investigating 22 confirmed cases and 11 indeterminate cases. I know there is always a lot of interest in how many confirmed cases are in our community, but we know that these cases are really only one small part of the COVID-19 response.  As I mentioned yesterday, we now have laboratory confirmation of community spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ottawa and that there could be up to 4,000 cases in Ottawa. I want to take the time to help people understand how we determine these estimates.

Researchers at the University of Toronto developed a model that describes COVID-19 transmission based on a model that was used in 2009 for H1N1 pandemic planning in Canada. This model tries to take into account that:

  • In addition to diagnosed cases, there are/will be cases that go undetected because they have no symptoms, or only mild symptoms;
  • Symptomatic and asymptomatic cases contribute to spread; and
  • Coronavirus infection spreads at different rates depending on several factors (i.e. age, number of contacts, asymptomatic vs. symptomatic, etc.).

The model is used as a planning tool, to help predict healthcare resources needed, and potential positive impacts of strategies, such as physical (social) distancing and school closures. It helps us make comparisons between types of interventions versus no interventions. It is approximate, and daily numbers will fluctuate. For example, the model shouldn’t be used to say we will have X number of cases on March 23 or June 10; it should be used to see how interventions may impact estimated number of cases over time.

The model estimates, based on having 27 diagnosed cases on Sunday, that there are between 200 and 4,000 total diagnosed and undiagnosed cases in Ottawa now. We released the number publicly to help raise awareness that COVID-19 is in our community, and to communicate that we all need to do our part to slow down transmission of infection by limiting our contact with others.  We just received an updated model, so we are still working to understand how to apply that to the current situation in Ottawa.

The model isn’t going to give us perfect numbers that I can provide into the future, because interventions are changing.  Instead, we are continuing to work on data sources that will give us a better picture of what is happening in our community.  For example, we are looking at emergency room visits for fever and cough, we are looking at ways to ask people to report to us if they have fever and cough in the community.  We also want more information on whether people are adhering to physical (social) distancing guidance in our community.  All of the additional information sources we are building will help build a better picture and more precise projections of where we are at on the “curve” of infections in our community.

We will continue to share more information about the number of estimated infections in the community as our surveillance systems evolve. We are working toward adding this information on our website so it is available to the public and the media, and importantly to our health system partners as this information helps them with health system planning over the next several months.  

Given this information about community spread, we all need to be vigilant to continue physical (social) distancing.  Now is not the time for non-essential excursions outside the home or for having friends and family over to visit. Overall, physical (social) distancing means to limit the total number of people you come in close contact with; ideally you are able to limit your contact to only people within your household. Limit contact with everyone outside your household unless you have essential work, or if you need important support from one other person. 

So this means, that you should only be connecting with friends and family virtually and to limit how often you go to the grocery store.  When you do go outside of your homes, to go for a walk or to get groceries, keep at least 2 metres distance apart from others.  Parks remain open, but we ask that you do not congregate in parks, on sports fields, courts and playgrounds – again all to limit your close contacts with anyone outside your household.  Essentially, physical (social) distancing and keeping two meters distance from others applies to all setting when other people are around.

The additional measures announced earlier today by the province of Ontario, that there will be a mandatory closure of all non-essential work places, will help limit these non-essential outings.  We will be working with our City colleagues to determine local implications, but please be reassured that we will have access to food, utilities and essential products.  In my statement yesterday, I encouraged that people should not visit non-essential businesses including but not limited to clothing retail stores, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlours, gym and fitness facilities, banquet halls and conference centres; we will share the list of businesses permitted to stay open once released tomorrow by the province. 

Many people are returning home from travel and will need groceries and essential items. It is imperative that all returning travellers self-isolate for 14 days.  If you are self-isolating it means that; groceries and essential items should be picked up by a family member or friend, or acquired through on-line ordering options.

We are working with the airport to ensure all travellers are aware of this information about self-isolation.  Having a COVID-19 test result or not does not change the actions that individuals in the community need to take now. If you have travelled or are ill with a respiratory illness, stay home – and for all of us, now is the time to limit our interactions with others outside of our household as much as possible. 

We continue to have many questions about what self-isolation actually means. Self-isolation means you need to stay home and avoid contact with others.

  • Do not use public transportation;
  • Do not go to work or school or the grocery store;
  • Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one; and
  • If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two meters from others and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

People who are self-isolating, and who do not have symptoms, can continue to go outside for a walk or to a local greenspace; however, I can’t say this enough - they should not gather with others and it is essential they keep 2 metres away from others.  It is important that individuals who are self-isolating have no contact with anyone other than household members. Guidance for residents who are self-isolating is available on our website, as well as information about cleaning your home, personal hygiene, laundry and waste disposal. 

Thank you for continuing to share this information and please visit our website regularly for the latest updates: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus

March 22, 2020 at 2:30pm - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health
Ottawa Public Health now has laboratory confirmation of community spread of  the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ottawa. Additionally, we are starting to see cases among health-care workers who have not traveled or been a close contact of a confirmed case . Based on modelling data, there could now be up to 4,000 undetected cases of COVID-19 in our community.

Because most cases are mild and undetected, Ottawa Public Health is urging everyone to practice social distancing. More information on social distancing for you and your family can be found on our website.

Our efforts are needed as a community. The actions you take will affect not only you but your loved ones and our most vulnerable. While we appreciate that people are thinking of their loved ones, now is not the time to visit them in person. Luckily, we have technology on our side which enables us to communicate in other creative ways like video chats and group phone calls.

Now is also not the time for non-essential excursions. We are working with the City of Ottawa to provide greater clarity on what we consider non-essential vs essential businesses here in Ottawa. People should not visit non-essential businesses including but not limited to clothing retail stores, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlours, gym and fitness facilities, banquet halls and conference centres.

Many people are returning home from March Break travel and will need groceries and essential items. It is imperative that all returning travellers self-isolate for 14 days, so groceries and essential items should be picked up by a family member or friend, or through on-line ordering options. Visit our website for further guidance on self-isolation. We have been working with the Ottawa International Airport to ensure this is being communicated clearly to returning travellers.

Social distancing is important for everyone at this time, but especially important for members of our older adult community and our most vulnerable. Here are some ways that you and your family can practise social distancing: 

  • Talk to your supervisor, manager, or employer about the possibility of working from home where possible 
  • Avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives. Use the telephone, video chats or social media to stay connected unless the visit is absolutely essential. 
  • Avoid all non-essential trips in the community 
  • Keep the windows down if you have to go into the community for an essential trip via taxi or rideshare 
  • Cancel group gatherings and limit your contact to as few people as possible Hold virtual meetings or get-togethers  
  • Spend time outside and in settings where people can maintain a two-metre (six feet) distance from each other 

Our community partners are working together through the City’s Human Needs Task Force for those requiring assistance. The Good Companions are offering Seniors Centre Without Walls, where seniors can dial in and partake in a virtual centre with activities. The Ottawa Food Bank and community food banks are all working hard to ensure food is still available to those that need it. For more information on how to connect to these wonderful services, residents can call 2-1-1.

Information is changing rapidly and we are working around the clock to provide information to the public as soon as possible. Please continue to share this information and visit our website regularly for the latest updates: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus

March 18, 2020 at 4:30pm - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health
Dear residents of the City of Ottawa,

The past week has seen a very quick escalation from all levels of government in response to the COVID-19 situation. I want to publicly respond to a few common questions and concerns to help provide clarity on our approach at the local level.

As a reminder, please visit our website OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus for local information about COVID-19, including assessment and testing in Ottawa, self-isolation and social distancing. Due to high call volumes please try to not call unless you have read the website first.

Testing and Assessment

The present goals of testing for COVID-19 are to detect the virus in our community and also limit the spread of the virus. Lab testing helps us estimate cases in the community. For each laboratory-confirmed case related to travel, there is a likelihood that at least an equal number of travel-related cases are undetected. Based on current confirmed cases, whose onset of illness is in the past, there could potentially be anywhere between 200 to 1000 undetected cases in the community now. We do not yet have laboratory-confirmed community spread, though we do see cases giving rise to cases in close contacts. 

With this information, I am communicating to all people in Ottawa that we need to act as if the virus is here, circulating in our community.

The testing isn’t able to track down each case in our community because the mild illness the majority of people experience is not distinguishable from common colds and we cannot test large numbers. Having a COVID-19 test result or not does not change the actions that individuals in the community need to take – if ill with a respiratory illness, stay home – and for all of us, now is the time to limit our interactions with others as much as possible.

The current COVID-19 testing provides a pulse check and helps us make decisions about our next steps to control the spread of COVID-19. It also helps limit spread COVID-19 by the highest risk cases. Self-isolation and social distancing are effective strategies for slowing the spread at the community level.

Check our website to learn more about when to self-isolate and when to go for testing: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus. You do not need a referral from Ottawa Public Health to get tested for COVID-19. At a high level:

If you are a return traveler (including travel to the United States of America) OR have MILD symptoms – you MUST self-isolate. Most people with MILD symptoms will recover at home with no issues. You are helping limit the spread of the virus by staying at home.

For now (this may change), our priority is to test people with escalating symptoms AND travel history within 14 days OR close contact with someone with COVID-19.

We are also prioritizing ruling out COVID-19 in workers, such as health-care workers or Long-Term Care Homes.

In the future, the goals of COVID-19 testing are likely to shift towards being used to limit outbreaks in settings of high risk. The focus of testing would turn to health care and essential workers, hospitalized patients, long-term care homes, correctional facilities and other situations where the result is helpful to direct public health actions.

Social Distancing

Social distancing refers to creating physical distance between ourselves so that we can limit the spread of the virus. Social distancing by all is IMPERATIVE to limit transmission in the community, to protect vulnerable populations and outbreaks in institutions. We must “flatten the curve” so we don’t see spikes in cases. By this, I mean that we want to slow down transmission of the virus and lessen the number of cases in the community that happen at the same time, so that our health system continues to work properly. Having a sharp increase of cases in a small timeframe will overload our healthcare resources and have more severe impacts on our community. Social distancing is important for everyone at this time, but especially important for our older adult community (55+). Do NOT gather in groups of 10 or more. Practice social distancing.

Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing. Check in with others by phone or other technology. Check in with yourself. It’s ok not to be ok. Please know that help is available, and we encourage you to reach out to Distress Centre of Ottawa to connect with someone at 613-238-3311 if needed.

Case Management and Privacy

We have received many questions from people who feel they are at risk, including many people expressing concern about being in the same location as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who may have symptoms of COVID-19.

I would like to clarify a few points:

  • Given the transmission of COVID-19, we are all at risk. Social distancing, proper hand hygiene, not touching your face and self-isolation (when directed) are the best ways to reduce your personal risk at this time.
  • A close contact of a case of COVID-19, is someone who has lived with, provided care for, or spent longer periods of time with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Case and contact management is a role of public health to help identify who may have been in close contact with a confirmed case. Ottawa Public Health will contact you directly if you have been identified as a close contact.
  • OPH works closely with each confirmed case of COVID-19 to create a list of close contacts that require follow-up. If you have been contacted by Ottawa Public Health, follow the advice provided to you by the nurse.
  • If you have not been contacted by Ottawa Public Health, please do not assume that you are a close contact. Continue to take social distancing and other precautions and, if needed based on the guidance on OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus, follow self-isolation or testing directions.

Regarding privacy, Ottawa Public Health will not comment about any specifics around an individual case of COVID-19. We encourage others to not pursue this information unless an individual issues their own statement to this effect. Ottawa Public Health will contact you directly if you are a close contact.

The reportable information that we are required to share with the Ministry of Health, and which is on their website:

  • Patient age and gender
  • Transmission (community, travel or close contact)
  • Status (self-isolating, hospitalized, etc.)
  • Fraud concerns

I have been made aware that certain residents have received a phone call asking for credit card information from Ottawa Public Health (OPH). OPH (or any health unit) will not ask you for credit card information. Do not give your credit card information out if you receive a call or message similar to this. Fraudulent activity during a situation like this is deplorable. I encourage you to report it to Ottawa Police Services. 

Gratitude

Thank you to all residents of the City of Ottawa for your ongoing patience and cooperation. We are all in this together, and we need everyone to do their part- whether providing an essential service or staying inside – to be able to slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in our community and protect our health system and loved ones who depend on it.

Dr. Vera Etches

Medical Officer of Health

Ottawa Public Health  

March 16, 2020 at 6:00pm - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health
On March 16, 2020, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Ministry of Health, has now advised cancelling events or gatherings over 50 people because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also advised the following establishments should close temporarily (until further notice):

  • Recreation programs
  • Libraries
  • Churches and other faith settings
  • In person dine-in restaurants and bars - NOTE: except for food establishments that offer take out and/or delivery services
  • All childcare centres, licensed home childcare and Early ON Child and Family centres

Other establishments also strongly recommended by Ottawa Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, include:

  • Nightclubs and after-hours bars
  • Movie Theatres
  • Concert and indoor live-entertainment venues
March 15, 2020 at 8:15pm - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health
 Following the first travel-related case detected in Ottawa last week, and with increased access to testing through the out-of-hospital COVID-19 Assessment Centre that opened on Friday, we now have 10 confirmed cases in our City. It is likely that there are more undetected travel-related cases that have gone on to cause local transmission of the virus in Ottawa. These cases are related to travel that occurred in the past when travel restrictions and the Federal Government’s advice for all international travelers to self-isolate for 14 days were not in place. Given the estimate that one case is likely to cause about two more, and the doubling time is 4-5 days, there could now be hundreds to even a thousand cases in the community now.

Therefore, I am asking all people in Ottawa to increase their practices of social distancing. This means limiting non-essential trips out of the home and making efforts to maintain a distance of 1 to 2 metres from other people as much as possible. We are asking people to, if possible, keep their children home from daycare and to check with their employers about options for working from home or implementing social distancing at work.

These guidelines are not meant to say “you must stay in your home!”

You can still go outside to take a walk, go to the park, or walk your dog. If you need groceries, go to the store. We simply recommend that while outside you make sure to avoid crowds and maintain a distance of 1 to 2 metres (3-6 feet) from those around you.

I know there will be many questions and significant hardship associated with implementation of these measures. They are necessary to limit COVID-19 transmission in our community.  We each need to do our part to ensure that our healthcare providers have the capacity to provide life saving measures for all, and to care for the most vulnerable people. Social distancing measures can make a huge difference to slow the rapid spread of illness.

While you may not feel sick, please be mindful of the members of our community who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. We are all in this together.

The Ottawa Public Health website has been updated with information about social distancing to provide further guidance to the public. Information is changing rapidly and we are working to provide this information to the public as soon as possible. Please continue to share this information. We will share what is happening in our community on our website.

 

April 1, 2020 – Special statement by Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of Ottawa’s Board of Health

April 1, 2020: Special statement from Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

What is the situation in Ontario?

For more information, please visit the Province of Ontario’s response web page.

Declaration of emergency

The Province of Ontario has enacted a declaration of emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public. The Province of Ontario has also closed at-risk workplaces and created a list of essential workplaces.

What is the situation in Canada?

For more information on the federal response, please visit this Government of Canada webpage.

Travel advisories

An official global travel advisory is in effect: Avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. In addition, a pandemic COVID-19 travel health notice with travel health advice for Canadians has also been issued.

In order to decrease transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health is now recommending that all residents of Ottawa practice physical distancing. The above Youtube video explains what is physical distancing. 

Read video script

With more cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ottawa, we are asking that all people in Ottawa practice physical (social) distancing 

What is physical distancing?

  • Physical distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with.
  • Through physical distancing, we can flatten the curve. That means, decrease the number of people ill all at once, so that the healthcare system can keep up and continue to provide life-saving care.

How can you  practice physical distancing?

Here are a few examples:

  • Limit non-essential trips out of the home
  • work to maintain a distance of about 2 meters from other people, as much as possible. 
  • Work from home if you can
  • Avoid visits to long-term care homes, or retirement homes unless the visit is absolutely essential
  • Avoid non-essential trips in the community
  • Limit or cancel group gatherings, including play-dates for children
  • Older adults should avoid gathering in groups of 5 or more at this time

Why you need to maintain a distance of about 2 meters from others:

The human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets that come out when you cough or sneeze
  • close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

Our collective efforts are needed as a community. The actions you take will affect not only you, but your loved ones, and our most vulnerable. Stay home if you are able to.

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