March 12, 2020 – Update from Dr. Vera Etches

March 12, 2020 – Update from Dr. Vera Etches

Dear Mayor Watson and Members of Council,

The quickly changing situation related to COVID019 is causing anxiety in the population and your efforts to promote credible messages from Ottawa Public Health and the precautions people can take are appreciated.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has become aware of a second confirmed case of COVID-19 in Ottawa, which is unrelated to the first case confirmed on March 11.

This second confirmed case is a woman in her 40s with recent travel history to Italy. The individual is currently in self-isolation at home with mild symptoms. She has had no close contacts since returning from Italy.

OPH continues to work closely with local hospitals, health care partners, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario and national partners to monitor and detect any cases of COVID-19 in the community.

Future updates on positive cases in Ottawa will be posted on our website here after the Ministry of Health posts their notices of new cases each day.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has also been made aware of a blog post circulating and causing heightened concerns about Coronavirus.

I would like to remind you, and through you your residents, that OPH is continually monitoring and assessing the situation in Ottawa and that we continue to follow the lead of the Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario and the Public Health Agency of Canada in responding to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), with a focus on keeping the people of Ottawa well.

The public health sector is very aware of the strain that the pandemic will place on communities and the healthcare sector and we are actively considering the appropriate time to implement stronger measures related to self-distancing, among other approaches.

OPH will continue to conduct the necessary follow-up with any potential close contacts of cases identified in Ottawa with the goal of breaking transmission in our community.

We continue to encourage residents to take the necessary steps to protect themselves by:

  • Washing their hands often with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available;
  • Avoiding hand-to-face contact – particularly their eyes, nose, and mouth – unless they have just washed their hands;
  • Covering their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their arm, not their hands;
  • Staying home if they are ill; and
  • Maintaining a distance of about 2 meters or more if they encounter someone who is ill or who appears to be ill.

We also continue to encourage residents and community leaders to visit and refer people to to ensure they are accessing factual, reliable and up-to-date information.

Other credible sources of information include:

I can assure you that all levels of public health agencies in Canada are monitoring the situation closely, working collaboratively, and regularly updating guidelines and protocols based on the currently available scientific evidence and expert opinion – including travel advisories, screening protocols, and guidelines for self-isolation and/or quarantine. We are also actively working with local partners to ensure Ottawa is ready to respond in the event of an increase in the number of confirmed cases in our community.

It is important to understand that the situation is Ottawa may be different from the situation in other parts of the world or even in different parts of North America. For this reason, we respectfully request that Members of Council refrain from sharing information from sources that may not be reliable or reflective of our reality and that you encourage residents to do the same.

Please feel free to call or email if you have any questions or concerns or if you wish to discuss.


Dr. Vera Etches