15 Mar Update from Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa Public 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 meters 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 1-2 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.
Vera Etches MD, MHSc, CCFP, FRCPC
Medical Officer of Health / Médecin chef en santé publique
Ottawa Public Health / Santé publique Ottawa