Good evening Kanata North,
Another cold and sunny day today. In today’s update I am focusing on two important elements. First, I would like to share the important update provided by our Chief Medical Officer Doctor Vera Etches. Secondly, I’d like to provide you answers to some frequently asked questions that community members are asking to ensure that you have the correct information you need to stay healthy and make informed decisions for you, your family, and our community’s benefit.
Update from our Chief Medical Officer Doctor Vera Etches:
Ottawa Public Health now has laboratory confirmation of community spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ottawa. We have 27 laboratory confirmed cases (either confirmed or indeterminate) reported in Ottawa today. 5 have no known travel history, link to someone who traveled or close contact with a confirmed case. We are starting to see cases among healthcare workers. Based on modelling data, there could now be up to 4,000 cases of COVID-19 in our community. Because most cases are mild and undetected, I want to emphasize the importance of everyone treating all interactions with others as a potential source of transmission of COVID-19.
At this time, I am asking that ALL people ensure they are practicing social distancing. To clarify – as some people think it means continuing to visit with friends – social distancing means: Gatherings of 1 is the best, not 50, not 10.
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 – grandma and grandpa, friends and family – now is not the time to visit them in person. Find other creative ways through video chats or telephone calls to connect with your loved ones.
Now is also not the time for non-essential excursions. We are working with the city to provide greater clarity on what we consider non-essential vs essential businesses here in Ottawa. What I want to emphasize is that people should not visit non-essential businesses including, but not limited to, clothing and hair & nail salons, tattoo parlours, gyms and fitness facilities, car dealerships and repair facilities, banquet halls, and conference centres.
Many people are returning home from travelling during March Break and people may need to get groceries and essential items. Please self-isolate and ask family or friends to pick up your groceries for you. Not everyone may have received this message though we have provided airports with greater messaging. Detailed guidance about what self-isolation means is available online.
Social distancing is important for everyone at this time, but especially important for our older adult community (55+). 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 necessary.
- 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.
- Hold virtual meetings or get-togethers.
- Spend time outside and in settings where people can maintain a 2-metre (6 feet) distance from each other.
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 2 metres (6 feet) from those around you.
It is important for residents to continue to follow normal precautions to help stop the spread of germs:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just cleaned your hands.
- Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hand.
I would like to remind residents just how important it is that we continue to support each other in our community through this situation, and to seek out accurate updates. Please continue to visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus
Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: I have just returned from International Travel. I’ve been in Florida for the last little while and have no symptoms. What is Ottawa Public Health advising?
- Self-isolate and self-monitor for 14 days. If symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop, consult the latest guidance on OPH’s main COVID-19 page.
- If you need to return home from the airport via taxi or ride-share, be sure to keep the windows down.
- If you were out of country when the latest travel guidelines went into effect and need to get supplies for your household, please ask someone who is not in self-isolation to get your supplies for you or inquire about home-delivery options. If neither of those options are available, please go get supplies during off-peak hours and remain 1-2 metres (3-6 feet) away from others.
- You can still go outside to take a walk or walk your dog. OPH recommends that while outside you make sure to avoid crowds and maintain a distance of 1-2 metres (3-6 feet) from others.
- Stay home:
- Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.
- Do not go to work, school or other public places.
- Your health care provider or Ottawa Public Health will tell you when you no longer need to self-isolate.
- Avoid contact with others:
- 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.
- Make sure that any shared rooms have good airflow (e.g. open windows).
Additional details and guidance are available here. These guidelines are intended to keep everyone safe. It is critical that we all respect and follow this advice. If you are self-isolating and you need help with groceries or errands, your community is ready and willing to help. Please reach out here and myself and my team will ensure you get assistance.
Question: How can I assess my symptoms and know whether I should go get tested for COVID-19?
Answer: The Province of Ontario has created a self-assessment tool available here. If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this self-assessment to help determine how to seek further care.
Question: What does Social Distancing mean. How is this different from physical distancing?
Answer: It is important that during these difficult times we stayed connected socially. The term social distancing does not mean that you can’t interact with others. The guidance right now is to stay home as much as possible and when going outside always maintain 2 meters (or 6 feet) between others. I have seen some great examples of social interaction over the last week, ensuring that people get the interactions they need. There are some great tools available including Facetime, WebEx, and Zoom video calls which enable us to speak and see our colleagues, friends, and family. Now is a great time to try these!
Question: Why has Hydro Ottawa not adjusted the hydro rates to off peak hours? With everyone home, our hydro usage is higher than normal, and we can’t afford this impact.
Answer: I have received many messages from residents asking that hydro rates be adjusted to off peak rates. I spoke to the CEO of Hydro Ottawa last Monday, and he has been advocating with the Provincial Government for this to occur. This direction needs to come from the Province. I hope we will hear more on it this coming week.
Question: With more and more talk about lock downs in other countries and parts of Canada, what does this mean for Ottawa?
Answer: It’s important to know that our experts are continuously monitoring the situation and making decisions based on evidence and science and I have full confidence in their decisions. Ottawa Public Health and the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario have already been very clear on this. Do not go outside for non-essential trips, limit group gatherings to zero, and we should all be practicing self-isolation, and self-monitoring. Our community needs to step up and do its part, we should not need a legal mechanism to do the right thing and save lives.
Question: Will there be any restrictions placed on filling of prescriptions? I don’t believe there is a rule in Ontario, and I am concerned people are stocking up potentially resulting in a medication shortage.
Answer: Ottawa Public Health has advised that at this point in time, the Province has not taken any extra precautions to limit filling prescriptions. This subject came up in the Premier’s press conference recently. Minister Elliott noted, in response to a question on refill prescriptions, that they are looking at 30-day refills to make sure supply remains available to those who need it. However, please note an official announcement has not been communicated on this to-date.
Question: Will the city close city playgrounds? I am seeing people letting their children use them and am concerned about the spread of the virus.
Answer: The Medical Officer of Health is currently reviewing this. I expect more guidance will be provided soon. As a mom of three children, I urge you to practice physical distancing and stay off the play structures until further guidance is provided.
The House of Commons will meet on Tuesday and City Council will meet on Wednesday this week. This next week will be critical, with the return of travelers from March Break and snowbirds back in Canada. I will share updates each evening with a summary of what has transpired each day.
Further, on Tuesday evening at 7pm you can tune into a Virtual Kanata North Community Meeting, which I will be hosting on my Facebook page. I know many of you have questions and I encourage you to ask them in the comments section during the meeting. I may not have all the answers right away but will work to find them for you. For those that do not use Facebook, the video will also be posted on my website.
Lastly, I encourage everyone to be kind to themselves. Take a break from the news and social media. Spend time outdoors while safely maintaining a distance from others. As we all adjust to the current conditions, be mindful of your physical and mental health.
As always, your community is here for you. If you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Stay healthy, Kanata North!