Community Voice Column – October 7, 2020

September has been a concerning month with a growing number of COVID-19 infections in our community. Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, has stated that the continuous rise in individuals contracting COVID-19 is an indication that Ottawa is now in the second wave of the pandemic.

This is worrisome. As a parent, community member, and your city councillor, I am deeply concerned. The data is showing that the majority of our recent cases are coming from social gatherings. At the council meeting on September 9th, Dr. Vera Etches stated how easily transmission of the virus can happen with the following real-life example: Ten friends going to a cottage with one person infected with the virus. After a few days, other guests at the cottage return home and begin showing symptoms. In this case, 40 more individuals contracted the virus stemming from one person. Those that are infected risk transmitting it to other close contacts who may be particularly susceptible to the virus. This shows how one individual has the potential to quickly spread the virus to many people.

Keeping our social circles small is the best way to lower the risk of exposure.

In response to the growing numbers, the Ontario Government implemented new limitations on social gatherings. Gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 indoors and 25 individuals outdoors.  Further, Dr. Vera Etches invoked a Class Section 22 Order under the Health Protection and Promotion act that requires immediate self-isolation in any of the following circumstances:

  • Any person that tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Has signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Has been tested for COVID-19.
  • Is awaiting a test result.
  • Has reasonable grounds to believe they have COVID-19.

These individuals must remain in isolation for 14 days, unless COVID-19 is ruled out, and they must do everything they can to avoid exposing other people to COVID-19. Failure to comply with this Order could result in a fine of up to $5,000.

We’ve been through the first wave of the pandemic. We have shown that we are capable of controlling the spread of the virus. Following the advice provided by Ottawa Public Health is how we will help slow the spread of the infection. Wear a mask, wash your hands often, keep your social bubbles small, and maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from others. We all have an important role to play in keeping our city safe. We must work together to keep the virus under control.

Stay safe. Take care.