Community spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa likely, says OPH

Community transmission of the COVID-19 respiratory illness is likely taking place in Ottawa, according to the city's chief medical officer of health.

That pronouncement from Dr. Vera Etches comes as the province's Ministry of Health reported five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa Sunday morning, bringing the city's total to 10. 

The ministry said Ontario has 39 new cases of the respiratory illness, increasing the total infected to 142.

All five local cases are in self-isolation, according to the ministry.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) confirmed that all 10 cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa are related to travel or contact with someone who has a confirmed case, including some who had contact with cases in Toronto.

At a press conference Sunday, Etches urged people to cancel events of all sizes in order to reduce transmission and limit unimportant trips out of their homes.

"I recommend that they don't go out for non-essential reasons," Etches said.

Take kids out of daycares

Etches asked parents Sunday to take their children out of daycare if possible.

All daycares are being asked to screen anyone who comes into their environment, she said, and should not allow any children who have been out of the country in the last 14 days.

"These guidelines are not meant to say, 'You must stay in your home!'" Etches said in a statement issued Sunday night.

"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 [one to two metres] from those around you."

Etches also said the city's assessment centre at the Brewer Arena saw around 250 people on Friday and about 300 on Saturday.

As of noon Sunday, 63 people had been tested.

Only around half of people who've visited the centre have been tested by public health officials, Etches said, as the remainder did not meet the criteria for testing.