What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa Sunday, March 15

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa Sunday, March 15

Recent developments:

  • 5 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the city Sunday.
  • OLG has announced the temporary closure of all casinos in Ontario, including the Rideau Carleton Raceway.
  • Food banks in Ottawa and Gatineau are seeking monetary donations as they anticipate a spike in demand for their services.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from a very mild, cold-like illness to a severe lung infection. The most common symptoms include fever, fatigue and a dry cough.

A trip to the emergency room is necessary if anyone has difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to wake up and bluish lips or face, the World Health Organization says. 

The WHO says about one out of every six people who contract COVID-19 become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing.

Older people, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.  

The experience in Italy and China suggests as many as 10 per cent of people infected can require critical care.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the risk to the general public is low.

The coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can also spread through close, prolonged contact, such as touching or shaking hands and it can spread from person to person via surfaces like door handles, mobile phones, tables and light switches. 

There is no vaccine and no drugs to treat COVID-19. Hospitals can only help manage the symptoms. 

What if I have symptoms?

If you are experiencing shortness of breath or other severe symptoms, you should go to the emergency room and look for special signs.

People with mild symptoms who have not left Canada nor been in close contact with a confirmed case should, as has always been the case, stay at home.

These people are encouraged to read Ottawa Public Health's information page and call TeleHealth at 1-866-797-0000 with any further questions.

Anyone who feels sick and has recently travelled outside Canada or has been in contact with someone who has recently travelled should self-isolate at home as quickly as possible and seek guidance from Ottawa Public Health. 

They may be eligible for a test.

How do we get tested?

Ottawa Public Health has now opened its community assessment centre at Brewer Arena. There people with mild cold and flu symptoms can be assessed and if they meet necessary criteria, get tested for COVID-19. 

The centre is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 151 Brewer Way, off Bronson Avenue near Carleton University.

It's meant to divert non-emergency cases away from hospitals.

You don't need to call ahead.

You're asked not to take public transit if you are going to the arena. 

Gatineau's downtown assessment location has also opened.

What is the current situation in Ottawa?

In Ottawa public events are being cancelled, many people are being asked or told to work from home and most schools are closed or have moved classes online. 

CBC Ottawa is keeping a running list of local cancellations because of COVID-19. 

It's a temporary public health strategy aimed at slowing the potential spread of COVID-19 and buying time so the health care system doesn't get overwhelmed by a sudden spike in patients.

Ten people in Ottawa have tested positive for COVID-19, including Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. Five new cases were confirmed Sunday morning, but without any further details.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, a woman in her 30s tested positive at the Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, Ont.

There have also been two COVID-19 cases in the Trenton, Ont., quarantine for returning cruise ship passengers and one in a person who visited Mont-Laurier, Que.

The local public health authority says there's no risk to the public in the Trenton area.

How do I protect myself and others?

Ottawa Public Health advises people to take the following measures to reduce the risk:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay at home if you are sick, which includes not visiting others in hospital or a care home.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
  • If you don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
  • Get a yearly flu vaccination.
  • Self-isolate for 14 days if you're returning home from another country.

For more information

What if I have more questions?

As of Thursday, March 12, OPH was reporting "significant call volumes" at its 613-580-6744 number and said its priority was to hear from:

  • Health care providers reporting information.
  • Residents who've travelled to Iran, Italy or China's Hubei province.
  • Residents who've travelled outside Canada and are experiencing symptoms like fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.
  • Residents who've been in close contact with someone who's travelled abroad and are beginning to experience those same symptoms.

Anyone else should first read through their coronavirus website or phone TeleHealth at 1-866-797-0000.

The average call back time for TeleHealth calls has been between two and three hours, a spokesperson said Friday.

For western Quebec residents, Info-Santé 811 was also reporting "technical difficulties" Thursday and said people may have problems reaching someone on the other end.

Travellers still face highest risk in Ottawa

As of Saturday, March 14, people returning from all travel abroad are advised to self-isolate for 14 days, no matter whether they experience any symptoms. 

If these people start feeling symptoms, they are asked to stay away from other people as quickly as possible and call a doctor or OPH.

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said there is currently no evidence of community transmission in the Ottawa area, which occurs when the virus doesn't come from a known source such as travelling to a region with positive cases.

What if I have travel plans?

Chief Public Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday Canadians should postpone or cancel travel plans outside the country and avoid all cruises.

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said Friday international flights to Canada will be restricted to certain airports; specific airports have not been released.

Global Affairs Canada has issued COVID-19-related travel notices for China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Spain.

The department is advising all Canadians travelling anywhere internationally to return to Canada on commercial flights while they are available. 

Travel advice from the federal government can be found on Global Affairs Canada's website.

Several U.S. states, including New York, Washington, and Florida, have declared states of emergency because of COVID-19.