Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says it will be transparent with educators and parents of children who may have come in contact with a positive COVID-19 case at school, even when an outbreak hasn't been declared.
During a teleconference Tuesday, Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health, said an outbreak will be declared when two people at a single school test positive, and both cases are found to have a link to the school environment. The policy is in line with provincial draft guidelines, she said.
That definition is a departure from how OPH has defined outbreaks at other institutions so far during the pandemic. At long-term care homes and daycares, for example, a single confirmed case prompts officials to declare an outbreak and is publicized online.
Etches said all outbreaks at schools will be similarly reported to the general public; however, if just one case is discovered at a school, a public health nurse will phone all potential contacts to notify them of next steps and whether they also require testing.
"Everyone understands that parents want as much information as possible," Etches said.
"Locally in Ottawa, what's important is having the information you need to protect your family and make decisions yourselves. So really, for those parents in a school where there is one case, and it's not declared an outbreak, we will be communicating with the parents who need to know that."
First death in August declared
OPH reported the city's first COVID-19-related death this month, bringing the total number of fatalities since the pandemic began to 265.
Tuesday's update marks the first death in the city since July 28.
There are eight new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, for a total of 108 active cases. Twenty-one more cases have been marked as resolved, for a total now standing at 2,355.
OPH reported two new outbreaks at long-term care homes in the city after one staff member tested positive at Residence Saint-Louis, and another at Billingwood Manor. There are now five institutional outbreaks in Ottawa.
Twelve people remain hospitalized with COVID-19, with one patient currently in intensive care.
Province processed 23K tests Monday
Ontario is reporting 125 new cases of the illness, a slight uptick from recent days.
Ontario's health minister said that's mostly attributed to localized increases, with 17 new cases in Peel, 27 in Toronto and 28 in Windsor-Essex.
Christine Elliott added 27 of the province's 34 public health units reported five or fewer cases on Monday. Sixteen reported no new cases.
Provincewide, 23,000 tests for COVID-19 were processed Monday.