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November 20th - Update from Ottawa Public Health

Message from Dr. Vera Etches:


While we continue to see an increase in COVID-19 throughout the province, many indicators are pointing to a slow decline in transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa. This is good news and it is directly thanks to the residents of Ottawa.


However, this does not mean we can relax and let our guards down. As a community and as individuals, it is important we keep practicing the protective behaviours that have helped reduce the spread of the virus in Ottawa. Keeping our masks on, staying home as much as possible and always when we are sick (except to get a COVID-19 test!) and keeping a two metre-distance from people outside our household is what will get us through. These simple actions help us avoid hospitalizations and deaths and the closure of businesses and schools, and the corresponding negative consequences of those outcomes.


If we do these simple things, and we continue to grow supports for people who have less choice to work in higher risk settings or to isolate from ill family members, we can keep COVID-19 levels low in the community over the winter months.


Please see below for additional updates regarding Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the COVID-19 response. Thank you for your continued support and work on behalf of the residents of Ottawa.


Special Focus Report: Acquisition exposures of COVID-19

Last week, OPH published a report looking at where the transmission of COVID-19 is occurring in Ottawa. To look more closely at the impact of Stage 3 reopening on the spread of the virus, OPH analyzed the data collected from Ottawa residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 to find sources of infection and chains of transmission in our community.


Common risk factors identified in the report include:

  1. Socializing outside of one’s own household where talking, eating and drinking was involved – whether that occurred in homes, bars and restaurants, patios or parks (indoors or outdoors).

  2. Close contact in small spaces during social and workplace settings – indoors at home and in sports venues, small poorly ventilated spaces such as locker rooms, cars, meeting rooms, and break rooms.

  3. Inadequate/inconsistent mask use when interacting with people outside of one’s own householdin crowded environments and where physical distancing is not maintained – when socializing, coaching, teaching or caring for friends, family, students or clients.

These locally identified risk factors align with what the World Health Organization has identified as the ‘Three Cs’ where COVID-19 spreads more easily, particularly when all three overlap:


1) crowded places with many people nearby;

2) close contact setting with close-range conversations; and,

3) confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.


The full report can be found here. Please share this information broadly within your networks. With this information in hand, residents will be better equipped to make more informed decisions to protect against COVID-19.


Seeking feedback from residents

OPH and the City of Ottawa are continuing to explore how best to support residents and businesses as provincial and local COVID-19 restrictions are modified, while aligning with the Province of Ontario’s Response Framework to Help Keep the Province Safe and Open.

Phase 4 of our engagement strategy launched this week and includes a new survey and forum questions available on Engage Ottawa in English or Participons Ottawa in French.

This is the fourth phase of the public engagement strategy since the beginning of the pandemic. Reports and findings from the first three phases are linked below.

Please promote the Phase 4 survey with your constituents whenever possible as the data gathered is invaluable for informing and supporting our COVID-19 response.


Update on the 2020 flu vaccination campaign

This year, Ottawa Public Health’s influenza (flu) vaccination campaign had to be modified from past years as a result of COVID-19. Ottawa Public Health’s fixed site clinics have been fully booked since opening in October, and within the first two weeks of being open the number of Ottawa residents vaccinated by OPH has surpassed the total number of residents who received the influenza vaccination last year. OPH has communicated to the province that we are aiming to vaccinate more people than in previous years and that the local demand for vaccine remains high.


On November 19, the fixed site OPH Flu Vaccination Clinic at Notre-Dame-Des-Champs Community Hall, 3659 Navan Road, was amalgamated with the Orléans Public Library Flu Vaccination Clinic location (1705 Orléans Blvd.) Please note that this has not resulted in fewer appointments being available for residents as the Orléans Public Library Flu Vaccination Clinic location is able to handle the additional appointments. The amalgamation was undertaken to provide increased support for the mobile clinic operation. Locations and dates for the mobile clinic, consisting of an RV and a bus, are anticipated to be finalized by November 25.


As noted last week, OPH has distributed all the doses of the high-dose trivalent (HD-TIV) vaccine for those 65 years old and older that were allotted to OPH for the 2020-2021 Universal Influenza Immunization Program. The Ministry of Health has also informed OPH that Ontario has received 100% of its order for the high-dose trivalent inactivated vaccine for older adults and that all of the doses have been distributed by the Ontario Government Pharmaceutical and Medical Supply Service (OGPMSS). No additional doses of the high-dose trivalent vaccine are anticipated to be provided to OPH or other health units in Ontario at this time. Please note that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has stated that there is insufficient evidence to make a preferential recommendation between HD-TIV and QIV for people 65 years and older. Both vaccines are effective and recommended for seniors. The most important thing is for seniors to get the vaccine that is available in their location without delay.


For more information about influenza immunization, please refer to www.ottawapublichealth.ca/flu.

If you have questions regarding the provincial vaccine order please contact uiip.moh@ontario.ca. Thank you for your patience and for your ongoing support of Ottawa Public Health’s influenza immunization program.


Winter 2020-21

OPH has heard concerns and apprehension from many in the community about the upcoming winter months. There is no doubt that the coming months will be some of the most difficult of the pandemic as winter weather forces more of us inside and we are presented with less opportunities to socialize safely. With shorter days, longer nights and temperatures below 0, it is imperative that we look after our mental and physical health while being COVIDWise. Outdoor activities are good for both physical and mental health and usually carry a lower risk of COVID transmission than indoor activities. For this reason, OPH has developed a poster that can be printed or shared online highlighting a few ways residents can stay physically healthy and enjoy the outdoors during the winter months.

We ask all residents to please consider their own risk factors before participating in any outdoor group activity. For an older person or someone with chronic medical problems, the best decision may be to not participate in group activities at all and instead focus on individual activities, like walking. OPH recommends the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website to all persons wishing to better understand their personal risks for COVID-19 infection.


Winters in Ottawa can be tough and OPH recognizes that not all residents have the same supports or access to winter activities or winter appropriate clothing. This year, OPH is strongly encouraging those in our community who have new or gently used winter clothing, boots and accessories to please consider donating to local non-profits to help ensure winter activities are available to as many residents as possible.


Testing Taskforce

On Thursday, November 19 Ottawa’s COVID-19 Testing Taskforce, led by sector partners, opened a new COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at the National Arts Centre (NAC). The drive-thru testing is available for those 14 years of age and older, by appointment only with a valid Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. The new centre is open seven days a week, 10 am to 6 pm. Appointments can be booked online or by calling 613-737-8193. Please note the Drive-thru Assessment Centre at Coventry Road has been closed.

Ottawa’s COVID-19 Testing Taskforce is continuing to issue a daily testing update that provides key highlights about the number of residents tested that day (up to 3pm), the average turnaround time for results, and more. The update also includes any new information regarding testing centres, hours of operation and appointment booking.

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©2019 by Jan Harder.