Since March 2020, you have been asked to adapt, to change behaviours to protect each other, and to support one another through challenging times. I want to thank you and your teams for your contributions and continued collaboration. Unfortunately, due to increasing respiratory illness in our communities, Ottawa again faces challenging times and needs your ongoing support, partnership, and resolve to protect people at risk and our health system capacity.
Responding to the current increase in respiratory illnesses
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) continues to respond to COVID-19, which includes publishing a weekly COVID-19 snapshot of the current situation. As mentioned in my most recent Special Statement, COVID-19, Influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) are all circulating in our community and are impacting the pediatric health system’s capacity. Our colleagues at CHEO have also released a statement highlighting the early arrival of viral respiratory season.
Last week, the Ottawa Board of Health approved a motion calling for the Province to publicly release modeling data for this fall and winter respiratory illness season, and to intensify communications on vaccination, masking, and other measures for limiting the impact of respiratory illnesses.
This week, Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, provided an update highlighting the growing burden of respiratory illnesses across the province, particularly in young children. He noted the pediatric health care system is taking extra-ordinary measures to meet the demand for critical care. Dr. Moore has urged Ontarians to use all layers of protection available to them to limit the spread of respiratory illnesses, including a Province-wide recommendation that masks be worn in indoor, public settings.
Masks and other protective layers
Small actions can make a big difference, and so I am asking you, your teams and your organization to lead by example and wear a well-fitted mask in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor public settings to help limit transmission, protect the capacity of pediatric care, and reduce risks for severe illness requiring hospitalization. OPH also supports any business, workplace or organization taking steps that encourage and welcome mask wearing. This mask poster is made available to you for posting in your work and public environments.
Wearing masks indoors and outdoors in crowded spaces, staying up to date on vaccines, staying home when sick and washing your hands are all behaviours that will help stop the spread of respiratory illnesses. While the Province is in the best position to implement a mask mandate, given the province-wide challenge and benefits of a consistent approach, OPH will continue to monitor the situation in Ottawa and assess all possible local options.
For influenza information including expanded eligibility and clinic locations, please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Flu. For COVID-19 information including booking your next dose, please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVID19Vaccine.
Mental Health Resources
We know the last several years have been challenging and that there are many in our communities who are struggling. For more information and resources, please visit the Mental Health, Addictions and Substance Use Health Services and Resources webpage.
I appreciate your continued efforts and ongoing support of our communities and our residents most in need. Please do not hesitate to respond directly to me, or through OPHStakeholderRelations@ottawa.ca, if there is any further support we can provide.
Thank you /Merci/Meegwetch,
Dr. Vera Etches