February 2, 2021 – Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches
We continue to see encouraging indicators that the current public health measures are working to decrease COVID-19 in our community.
You’ve heard us say this many times: we’ve done it before and we can do it again. I look forward to being able to say that we have, indeed, done it again – managed to decrease COVID-19 levels low enough to enable more services to be available again.
I want to make this abundantly clear: opening schools does not mean we are in the clear or that we are ready to ease up on the other public health measures and provincial restrictions in place. We need to continue to reduce transmission in the community as lower levels make outbreaks less likely and many workplaces are currently affected.
In other words, this is still “stay at home” except for students to attend school – an essential service for them.
We know these last several weeks have been particularly challenging. I want parents to know they don’t have to parent without support and there are resources available to help parents. Visit our Supporting Schools during COVID-19 page and our Parenting in Ottawa website for more information.
Testing in schools
I want to thank parents for getting back in the habit of daily screening of children for symptoms of COVID-19 before they go to school. If your child meets the criteria, seek testing right away and ensure every member of the household stays home and self-isolates while waiting for the test results.
We will continue to work with our partners to offer onsite testing at schools, particularly to improve access to testing where there are a large number of high-risk contacts, as well as when we are seeking more information about potential transmission in a school.
The basics, of limiting close contacts to the people you live with, staying two metres apart from anyone outside your household, wearing a mask and washing hands often are a routine that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Special Focus: COVID-19 in Schools
Today Ottawa Public Health published a special report on COVID-19 in schools. This report, which can now be found on OttawaPublicHealth.ca, found that while limited transmission of COVID-19 occurred within schools and peaked in early October, it declined soon thereafter.
The report also showed that the vast majority – 85 per cent – of those who tested positive got their infection outside of school. And of the 55 outbreaks identified in schools, more than half involved only two individuals.
The data in this report, in addition to the negative mental health impacts of school closures on our entire community, supports the decision to reopen schools in Ottawa.
Keep up with your health and seek medical care when you need it
Our hospital partners have highlighted that older adults who test positive for COVID-19 are sometimes waiting too long before going to the emergency department, which can lead to more severe illness and death. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, please get tested.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19:
- Monitor your symptoms carefully (try keeping a journal)
- Don’t delay getting medical care if your symptoms worsen
- Remember that your condition can change rapidly
- If your symptoms progress, help is available by booking an appointment at the COVID-19 care clinics, which are out-of-hospital clinics specifically for this virus
- If you need urgent care, go to the nearest emergency department, or call 911 immediately.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are concerned that you may need more than just a swab, please consider making an appointment for a physician care visit at one of Ottawa’s four care clinics. At a COVID-19 Care and Testing Centre, you can see a physician and, if medically appropriate, get the following tests:
- Chest X-ray
- Basic blood work
- Throat culture
- COVID testing
Again, if you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to a COVID-19 Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care and Testing Centre. Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.
For locations and hours of the COVID-19 Assessment Centres and COVID-19 Care and Testing Centres, please visit our website.
Health care providers have also noted that fewer people are going to their medical appointments or seeking medical help out of concern of getting COVID-19. Even during a pandemic, one thing that should not change is seeking medical care when needed. Waiting too long to get medical help can have serious consequences.
Take care of yourselves and look out for one another.
Friday’s virtual panel: The Hidden Harms of COVID-19
This Friday, February 5, Dr. Vera Etches will be participating in a virtual panel hosted by Canada 2020 to discuss the secondary effects of public health interventions against COVID-19, how they continue to impact the health and wellbeing of Canadians, and why they must not be ignored. Dr. Etches will be joined on the panel with Dr. Vivek Goel, Professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto School, and Dr. Gail Beck, Clinical Director, Youth Psychiatry Program, The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.
Register to learn more about how non-COVID related harms are causing concern among health care professionals and those in social services.
Host: Canada 2020
Date/Time: Feb 5, 2021 12:00 PM
Register to attend: RSVP
Youth Mental Health and Addictions Virtual Town Hall
On Thursday, February 11 at 7:00pm, CHEO and the Kids Come First Health Team are hosting a virtual event for parents of youth to discuss youth mental health and addictions. Parents can sign up and submit questions in advance to the panel of experts.
The panel of speakers includes:
• Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
• Ottawa Public Health
• Parent’s Lifeline of Eastern Ontario (PLEO)
• Rideauwood Addictions and Family Services
• Le Cap
• CHEO’s Youth Partner
Host: CHEO and the Kids Come First Health Team
Date/Time: Feb 11, 2021 7:00 PM
Register to attend: RSVP
Vera Etches MD, MHSc, CCFP, FRCPC
Medical Officer of Health, Ottawa Public Health
Consultez page 2 pour la version française