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Coronavirus'Community transmission' of coronavirus in Ottawa

‘Community transmission’ of coronavirus in Ottawa

Below is the transcript from a video posted by Mayor Lowry on Sunday March 22/2020.  Her message speaks to the recent community transmissions of COVID-19 in the city of Ottawa and the importance of staying home, self-isolating and social distancing.   

Good evening Mississippi Mills,

I was planning to reach out to you tomorrow night like I did last Monday, but changes coming out of Ottawa Public Health this afternoon made it important to me to share this message with you tonight. 

This afternoon, the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Ottawa, Dr. Etches, stated that there is now community transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa. Community transmission means people have been infected with no known travel history, no link to someone who has travelled and no close contact with a confirmed case. Dr. Etches’ advice is that people should treat all interactions with others as a potential source of transmission. 

Our Medical Officer of Health is Dr. Paula Stewart with the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Health Unit.  She has warned that the presence of COVID-19 in surrounding communities increases the risk of the virus coming into our area.  Her advice is to act as if it were in our community now.  

Many in our community will be coming back from vacation and trips that have taken them outside of Canada.  The message has been loud and clear from all levels of government that those returning from outside Canada should self-isolate for 14 days.  Our Municipality is limiting the return to work of any employee that has been outside the country.   I strongly encourage anyone returning from travel to fully self-isolate for 2 weeks. 

I have been receiving a lot of concerned messages from residents who are observing people who are not practising social distancing and are not staying home.   I’ve also been asked why the municipality isn’t fining people or ordering businesses to close.   The Mayor, nor Council nor the Municipality have the right or power to close businesses or fine someone for not adhering to the directives from above.    My responsibility is to help get the messages out from Public Health and from the provincial and federal governments.  

The message from Public Health for the last week has been consistent: Stay home. Only leave your house when it is absolutely necessary, and if you must go out, keep a distance of 2.5meters from others. Social distancing means no coffee dates, no playdates, no cocktails at the neighbours. You can get outside and go for walks but respect appropriate distancing from others.  Kids can run around in the park but keep them away from playground equipment. 

Remember: for most, COVID-19 begins with mild or perhaps no symptoms but people can still be contagious and infect others. At the beginning, the virus can be invisible which is why it spreads so quickly. By inviting someone into your home, you are exposing yourself to everyone that person has been close to for the last two weeks.  The same risk applies if we don’t respect social distancing. 

How would your choices change if you knew the virus was in our community right now?  If Public Health called you today because you had tested positive for COVID-19 and asked you to list all the places you had been and all the people you had been in contact with for the last 14 days, would you be proud of yourself, or would you wish you had made different choices?

I know a lot of you are worried or frightened or frustrated right now. There are many unknowns and the situation is changing quickly. Remember the things you can control right now: you can control your attitude and choose to be kind, to be grateful for this community that is rallying together, for time with family and the ability to pick up the phone and connect with friends and neighbours. Take this a day at a time, or even a moment at a time if you need to. Know we will get through this together. 

I also know a lot of you want to help. I want to underline, your biggest responsibility right now is to stay home; this is the most impactful way you can help the community.  

There are other ways to help through the many resources available in our community.  I plan to share more with you tomorrow as we receive additional information from our community partners so please stay tuned and check in for those updates. 

Good night everyone.  Stay home and be well.

Mayor Lowry




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