Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health

March 29, 2020 - Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health

It’s a challenging and even frustrating time for everyone – parents, children, teenagers, seniors, employers and employees and essential services workers. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and every citizen must continue doing their part to keep themselves, their family members, their neighbours, co-workers and community members healthy and safe, and reduce the spread of this virus.

As of this morning, there are 122 confirmed cases in Ottawa and a second outbreak at a retirement home in Ottawa, at Maplewood Retirement Community. OPH continues to investigate the outbreak. The retirement home has implemented outbreak management and OPH is connecting with close contacts, as we do in all cases. All residents have been notified and are in self-isolation. Staff at the retirement home continue to be screened and have been instructed to wear personal protective equipment in the building, specifically wearing a mask when entering the building and following droplet/contact procedures in all resident rooms.

With more cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ottawa, including confirmation of community spread, we continue to urge everyone to practice physical (social) distancing or self-isolate if you develop symptoms.  Some key things to remember:

For individuals with respiratory symptoms (such as fever, cough), please follow these directives:

  • You must self-isolate for 14 days from when your symptoms started, or until 24 hours after symptoms have FULLY resolved, whichever is longer.

  • You must not leave your home if you have respiratory symptoms. Call your doctor or TeleHealth at 1-866-797-0000 if you have questions.

  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, please visit your nearest emergency department. 

  • If you think you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, a self assessment tool is available to help determine how to seek further care.


For individuals who are returning from travel, by federal law, you must immediately self-isolate for 14 days.

  • The federal Minister of Health announced an Emergency Order requiring any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. By federal law, if you have just returned to Canada from abroad, leaving your property, even to go for a walk or to the grocery store, is not permitted under the Quarantine Order issued March 25, 2020. This also means not stopping at the grocery store or the pharmacy on the way home from the airport or the border.

  • If you need groceries or other essential items, have a family member, friend or neighbour do the shopping for you and leave items at the door.

  • If you have respiratory symptoms, follow the guidance in the section above.


For ALL Ottawa residents (except those listed above)

  • Practice physical (social) distancing – avoid all non-essential trips in the community.

  • Household contacts (people you live with) do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick, or have returned from travel within the past 14 days.

  • Cancel ALL group gatherings, including group/team play on sports fields.

  • Connect via phone, video chat, or social media instead of in-person.

  • Talk to your employer about working from home (if possible).

  • Avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives unless the visit is essential.

  • Keep windows down for essential community trips via taxi or rideshares.


And some special reminders for parents with children, as well as all of us as we practice physical (social) distancing:  

You can go outside.  It’s healthy. You can still take a walk, play with your dog outside, or kick a ball with members of your household who are already close contacts.

When outside, maintain a two-metre distance. Avoid crowds and maintain a distance of two metres (six feet) from those around you. Make an effort to step-aside, or pass others quickly and courteously on sidewalks.  Passing someone on the sidewalk is not considered close contact or a significant risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Remember to check in with others by phone or other technology. Support your neighbours if you can. Check in with yourself too. It’s ok not to be ok, and I encourage you to reach out to the Distress Centre of Ottawa to connect with someone at 613-238-3311 if you need help or are having trouble coping.

Each of our efforts are needed as a community. The actions you take will affect not only you, but your loved ones and the most vulnerable people in our community. By acting now, you may be saving lives – the life of a family member, a neighbour, a friend, or a coworker.

This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone, but we can do it. I’d like to thank you for your cooperation with physical (social) distancing from others and thank people who are helping each other. Supporting our neighbours is essential for us to make it through this pandemic. Please go to OttawaPublicHealth.ca and follow and share our updates on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.



Dr. Vera Etches

For more information on testing and care for COVID-19, and how to practice physical (social) distancing, visit our website: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus. Information on financial and social supports is available on Ottawa.ca

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Phone: 613-580-2484
Address: 110 Laurier Ave W, Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1