OPH confirms second case of COVID-19 and other coronavirus news

OTTAWA – The second confirmed case of COVID-19 has been found in Ottawa as the city steps up measures to deal with the pandemic.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is confirming another confirmed case of COVID-19 in the city. The agency said Thursday, a woman in her 40s, who recently spent time in Italy, has tested positive for the coronavirus. She is in self-isolation with mild symptoms.

OPH explained that the woman was not symptomatic on her flight back to Canada, so there was no risk to anyone else who shared the same plane. The woman had no close contacts since returning from Europe.

OPH added, this case is unrelated to the first case, confirmed on March 11 involving a man in his 40s, who had just returned from Austria.

The agency said it continues to work closely with local hospitals, health care partners, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario and national partners to monitor and detect any cases of COVID-19 in the community.

Ottawa opens assessment centre

OLD OTTAWA SOUTH – Brewer Arena (151 Brewer Way) will be home to Ottawa’s first COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre.

There has been no word on when it may be opening, but the agency is focused on getting it operational as soon as possible. 

At a news conference yesterday (March 11), a doctor from The Ottawa Hospital said the city’s first assessment centre should open at some point next week.

Plans are in the works to open two centres in Ottawa, and possibly more if called for. 

Kanata businesses closes doors due to COVID-19

KANATA – Ciena is closing its Kanata office (5050 Innovation Dr.) after one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.

It is believed the employee was the first reported case of COVID-19 in Ottawa. The tech company has advised its employees to work from home until at least March 17.

Ontario cases rise

ONTARIO – Ontario public health officials reported five more cases of COVID-19 yesterday (March 11), bringing the total to 42, as the government announced a $100-million contingency fund to deal with the global pandemic in this province, where it will likely continue spreading.

Health officials said a recent case of a Sudbury man who was confirmed to have the novel coronavirus after attending a large mining convention in Toronto doesn’t appear to be evidence of community spread, but that is likely a matter of if — not when.

“Unfortunately it probably is an inevitability,” said Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe. “Certainly, the last 24 hours there’s been an up-tick in numbers of cases and cases with different characteristics than before, which is concerning. We’re very carefully monitoring it.”

The man in his 50s from Sudbury attended the Prospectors and Developers Association in Canada convention on March 2 and 3 in Toronto, but it is not yet clear if he recently travelled outside the country or was in close contact with another confirmed case. He is an employee of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and its Sudbury office has been shut down, the government said. Yaffe said it’s likely the man acquired the virus at the convention, which was attended by more than 20,000 people from many different countries.

Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also attended the PDAC mining convention on March 2.

Ford’s office said the premier is in good health and not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, and he has not been contacted through the process of contact-tracking for the infected man.

Trudeau said he has not been tested for the virus but is following recommendations of the chief public health officer to keep himself and his family safe.

Ford announced that Ontario has set aside a $100-million contingency fund to deal with COVID-19, and Elliott said the money will likely go toward buying more equipment such as testing kits and personal protective gear, as well as hiring more health-care staff, if needed.

That is in addition to a $1-billion package the federal government announced to help the country’s health-care system and economy cope with the novel coronavirus.

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic Wednesday.

Ontario will have dedicated assessment centres set up within days and is looking at being able to diagnose people at home, as well as whether restrictions should be in place around large gatherings, Elliott said. It’s also putting plans in place in case any hospitals have to be shut down because of coronavirus cases, she said.

Ford said he looks forward to discussing COVID-19 plans with the federal government and the country’s other premiers at this week’s first ministers’ meeting.

Most affected recovering from COVID-19

OTTAWA – Amid the fears, quarantines and stockpiling of food and toilet paper, more than 60,000 people have recovered from the coronavirus spreading around the globe.

The disease can cause varying degrees of illness and is especially troublesome for older adults and people with existing health problems, who are at risk of severe effects, including pneumonia. But for most of those affected, coronavirus creates only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, with the vast majority recovering from the virus.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe ailments may take three to six weeks to rebound. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed, but more than 58,000 already have recovered.

Because the difference in impact can be so great, global health authorities have the difficult task of alerting the public to the virus’ dangers without creating panic.

The widespread consequences of the virus have been staggering, sending shock waves through the world’s financial markets. Global oil prices sustained their worst percentage losses since the Gulf War in 1991, and new restrictions were imposed in Italy and in Israel as the Holy Week approached.

Sens taking COVID-19 precautions

KANATA – The Ottawa Senators announced it is taking new precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The team says it has enhanced venue cleaning and disinfecting at the Canadian Tire Centre and Sensplexes around the city.

Among the steps the team says it is taking:

Enhanced venue cleaning and disinfecting policies have been implemented.

Sanitation stations will be present at all entrances, and the team recommends using the hand sanitizer provided upon entry into and out of our venues.

Every washroom has soap and paper towel dispensers or hand dryers. Handwashing guidelines are posted in each of the restrooms. 

Additional signage has been put up around venues providing information on steps you can take to protect yourself, including handwashing.  

Food service personnel are being continuously provided with best practices on safe food preparation and service.

The team says that procedures are in place should any employees show symptoms of the flu or a virus, with the aim of containing any illness that may affect its ability to provide customer service. 

The Senators say if the National Hockey League or public health authorities determine that stronger measures limiting access to Senators games are required, that the team will do its utmost to make alternative arrangements.

The NHL was hosting a conference call today (March 12) to determine its future action regarding upcoming games. It is likely the NHL will follow the lead of other professional sports leagues that have cancelled, or delayed their season for the foreseeable future. The National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer have announced they will suspend their leagues. Major League Baseball is suspending the currently ongoing pre-season.

The Canadian music awards, the Juno Awards scheduled for Saskatoon this Sunday (March 15), have also been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.