Ottawa reports first case of COVID-19

OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported Ottawa’s first recorded case of COVID-19 today (March 11).

“OPH is reporting Ottawa’s first confirmed case of COVID-19,” the OPH released in a statement today. “The individual is currently in self-isolation at home with mild symptoms. The confirmed case is a man in his 40s and a resident of Ottawa with recent travel history to Austria. The individual was not symptomatic during his flight and is not considered a risk to other passengers.”

OPH is tracking the risk of contamination.

“OPH is in the process of following up with a small number of close contacts of the individual,” OPH said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

OPH continues to work 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.

“I want to assure residents of Ottawa that we have been preparing for the presence of COVID-19 in Ottawa and continue to work in close collaboration with our healthcare partners locally, provincially and federally,” OPH Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said. “I urge residents to follow Ottawa Public Health’s recommendations to help reduce the spread of all types of germs that are present in our community.”

To reduce the spread of germs including the flu and the novel coronavirus OPH recommends that you:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just cleaned your hands
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hand
  • If possible, stay home if you are sick
  • Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick
  • It is still recommended to get your flu shot if you haven’t already as the flu virus is still circulating in the community

OPH continues to encourage people to connect with trusted sources for coronavirus information including the following websites:

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, but cautions people to not get caught up in the term.

“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do,” Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

At a news conference Wednesday, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “We’re in this together, to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It’s doable.”

He is calling on all countries to “strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimizing economic and social disruption, while respecting human rights.”

While 118,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported globally, in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries — China, Italy, Iran and South Korea. Eighty-one countries have not reported any COVID-19 cases, and 57 countries have reported 10 cases or less.

There have been 41 cases confirmed in Ontario, with Ottawa’s first confirmed case being announced Wednesday morning.

“We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus, “All countries can still change the course of this pandemic.”