Large parties turned into 'super-spreader' events for COVID-19 in Ottawa: Public Health
OTTAWA -- Ottawa's associate medical officer of health says large social gatherings and parties turned into "a super-spreader event" for COVID-19 in Ottawa.
Dr. Brent Moloughney tells CTV News Ottawa that Ottawa Public Health has seen eight to ten new cases of COVID-19 linked to a single social gathering as it investigates the recent spike of novel coronavirus cases in the community.
Fourteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ottawa on Thursday, following 44 new cases on Tuesday and 33 new cases on Wednesday. Since last Friday, 145 new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in Ottawa.
"There's clearly been a number of large social gatherings of 15, 20, 25 or more people, often indoors without physical distancing that has been associated with a large number of cases," Dr. Moloughney said Thursday evening.
"These become a super-spreader event. So essentially if you have someone infectious, particularly indoors with a large number of people that are crowding without sufficient physical distancing, not wearing masks, you will get usually a large number of people infected."
Dr. Moloughney added, "So far, several of these parties we're seeing eight, 10 people infected from just attending this one event."
The associate medical officer of health says while the large number of people infected at a party is a "problem in itself", those people can potentially spread the virus where they live and work.
Ottawa Public Health is reminding people to continue to practice physical distancing, wear a face mask while indoors or when physical distancing is not possible, and stay home if you are sick.
"What the experience with these parties has shown is that if we are not cautious, if we do not maintain distancing, if we do not wear a mask when we're indoors or outdoors in a crowded situation, if we are sick and have symptoms and we go to work or we go to a social gathering, then transmission will occur," said Dr. Moloughney.
"COVID is in our community, the vast majority of us remain susceptible. The virus just needs an opportunity for transmission and I think what these parties have shown is given the opportunity, it will spread."
Dr. Moloughney adds the new cases of COVID-19 are not linked to Ottawa entering Stage 3 of the COVID-19 reopening, including allowing dine-in at restaurants and gyms, movie theatres and other businesses to reopen.
"One of the things that we're seeing with the series of infections related to these parties is that in some cases children that were at the parties have become infected, so then again there's an opportunity for transmission to the rest of their family or a child care setting," said Dr. Moloughney in an interview with CTV News Ottawa.
"We've also had individuals who work in child care or long-term care have become infected in these parties. These parties don’t exist in isolation, we're all connected in where we work, where we socialize, where we shop, where we do things, so when given an opportunity for transmission to occur, it has knock-on effects of the opportunities for further spread to our families and other members of the community."
Dr. Moloughney says Ottawa Public Health understands "socializing is important" for our mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's a case of doing it in a way that reduces a risk of transmission. Being social-wise if you wish," said Dr. Moloughney.
"To avoid certain situations, so avoid indoor gatherings which are quite risky. If you're going to have a gathering, do it outdoors. Limit the numbers so that it's easy to maintain physical distancing between households."