OTTAWA -- Ottawa residents are being urged to prepare for a possible spike of COVID-19 cases in the capital.

Four new COVID-19 cases were reported in Toronto and York Region on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in Ontario to 15. 

A seventh case of novel coronavirus in Ontario was confirmed on Friday.

Now, Ottawa Public Health says “there is a strong possibility that this virus could become a pandemic” and residents should prepare in the event you or someone in your house becomes ill.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told CTV News Ottawa this week that “we know we have a population that is not immunized, there’s no vaccine, we’re vulnerable and we could see a wave of illness that does potentially overwhelm our health care system.”

Etches urged residents to prepare for possible cases at home and at work, including stocking up on medications and non-perishable food items.

Ottawa pharmacies and hardware stores have seen a rush to purchase some products, including Purell and surgical masks.

Scott Watson of Watson’s Pharmacy said “I think it was just after Christmas .. we sold out and we just found we were unable to reorder.”

Watson adds that while the pharmacy is waiting for both products to be restocked, it’s supplying an alternative brand of hand-sanitizer to hold people over.

Ottawa Public Health offers the following tips to prepare for a possible pandemic:

Get Ready

Stock up on non-perishable foods gradually over the next few weeks

  • Be prepared for two weeks should you become ill

Fill prescriptions and stock up over-the-counter medications

  • Don’t wait to fill essential prescriptions
  • Fill  prescriptions for an extra month if you’re able
  • Get refills with enough notice so that you do not run out of medication you may need
  • Purchase over-the-counter pain/fever medications

Make plans for your children or other dependents in case you may be sick

Stock up on cleaning supplies

Ensure you have adequate sanitary/hygiene supplies

Limit the spread of germs

Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer

Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hand

Stay home if you are sick

Do not visit 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

Take care of yourself

Stay healthy by eating well, drinking lots of fluids, staying active and trying to get enough rest and sleep

Reach out to the Distress Centre of Ottawa to connect with someone at 613-238-3311

The City of Ottawa has tips for building an emergency preparedness kit in the event of an emergency. 

General rules for your kit:

An emergency preparedness kit should contain adequate supplies to keep you and your family self-sufficient in your home for at least 72 hours. The city says your major needs will be food and water.

  • Two litres of water per person for each day
  • Collect some non-perishable foods like grain products, meat and alternatives, canned fruits and vegetables, non-perishable milk products, other foods, and additional food supplies
  • Rotate your emergency foods and water into your regular meals to be sure they don’t expire, and replace the items as you us them.

Special needs checklist:

The city also recommends building a special needs checklist to ensure everyone’s unique needs are provided for in the event of an emergency.

  • For babies: jarred baby food; instant cereal or formula; sterilized water to make formula; baby bottles; disposable diapers; extra clothing; snowsuit; medication
  • For adults: special medications; dentures; eyeglasses; hearing aids; batteries; copies of prescriptions
  • For children: toys; games; extra clothing; special medications
  • For pets: water; food; vaccination records

Ottawa Public Health has information on COVID-19 on its website.