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Ottawa Public Health strongly recommends mask use indoors as COVID-19 levels remain high

Employees respecting COVID-19 safety measures with mask use and hand sanitizing. Employees respecting COVID-19 safety measures with mask use and hand sanitizing.
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Ottawa Public Health is strongly recommending residents wear a mask in indoor and crowded public spaces, as COVID-19 levels remain high in the community during the second week of the school year.

In its weekly COVID-19 snapshot, Ottawa Public Health says its monitoring indicators are "once again showing a levelling-off of the decreases seen in previous weeks" across Ottawa.

"Levels of COVID-19 remain high in the community," OPH said on Twitter.

The COVID-19 Wastewater Viral Signal shows wastewater virus detection levels are "high" and remain unchanged since last week, according to the health unit.

A look at the COVID-19 wastewater viral signal for Ottawa on Sept. 15. (613covid.ca/website)

Tens of thousands of elementary, secondary and post-secondary students have returned to classes this month for a new school year, with no mask mandates in place in schools.

Ottawa Public Health is urging people to use the "layers of protection" against COVID-19 this fall.

"With school resuming and colder weather approaching, it’s important to continue using layers of protection against COVID-19. It’s worth noting that these layers of protection will also help protect against other seasonal respiratory viruses like colds, flu and RSV," OPH said on Twitter.

"We continue to strongly recommend wearing a mask in indoor and/or crowded public spaces."

The layers of protection include wearing a mask, being vaccinated with all the doses you are eligible for, washing your hands and staying home when you're sick.

In August, medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches stopped short of recommending everyone wear a mask in schools, but did say masks are "another layer of protection" for children, teachers and families.

"I think our children know they should always have a mask in their pocket and in their backpack and we encourage them to wear them when they're in close contact with others. It's something they've gotten used to," Dr. Etches said on CTV Morning Live on Aug. 30.

"For families where it's going to be something they want to do and their children aren't quite sure that they want to wear masks, you can have that conversation about why and how it protects them and protects others, and maybe find ways to make it easier – is it a mask they like, is it something that's comfortable for them."

ER BUSY AT CHEO

Ottawa's children's hospital is warning people to expect long wait times in its emergency department, due to high patient volumes.

"Our Emergency Department is experiencing heavier than normal volumes, and we always see the sickest, most urgent cases first," CHEO said in a statement on Twitter. "Come prepared with snacks, blankets, toys, etc. to make your wait as comfortable as possible. #CHEO is always here to provide urgent care when you need it."

On Thursday morning, the longest wait time to see a physician in the CHEO ER was 11 hours and 33 minutes. There were 57 people waiting in line to see a physician.

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