Stay local, limit contacts for Thanksgiving weekend: Ottawa's top doctor
OTTAWA -- Ottawa's top doctor is urging people to cancel travel plans and limit contacts to their households only for Thanksgiving weekend as Ottawa sees a record number of new COVID-19 cases.
Ottawa Public Health reported a record 183 new cases of novel coronavirus on Thursday, the third time in a week Ottawa has seen more than 100 new cases in a single day.
Councillor Catherine McKenney shared a message from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches with constituents on Thursday afternoon.
"Data shows COVID-19 is spreading too fast in Ottawa because of everyday actions that bring too many of us in close contact with others without masks on. We are falling behind," said Dr. Etches in the statement.
"Prevention is the only way that we can slow the crisis in the rest of our health system. It is for this reason that I am recommending that residents who plan on celebrating Thanksgiving should stay local, keep gatherings to members of their household only, and connect with extended family and friends virtually instead of in person."
Ontario's social gathering limits allow for up to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors in private settings.
Dr. Etches is asking people to limit gatherings to "those who live in your household or those providing support services, such as a caregiver."
Speaking with reporters Thursday afternoon, Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brent Moloughney said it's important to limit your contacts to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
"It's essential that people are limiting their social interactions and staying with their households everyday at this point, and even more so over this Thanksgiving weekend when it's a normal time traditionally for people to come together in large groups," said Dr. Moloughney about the need to limit contacts outside your household.
"Quite honestly, it's at this point everyday and all of our actions where we need to be staying with our household and if we're near other people and maintaining two metres, wearing a mask."
Dr. Moloughney notes Ottawa Public Health has seen an "uptick" in cases after holiday weekends.
"Considering where we are now, we just had a record number of cases (Thursday) and we had over 100 cases reported yesterday, that we frankly can't afford an uptick that could spur a growth rate that's even higher than it is now."
Ottawa Public Health has asked people for over a week to limit their social gatherings for Thanksgiving weekend to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Moloughney says Thursday's COVID-19 case count is a reminder that all of our actions have an impact on the situation.
"We're at an important point in time here as a community and it's really about all of us taking a look at our plans, perhaps needing to change them," said Dr. Moloughney, noting there could be a rise in cases as people gather indoors over the long weekend.
"To say ok, I had planned on a bigger gathering but we really need to be a household and we'll reach out to people virtually in other ways."
Dr. Moloughney encouraged people to reach out to family and friends through social media and use video capabilities to connect over the weekend.
"This isn't forever. We're in the middle of a pandemic, we have a resurgence going on in the Ottawa area, so for this Thanksgiving we need to do things a little differently and be with our loved ones in our household but maintain our distance for other people."
On Thursday, Ottawa Public Health shared a contact tracing graphic showing one person going to a wedding with mild symptoms of COVID-19 was linked to 22 confirmed cases of the virus.
"We don't really want to have another infographic in a few weeks from now showing you a Thanksgiving get-together and the adverse impacts in terms of transmission," said Dr. Moloughney.
While Dr. Moloughney would not say post-secondary students should not head home to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving weekend, he did recommend people think twice.
"My advice would be individual decisions are going to have to be made here in terms of what makes sense for each family and what the components of the people in the family," said Dr. Moloughney, noting health factors for each family member will need to be considered.
"Every family is going to need to make those kinds of decisions going into the weekend, but the basic principle overall is that your existing household, that's your group to be staying with for the weekend."