Watson and Public Health team visit Chinatown to allay COVID-19 fears
OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson visited Chinatown Friday, along with Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health, to fight any stigma directed at the community, amid the spread of COVID-19.
"They're up against a lot of social media that's inaccurate, that says that restaurants have any form of contaminants," Watson said.
Watson, Dr. Vera Etches, and the Chair of Ottawa's Board of Health, Coun. Keith Egli, were served lunch and tea at several restaurants along Somerset Street.
Dr. Etches says the virus is not in the National Capital Region and there's no particular neighbourhood that would be at greater risk if it were to arrive.
"This is not related to ethnicity or background," Etches said.
Some business owners have reported a decline in business since the spread of the virus. Mui Ha, who runs a salon and bubble tea shop, has noticed a drop in customers.
"It's sad but for me, same thing, I've never seen this before," she said.
At Jadeland restaurant, owners say they've heard of other businesses being forced to cut staff hours. Jimmy Chan says he's fortunate his regulars continue to come back.
The Mayor says he was invited along with health experts by the Chinatown Business Improvement Area (BIA) to help stop the spread of misinformation.
"Early on, we saw some unfortunate comments, bordering on racism, in terms of kids treating Chinese kids differently in school yards and so on, and people fearing to go to a Chinese restaurant, for instance," the Mayor said.
"So, when the BIA invited us earlier this week, we said, 'absolutely; anything to show that the restaurants here are amazing and they're safe and they're clean.' We have to support these men and women who put their livelihoods on the line every day when they open their doors to their restaurants."
Dr. Etches says if COVID-19 reaches Ottawa, any health messaging will be updated at that time.