COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa workplaces growing

OTTAWA — Ottawa Public Health is reporting a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 outbreaks in local workplaces.

In its latest update on Tuesday, Ottawa Public Health identified 16 active COVID-19 outbreaks within various workplaces, including construction, restaurants, offices, and manufacturing facilities.

  • Workplace – Construction: 3 outbreaks
  • Workplace – Restaurant: 3 outbreaks
  • Workplace – Corporate/Office: 2 outbreaks
  • Workplace – Manufacturing: 2 outbreaks
  • Workplace – Warehouse: 2 outbreaks
  • Workplace – Health: 1 outbreak
  • Workplace – Distribution: 1 outbreak
  • Workplace – Services: 1 outbreak
  • Workplace – Transportation: 1 outbreak

OPH does not identify which workplaces have outbreaks, nor does the health unit say how many cases of COVID-19 are connected to each individual outbreak.

The health unit reported 18 workplace outbreaks in all of March and 12 in all of February.

Speaking at Monday’s board of health meeting, medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said OPH is being flooded with outbreaks at workplaces.

“Our team is now being inundated from workplaces where more than two people have tested positive. We’re also seeing outbreaks in offices where people could have potentially worked from home,” she said.

The board of health passed a motion Monday calling on the province to trim its list of essential workplaces and grant the city more power to inspect and close businesses that do not follow COVID-19 rules.

Board of Health Chair Coun. Keith Egli told CTV News at Noon the city would like to see a tighter list of workplaces that are required to remain open.

“We’re trying to be proactive and figure out what businesses this sort of thing may occur at and we’re asking the province to have a look at what might be essential,” he said. “They had a tighter list earlier on, during the last lockdown. We’re asking them to look at that again and possibly even tighten it further.”

Etches said trimming the list of essential businesses would limit the number of people at risk of infection in the workplace. She identified businesses that provide food, medicine or medically necessary care as ones that should remain open.

On Tuesday, both Toronto and Peel Region’s public health units announced that any workplaces in their regions with at least five recent COVID-19 cases would be required to close for at least 10 days to curb the spread of the virus.

“Workplace exposures in Peel Region continue to drive the region’s high case counts of COVID-19. Expedited closure will also allow Peel Public Health to investigate workplace exposures without risk of continued spread,” Peel Public Health said in a statement issued on Tuesday. 

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