Ottawa’s top doctor to provide COVID-19 update one week before restrictions begin to ease

Ottawa’s medical officer of health will provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in the capital today, one week after schools opened to in-person learning and one week before COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.

Dr. Vera Etches will address a special Ottawa Board of Health meeting at 3 p.m. to discuss the current situation in Ottawa, and answer questions from board members.

The update comes as the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses has increased in Ottawa over the past week.

Ottawa Public Health reported 93 people in Ottawa hospitals with an active COVID-19 infection on Sunday, up from 62 hospitalizations on Jan. 16. There are currently 14 people in the intensive care unit with an active COVID-19 infection, up from seven people one week ago.

Ottawa Public Health reports only hospitalizations among Ottawa residents with a hospital intervention for active COVID-19. To count as a hospitalization intervention, the hospitalization must involve treatment for an active COVID-19 infection or have a hospital stay extended because of active COVID-19.


Dr. Etches will likely be asked about the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa’s schools, one week after students returned to class for the first time since the Christmas break.

Ottawa school boards plan to inform parents of COVID-19 cases in classes and in schools, even though the Ontario government suspended mandatory reporting of cases. The provincial guidelines state principals would only notify the health unit of a potential outbreak when 30 per cent of students and staff are absent.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board and the Conseil des Ecoles Catholiques du Centre-Est have said they will notify parents, guardians and staff when they receive confirmation of a COVID-19 case in the school.

The CECCE is asking parents and guardians to notify the school if a child receives a positive result from a PCR or rapid-antigen test, and management will report the cases to classes while keeping names confidential.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board has said if the school becomes aware of a positive COVID-19 test result via a rapid antigen or PCR test, families would be notified.

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board is setting up a voluntary COVID-19 reporting process for parents, students and staff to share information about cases. A new COVID-19 Disclosure Dashboard will share information on COVID-19 cases in schools based on the information voluntarily shared by parents and guardians.

Starting today, all school boards must report school absences, tracking how many students and staff are physically present in a school on a given day.

Information will be posted on the Ontario government’s website.


Ontario has unveiled a three-step plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the province.

Starting Jan. 31, indoor dining at restaurants, gyms, retailers, shopping malls and cinemas can reopen at 50 per cent capacity. Spectators at sporting events, concert venues and theatres is capped at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.

On Feb. 21, Ontario will remove capacity limits in indoor settings where proof of vaccination is required, including restaurants, indoor sports facilities and cinemas.

As of March 14, all capacity limits in indoor public settings will be lifted, but proof of vaccination requirements will still be in effect.

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