March 23 COVID-19 update: Ottawa cases at 27, Olympic athletes pulled, province to provide daycare to healthworkers

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – Three new confirmed cases brings the total of COVID-19 infections to 27 in the Ottawa area.

The province is confirming three new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa today (March 23), one of which needed hospitalization.

The person in hospital is a man in his 50s. How he contracted the virus has yet to be determined – the status of the case is listed as ‘pending’ on the government’s website.

Ottawa’s two other new cases involve a girl under the age of 18, who got the virus after travelling, and a woman in her 50s, who contracted the illness through a close contact.

Ontario released its new COVID-19 figures Monday, as it does each day, at 10:30 a.m.

Ottawa Public Health now has laboratory confirmation of community spread of the novel-coronavirus COVID-19 in Ottawa,” ottawa’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said yesterday (March 22). “We have 27 confirmed laboratory cases that either confirmed by two tests, or indeterminate according to one test.”

One new case was also confirmed in Eastern Onatrio – a woman in her 60s, who contracted the virus through a close contact.

Across the province, 78 new confirmed cases were announced today, bringing the to-date total to 503 – eight of those have recovered and six have died.

The number of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada rose to 1,472 by the end of Sunday, an increase of 141 over the previous 24 hours.

The country’s death toll from the new coronavirus rose to 21.

The federal government’s $30-million multi-media ad campaign to advise Canadians about how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 begins today.

The ads, two in English and two in French, feature Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, once again urging Canadians to keep their distance from one another and to practice good personal hygiene.

Tomorrow, Parliament will resume so the House of Commons can debate and pass emergency legislation to help Canadians cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Proposals would, among other things, allow the government to make changes to employment insurance benefits as well as extend support to people who don’t qualify for EI. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also promised more financial aid in the coming days and weeks.

Canada pulls athletes from Olympics

CANADA – The Canadian government has decided to pull its athletes from the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.

As the pandemic continues to surge globally, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee issued joint statements Sunday evening (March 22) saying they refuse to send their teams to Tokyo unless the games are pushed back and are advocating for a year.

Ontario to create 50,000 daycare spaces for healthcare workers

ONTARIO – The Ontario government is working to provide some 50,000 childcare spaces to allow healthcare workers to continue to battle on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the new policy less than a week after all childcare centres in the province were ordered to close when the government declared a state of emergency.

Minister Lecce said centres could provide up to 50,000 spaces by the end of the week but will be required to follow existing health and safety requirements when it comes to COVID-19.

The centres will also be required to limit the number of children they care for at one time, he added.

“This is an important step to enable our frontline workers to focus exclusively on saving lives and preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Lecce said, noting the service will be free.

The decision comes as Ontario Public Health (OPH) reported nearly 50 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total in the province to 425.

On Saturday night, the province announced it was issuing a new order under its emergency declaration giving hospitals the ability to cancel and postpone services to redeploy resources and staff quickly.

The government said the order will specifically give hospitals the power to redeploy staff to different locations in a facility including to COVID-19 assessment centres.

It will also allow a hospital to defer or cancel staff vacations or leaves.

“While normal protocols are important in routine times, these extraordinary steps will ensure our health sector workers are there, where and when they are needed, to care for Ontarians and support our extensive efforts to contain this virus,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones released in a statement. 

The Ontario Hospital Association urged people to take physical distancing and self-isolation measures seriously, especially in light of many people returning from March break vacations

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest public health threat in Ontario’s history,” OHA President Anthony Dale said. “The decisions all of us make today to prevent its spread and protect the most vulnerable will be the legacy we leave to future generations.”

Real Estate associations for Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area are calling on realtors to stop holding open houses during the pandemic.

“If a client has an urgent need to sell or buy a home during the COVID-19 crisis, there are other real estate tools that realtors can use for showing a property including virtual tours,” Ontario Real Estate Association Presiden Sean Morrison released in a statement.

Morrison said he understands that realtors will still receive requests from clients to hold open houses anyway, but he’s advising them to encourage homeowners to reconsider.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board echoed those concerns and said it will not enforce their rule which says that a listed home must be available for open houses and inspections.

“We’re at a critical phase with this pandemic and we all have to do our part to be successful in confronting this challenge,” board president Michael Collins said.

Rogers pledges one million meals

CANADA – Rogers Canada will donate one million meals to families across Canada as part of an initiative to support food banks across the counry.

“As the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic deepens, the need for food for many Canadians becomes an ever growing concern,” Rogers staff released in a statement. “While providing food to those in need can be difficult at the best of times, the COVID-19 outbreak has made that task even harder.”

Food Banks Canada – which directly supports 650 food banks across the country – says it needs to raise $150-million to help fund the need for food for at least the next 90 days.

“While there is always a need, the increased demands of COVID-19 has made helping the most vulnerable people in our communities that much harder,” Food Banks Canada CEO Chris Hatch said, who noted there is just a two week supply of food left at many banks.

Rogers is stepping in to assist the national organization by donating one-million meals to families across Canada while also leveraging the power of its television, radio and digital assets to raise awareness of the urgent need to help fill the shelves through a national campaign.

“During these challenging times, we all want to find ways of helping one another. Nobody should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from,” Rogers President and CEO Joe Natale said. “Partnering with Food Banks Canada is one way our Rogers family of 25,000 team members can help. We hope to encourage fellow Canadians and other corporations to contribute in any way they can. Together we can all do our part to make these uncertain times a little easier.”

Canadians who can are asked to make a contribution of any size to to help them reach their goal.

Donations will support Food Banks Canada to provide local food banks with the resources they need to adapt their client delivery processes in light of physical distancing, manage demand with a decrease in volunteer resources, purchase much needed staples and help clients in quarantine situations by providing essential food supports to them at home.

“We are very appreciative that our friends at Rogers have helped lean in and support us during this crisis,” said Hatch. “Every action matters now more than ever, as we try to put our collective arms around this growing, essential need.”


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