Oct. 17 COVID-19 update: Five school outbreaks cleared, Optimistic fall, QR passports, QCH staff placed on leave

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reports five school outbreaks of COVID-19 have been cleared in the last three days and it’s seeing fewer active cases in the city overall.

Another outbreak has been cleared in a childcare centre as of yesterday, (Oct. 16), which leaves five schools on outbreak status and two community outbreaks being monitored by OPH. The community cases stem from one office and one ‘services’ workplace.

The health unit is confirming 24 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa yesterday. There have been 226 new cases over the last seven days. 

OPH has confirmed 117 new Delta variant cases in the last 30 days.

The number of active cases the health unit is tracking is down to 257. That figure was at 338 one week ago.

There are six people in local hospitals with COVID-19 with five in intensive care.

No new COVID-19-related deaths are being reported in the capital, which leaves the local pandemic toll at 601.

According to OPH’s vaccination dashboard, 85 per cent of all residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 89 per cent have had at least one shot.

The rate of infection among Ottawa’s unvaccinated vaccine-eligible population is 11 times higher than it is for the fully vaccinated population. The local rate of infection per 100,000 residents for those vaccinated against the virus is at 11, whereas the rate for those unvaccinated (or vaccinated with one dose under 14 days) is 125.2. The rate per 100,000 residents for those who are waiting for their second shot is 55.4.

Ottawa residents being tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa are seeing positive results 1.9 per cent of the time.

Ontario is reporting 486 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths on Saturday. The province says 329 of those cases are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or who have an unknown vaccination status. 

There have been 30,451 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa (29,593 resolved) since March of 2020.

Chief medical officer of health ‘cautiously optimistic’ about fall

OTTAWA – Ottawa chief medial officer of health Dr. Vera Etches is cautiously optimistic about the fall given climbing COVID-19 vaccination rates in the city; the low number of hospitalizations due to the virus; and a vaccine coming soon for children between the ages of five and 11.

The doctor addressed Ottawa parents in a letter on Friday (Oct. 15), asking for continued cooperation to keep kids, and their families safe from COVID-19 as the city gets deeper in to fall and people spend more time indoors.

Part of that means limiting close contacts.

The other part will be getting eligible children vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Ottawa Public Health anticipates announcements from the federal and provincial governments in the coming weeks that will make COVID-19 vaccine available for children aged five to 11.

“I know families will have questions about the vaccines and we are working with community partners to make sure that you have all the information you need when COVID-19 vaccines are available for your children,” Etches said. “Planning is underway, and we will be ready to offer approved vaccines when they are supplied to us. I urge everyone who is eligible for their COVID-19 vaccine to get fully vaccinated. This will help to protect you, your family, and the community. The higher the vaccination rates are in our community, the better chance we have of protecting those around us and keeping COVID-19 levels in the community and schools low.”

Ottawa’s vaccination goal is at least 90 per cent of its eligible population inoculated. 

“Vaccination can also help to reduce the burden on families; it helps parents and guardians get to work and students stay in class. When parents, guardians and students are fully vaccinated, they most often do not need to isolate after being exposed to COVID-19,” Etches said.

For more information on COVID-19 testing centres, vaccine clinics and what parents can do when an outbreak is declared at their child’s school, visit ottawapublichealth.ca.

QR vaccination passports ready this week

ONTARIO – Ontarians who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 can start downloading new QR codes this week, which officials say will allow for faster entry into settings that require proof of vaccination.

The enhanced system officially takes effect Oct. 22, but Ontarians can get their new scannable vaccine certificates before then, and businesses can already start using a new app to scan those codes.

Premier Doug Ford, who has said he implemented a proof-of-vaccination system reluctantly, stressed again Friday it’s necessary but temporary.

“We ask that everyone continue to demonstrate the same co-operation and understanding that has gotten us this far, and to focus on what these temporary measures mean to us,” Ford said.  “They mean we can allow businesses the comfort to keep operating safely. They mean we can continue getting back to doing things we want without losing the gains we’ve made. And they mean we have the best chance to avoid being forced back into lockdowns that nobody wants.” 

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has said vaccine certificates will be in effect at least until after any transmission that takes place over winter holiday gatherings can be assessed. 

But Ford said with daily case counts declining and hospital metrics stable, he will announce a plan next week for how and when to lift further public health restrictions, such as capacity limits on restaurants.

Under Ontario’s vaccine certificate program, only those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or have a valid medical exemption from a doctor, can access certain settings, such as theatres, gyms, nightclubs and restaurant dining rooms.

On Friday (Oct. 15), residents whose birthdays fall between January and April were able to download the enhanced vaccination certificate through the province’s COVID-19 website. Further cohorts are set to get access each day until everyone will be able to download it on Monday.

The government said it is working on developing functions that will let people add their new vaccine certificate with the QR code to their Apple or Android wallets, but for now, people can save a screen shot to their photos or add it to files as a PDF.

Businesses can download an app called Verify Ontario that will scan the QR codes, and if the patron is fully vaccinated, the business will see a checkmark and the person’s name and date of birth, to be checked against their ID.

Verify Ontario doesn’t store information, and can work without being connected to the internet, though officials say it should periodically be online so it can download updates. It collects basic Google analytics information, such as how many times it is used, but the data is anonymized, officials say.

Organizations and businesses requiring proof of vaccination will still need to also accept vaccine receipts currently in use and won’t be required to use Verify Ontario. 

The app will also be able to read other provinces’ vaccine certificate QR codes, including those from British Columbia and Quebec.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government is working on a process to embed medical exemptions in the app, involving public health units verifying the exemptions.

“That’s going to take a little bit of time, we don’t have an exact date for that, but it’s going to be up to the individuals to take that information once they get their medical exemption to their local public health unit,” she said.

More than 87 per cent of eligible Ontarians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 83 per cent have both doses.

More than three dozen QCH employees placed on unpaid leave

KANATA – Thirty-seven employees at the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) will be placed on unpaid leave for failing to comply with the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.

The hospital in Ottawa’s west end announced Friday (Oct. 15) afternoon 98 per cent of staff are fully vaccinated and complying with the new policy for staff.

“Team QCH has done a good job of getting vaccinated,” the QCH released in a statement. “Unfortunately, a few members of our team have made the personal decision not to get vaccinated. We need to be compassionate toward these team members, but we also need to uphold the highest safety standards.”

Under the QCH’s vaccination policy, all staff must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, with the exception of those with a documented medical or other human rights exemption.

The QCH says of the 37 employees placed on unpaid leave, only five are full-time staff.

There are 11 nurses being placed on unpaid leave, including two full-time nurses.

“We value each and every member of our team and don’t want to see any leave,” the QCH said. “We are hopeful they reconsider their decision so that they can remain employed at Queensway Carleton Hospital. For the few choosing to leave, we thank them for their contributions and wish them well.”

Around 166 employees at Bruyère Continuing Care and CHEO have been or will be placed on unpaid leave for failing to comply with COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

Ottawa’s Bruyere announced early Friday afternoon that 119 employees are now on unpaid leave for failing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

CHEO says 47 employees have been suspended without pay for violating the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The Ottawa Hospital says 99.6 per cent of physicians, and 95 per cent of all staff are fully vaccinated.

The Montfort Hospital says it will release statistics on COVID-19 vaccination rates among staff next week.

Possible exposure to COVID-19 at 613LIFT Ltd. 

NEPEAN – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is currently investigating two individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and attended 613LIFT located at 80 Jamie Ave. in Ottawa while contagious the City of Ottawa released in a statement Saturday (Oct. 16).

All clients who attended the fitness facility during the following time periods are advised [ they may have been exposed to COVID-19: 

  • Sunday, Oct. 3 between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. 
  • Friday, Oct. 8 between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. 
  • Saturday, Oct. 9 between noon and 3 p.m. 

“OPH has assessed the nature of this event and determined that individuals who attended 613LIFT are at an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure as there were several opportunities for transmission to occur,” OPH released in a statement yesterday (Oct. 6). “If you attended this facility during the above dates and times, monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days following your most recent attendance during one of these time periods and follow these instructions:”

If you  develop any COVID-19 symptoms, you should immediately self-isolate and seek testing even if you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  A list of testing sites in Ottawa is available on our website. When you present for testing, please provide the following testing number: OTT-2021-263.  

If you are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to seek testing or isolate unless otherwise notified by Ottawa Public Health. 

If you have further questions, you may call Ottawa Public Health to speak with a public health nurse at 613-580-6744.  

Visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVID19 to learn more about COVID-19, how you can protect yourself and others and what to do if you suspect you may be infected with the virus.  

“While OPH not typically disclose the location of possible COVID-19 exposures to protect individuals’ privacy, this information is disclosed when needed to meet public health objectives such as prompt notification of potential contacts and reducing the risk of further transmission,” OPH said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email