Community Update from Ottawa Public Health

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April 16 Update

As you likely have seen or heard, effective Monday, April 19, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is limiting the capacity of weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 10 people indoors or outdoors. Social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions are prohibited, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Drive-in services will be permitted.

The provincial government also intends to implement additional public health and workplace safety measures effective Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. Please see the Provincial news release here for more details: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/61192/ontario-strengthens-enforcement-of-stay-at-home-order

Before this change takes effect, we continue to ask that you please ensure that your congregations follow all public health measures both inside and outside the mosque if attending in-person services (physical distancing, masking – indoors and outdoors, washing hands frequently, and staying home if one is ill and getting tested). This includes relaying that people should wear their masks when exiting the building, and that they cannot gather outside, in the parking lot or at their cars after prayers.

Nevertheless, and as we have said previously, OPH continues to recommend faith settings consider alternatives to in-person services (e.g. virtual services), where possible, to reduce the risks of transmission. OPH also continues to advise that nobody should gather with anyone from outside their households.


April 15 Update

As you have likely heard, the situation in Ottawa is dire, with case counts and hospitalization rising at an alarming rate. It continues to be extremely important that our residents keep following public health measures and protect themselves and their families from transmission. We will continue to monitor the situation both locally and provincially, and as always, communicate any shifts or pivots that may be needed. Thank you for your on-going partnership, and your willingness to be flexible and nimble. 

While we understand that it is tradition to visit and celebrate with family, friends and neighbours during Ramadan, OPH is urging residents observing this holiday to continue celebrating in meaningful ways, but to do it in ways that reduce risks and keep everyone as safe as possible. Create new traditions this year – break fasts with those outside of your household virtually. Instead of visiting loved ones, send Ramadan messages through text or video calls.  

All individuals should assess their own level of risk and the health of every person in their household, when deciding how to celebrate. If anyone in your household is at higher risk from COVID-19, everyone should choose lower risk activities to keep them safe.  Until the vast majority of our community is vaccinated, staying home and celebrating with immediate households only will protect vulnerable family and friends and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.   

You may have also heard about additional public health measures that are being considered and worked through for outdoor spaces (e.g. masks at amenities in outdoor parks where a lack of distancing and masking have been observed). These are aimed to protect our residents. Stay tuned for more information about this. 

Stay-at-Home Order 

A Provincial stay-at-home order is in effect. A reminder that under this order, everyone should stay home and limit how much time they spend outside of their house and to leave only for essential purposes such as: 

·        Accessing grocery stores or pharmacy,  

·        Accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated) 

·        Outdoor exercise 

·        Work that cannot be done remotely 

As well, people should not be traveling between regions for non-essential reasons and as much as possible, remain in their local community.  

Schools to remain closed after the April Break 

To protect students and staff and to slow community transmission, the Province announced earlier this week their decision to move elementary and secondary schools to remote learning following the April break. This move has been made in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the massive spike in hospital admissions.  

Childcare for non-school aged children will remain open during the school closure however, Before and After school programs will be closed (unless they are Emergency Child Care sites). 

The challenge is trying to balance the need to decrease community transmission and the impacts of school closures on families and communities. We know it’s not going to be easy, and that maintaining the mental health and social and emotional well-being of everyone is important. Remember to pause, reflect and reconnect – reach out to those who may need support. Check in with your children – talk to them and ask how they are doing. Listen and acknowledge their feelings and try to give them accurate information for their age. Here are some tips to help children cope. Lastly, don’t forget about yourself – It’s natural to feel stressed and be concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 but know that there are many Mental Health Resources for Diverse Communities available to support everyone during this challenging time. 

Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa 

Are you experiencing these symptoms?  

·        Fever (temperature of 37.8°C/100.0°F or greater) 

·        Cough (that is new or worsening (e.g. continuous, more than usual if chronic cough) or 

·        Shortness of breath. 

Those are some of the common symptoms of COVID-19. If you have any of the symptoms stay home and get tested. Visit Ottawa Public Health for information on updated information on COVID-19 testing and where to go to get tested

 

Remember to complete screening before attending in-person services 

OPH continues to recommend that Places of Worship consider alternatives to in-person services (e.g. virtual services), where possible, to reduce the risks of transmission.  

We all have a responsibility to assess the risks to ourselves, our families and others when deciding to attend in-person services (e.g. at a mosque). Anyone planning on attending in-person services, including children, must be screened upon arrival or prior to their entry to a Place of Worship and each time they attend services. Individuals should not attend if they have any of the following: 

·        has any of the symptoms of COVID-19

·        has come in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or a person with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 during the past 14 days, or  

·        has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days. 

A reminder that OPH has screening tools that are available in various languages. Places of Worship can also use screening posters to help facilitate the screening process. For those who do not have a mobile device, the QR codes can be paired with a hard copy questionnaire.  If anyone is feeling sick, please remember to stay at home and get tested for COVID-19. 

Staff and volunteers must be screened daily before starting their duties. Screening for attendees, staff and volunteers can be done using OPH’s Screening Tool for Workplaces/Post-Secondary Institutions. If the screening tool indicates that someone should not attend in-person services and/or recommends the person be tested for COVID-19 (i.e., they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19), they must follow all instructions.


April 8 Update

Ontario Implements Province-Wide Stay-at-Home Order

Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely. The stay-at-home order will be in effect for four weeks.

What does this mean for your Place of Worship?

As per the Province’s COVID-19: enhanced public health and workplace safety measures, the following apply for weddings, funerals and other religious services, rites or ceremonies:

  • physical distancing must be maintained
  • guests must wear masks or face coverings
  • capacity limits:
    • indoors: 15% capacity of the room
    • outside: the number of people that can maintain two metres physical distance from each other

Receptions are not permitted indoors and are limited to 5 people outdoors.

Drive-in services, rites or ceremonies permitted, subject to certain conditions.

Virtual services permitted.

Please note that the 15% occupancy limit in a room is the maximum allowed indoors, and organizers must ensure that all in attendance can maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) between households (including essential supports). Places of Worship may choose to reduce the permitted occupancy limit based on their individual circumstances. OPH continues to advise that nobody should gather with anyone from outside their households.

Places of worship, faith leaders and attendees all have a responsibility to assess the risks associated with in-person services, and to develop a safety plan to mitigate these risks. These include implementing and adhering to measures to reduce the risk of infection among all those who participate in activities, including facility staff, faith leaders, volunteers and attendees.

Attendees are also responsible for assessing risks to themselves, their families and those associated with their participation. They are also responsible for following the measures put in place by a Place of Worship to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as well as adhering to the details of the setting’s safety plan.

Please note, we are also working to update our guidance for Places of Worship and thank you for your patience as we work through the updates.

Variants are in our communities

We are not dealing with the same virus that we started out with a year ago.   These variants bring with them an increase in the risk of ICU admission and death. The virus has changed, and until all of us are vaccinated, so must our behaviours.

Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect you and those around you from serious illnesses like COVID-19. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. This can reduce your risk of developing COVID-19 and make your symptoms milder if you do get it.

Follow the public health advice to stay home except for essential purposes, maintain physical distancing, wear a mask inside and outside, wash your hands, stay home when you’re sick and get tested. We need to stay vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

A message from The Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force

The CMCTF is proud to release a series on: Ramadan & COVID-19 Frequently Asked QuestionsHere are a few samples:

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information please visit: The Canadian Muslim COVID-19 task force website: cmcovidtf.com

 

Updates on Vaccine Eligibility

The Ontario government is moving into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with a focus on reaching individuals in “hot spot” communities where COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain neighbourhoods. In addition, this phase will prioritize individuals with the highest-risk health conditions.  Eligible groups in Phase Two include:

  • Adults aged 60 to 79, in 5-year increments
  • High-risk congregate settings (such as shelters, community living)
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers
  • Those who cannot work from home
  • At-risk populations

If you are eligible for a vaccine appointment, visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine to access the provincial booking system or call the provincial vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900 between 8 am and 8 pm, seven days a week.

Residents age 55 plus

As of April 1, 2021, select pharmacies across the province are booking appointments for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for eligible people ages 55 or older in 2021. To find a pharmacy near you, visit COVID-19.Ontario.ca/vaccine-locations to access the provincial booking system or call the provincial vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900 between 8 am and 8 pm, seven days a week.

It’s OK not to feel OK

Mental health and COVID resource list

The Mental health and COVID resource list includes the crisis lines and mental health

counselling agencies available in Ottawa. Please feel free to share with your community and to

refer your congregants to appropriate services.

 

Mental Health 101 training for faith leaders by Ottawa Public Health

Following a needs assessment survey conducted with faith leaders in the fall of 2020, the

Mental Health Team at Ottawa Public Health has developed a mental health & crisis prevention

training for faith leaders. The training has been delivered to Capital Region Interfaith Council

(CRIC) in February 2021 and the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa in March 2021. The Mental Health

Team at Ottawa Public Health would be delighted to offer this training to the council of Imams.

The session takes 1.5 hour.

Following the session, faith leaders will also have an opportunity to take part in suicide

prevention training. The objectives of the session are to discuss:

  1. Mental health and mental illness;
  2. Protective & risk factors;
  3. Mental health stigma;
  4. Crisis support and suicide prevention;
  5. Self-care among faith leaders;
  6. Mental health resources in Ottawa;
  7. Learning opportunities.

For more information about the training or to book a date please connect with manar.elmalmi@ottawa.ca


April 1 Update

As you have likely heard, more news will be released today with respect to the level of public health measures required in Ottawa and/or the Province. After the Premier’s announcement, we will be working to provide clarity for Places of Worship, but this may take a little bit of time. We sincerely thank you for your patience as we work through some of the intricacies of the regulations. For further details you can also visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus for up-to-date information, including the current status of public health measures in Ottawa (i.e. which colour we’re in). 

 

Updates on Vaccine Eligibility  

Faith Leaders and Volunteers 

In an email that went out to all Places of Worship on March 30, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) shared that Faith leaders providing services that increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19 are now eligible to pre-register for a vaccination appointment. Faith volunteers that have direct contact with deceased persons or that provide care of body after death, for example bathing rituals, are also eligible for the vaccine.  

Please note that a Photo OHIP card is required to complete the online pre-registration tool.  

Residents age 70 and older 

As of 8 am Monday, March 29, all Ottawa residents age 70 and over (born in or before 1951) can begin booking appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are eligible for a vaccine appointment, visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine to access the provincial booking system or call the provincial vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900 between 8 am and 8 pm, seven days a week.  

Visit our website for more, as eligibility criteria is updated regularly. 

 

Question about vaccines 

We understand there are lots of questions about vaccines including from those who have received them and around vaccine effectiveness. The reality is, vaccine protection is not immediate, and can take up to several weeks for full protection. Two doses would provide the maximal protection but that most in our community will not receive their second dose for a few more months. Another reason why we need to stay vigilant by limiting contacts, remembering to always keep 2 metres (6 feet) distance from others, and that OPH recommends mask use at all times. 

The situation is constantly evolving, and we are still learning about how vaccines can prevent further transmission and protect those who received them. 

Please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVID19Vaccine for the most up to date information. 

 

Now available! Multilingual Videos and Resources on COVID-19 and Vaccines 

·        Myth Busting Video– Available in Arabic, Somali, Simplified Chinese, French and English 

·        Why I am Choosing the Vaccine Video – Available in Arabic, Somali, Simplified Chinese, Nepali, French and English.  

More COVID-19 information can be found in Arabic, Somali and Chinese and is also accessible in the links below: 

·        COVID-19 Arabic Portal – Ottawa Public Health 

·        COVID-19 Somali Portal – Ottawa Public Health 

·        COVID-19 Simplified Chinese Portal – Ottawa Public Health 

 

Staying the course until most of the community is vaccinated 

One of the biggest challenges with COVID-19 is the large percentage of asymptomatic infections, especially in the younger age groups. The rates in children and youth have climbed in recent weeks, and we have started to see younger people being admitted to the hospital. 

The number of outbreaks we are seeing in hospitals is high and causing pressure on a system already strained with trying to catch up on needed procedures previously delayed.  The more COVID-19 levels rise in Ottawa, the less the vaccinations will be able to push the rates down quickly. 

Let’s continue to stick to the basics over the next few months as the vaccination rollout continues. Wear a mask, keep distance between people outside our household and wash your hands, stay home if you are sick and get tested if you develop any symptoms. 

 

Together, we can reduce risks! 

There is still a lot we can do while remaining COVIDWise as long as everyone in the household is feeling well. Spend as much time outdoors as possible, wear a mask, and maintain distance. OPH strongly urges avoiding high-risked gatherings and with those outside of your household. Be sure to follow public health guidance so that we can reduce risks.


March 24 Update

Ottawa currently remains in the Red-Control zone of the Provincial framework with certain restrictions in place to reduce COVID-19 transmission: 

· Organized public events and social gatherings, where physical distancing can be maintained, is five people indoors and 25 people outdoors.  

· Religious ceremonies and gatherings, including weddings and funeral services, are still allowed but with more restrictions where physical distancing can be maintained to 30 per cent capacity of the room indoors, or 100 people outdoors. 

·Restaurants and gyms remain open but are restricted to a lower capacity limit, which can be seen here.

·Individual and team sport training is permitted, however games, scrimmages or other contacts are not allowed at this time. This also applies to places of worships that rent out spaces to the community. 

We understand that capacity limits can be frustrating for everyone and financial impacts it has on businesses. Now more than ever, local businesses need our support. Order takeout from a favorite restaurant, use curbside pickup or delivery services to help friends, family and neighbors keep their livelihoods intact during this challenging time.  

COVID-19 vaccines 

Around 75,000 COVID vaccine doses that will be made available to Ottawa residents over the next two weeks. As of March 22, the province expanded the vaccine eligibility criteria to adults 75 and up, or adults receiving chronic home care, and living in a rural community. Appointments can be booked online through the Provincial booking system or can call the Provincial vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900 between 8 am – 8 pm, and open seven days a week.  

Vaccinations will be available at four community clinics and in some rural communities. As more residents are vaccinated, a reminder that it is still important that everyone continues to follow public health measures and take actions to be COVIDwise

Volunteer Isolation Centre  

Ottawa has a Voluntary Isolation Centre for people who do not have access to an adequate shelter or cannot self-isolate safely in their own home. At no cost, people will have access to a hotel room where they can rest/recover and without the fear or anxiety of spreading the virus to others. We know how important it is to self-isolate, as it has proven to help reduce the risks of spreading the virus to other people, including those most vulnerable. 

Choosing to isolate at home? Visit ottawapublichealth.ca/self-isolate for more information, including tips on how to isolate safely. 

New Community Resource for Arabic and Somali Speaking Communities  

During the pandemic, it has become evident that some communities are significantly more impacted by the COVID-19 and face complex barriers to accessing social and health services and supports and are considered high-priority communities. The Ottawa Immigrant COVID-19 Resource Line (OICRL) is a new resource that aims to support the Somali and Arabic speaking communities in Ottawa to get a pulse on how the pandemic has affected them and to provide on-going support. 

The OICRL provides a direct link to Somali or Arabic speaking staff who are trained to respond to the immediate needs of the community and can share COVID-19 information including where to get tested for COVID-19, access to testing centers and support them for those who need to self-isolate and how to do it safely. The phone line will operate 7 days a week from 11 am to 7 pm. 

Call 1-844-833-1234 and Press 1 for Somali and Press 2 for Arabic (or Text).

 

March 12 Update

The latest trends in Ottawa

Ottawa remains in the Orange – Restrict zone of the Provincial framework. Having said that, rates are no longer decreasing, and we are close to “red” category thresholds. As all of us don’t yet have protection from the vaccines, we need to keep the protective measures currently in place to protect us from severe illness and death. Yes, vaccination of populations most at-risk is underway, and every day we’re turning another page on our COVID-19 story. But we’re not at the end yet. As we wait for more vaccines, we see the presence of more transmissible variants in the community.

All of us – including those who have been vaccinated – need to keep up with the measures we know stop transmission: sticking with your household contacts, maintaining a distance from others, wearing a mask and washing your hands. If you do decide to visit with people outside of your household, there are ways to reduce the risk of transmission: stay outdoors, maintain distance, wear a mask and keep visits short.

If you are contacted by a Public Health Nurse because you tested positive for COVID-19, or if you are a close contact of someone who tested positive, please adhere to the advice given to you. If you have questions or concerns, contact your Nurse. They are there to support you. Each time someone who is a high-risk contact stays isolated they are helping to prevent the COVID-19 rate from growing in our community.

Continue to do daily screening!

Thank you to all the parents and guardians that continue to perform daily screenings before sending children and youth to school. If your child, or anyone in the household, has one symptom of COVID-19, testing is strongly encouraged. Be sure to limit close contact with people outside of your household before/after school, as well as on weekends.

To business owners and managers of workplaces, THANK YOU as well for ensuring daily screening of all employees and screening of patrons accessing your services. By doing so, workplaces will be safer, and the risk of COVID-19 transmission is minimized.

Ottawa Vaccine Update:

  • As you may be aware, community pop-up vaccination clinics are being set up in communities where the risk is highest and has recently opened to additional neighbourhoods. Check to see if you are eligible for the vaccine and for an expanded list of neighbourhoods/categories of people added to the vaccine eligibility criteria.
  • Vaccine bookings are ONLY available for those who are eligible. Please do NOT call if you aren’t eligible.
  • Please visit the OPH COVID-19 Vaccine web page for more information to see if you live in an eligible neighbourhood or are represented by one of the eligible categories.