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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, April 17 –



Recent developments:

What’s happening today?

With gatherings banned and most events cancelled or postponed, this year’s Canada Day party will be moving online, the federal government has announced.

Parts of Ottawa’s Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Bank Street Bridge are closing to vehicles starting this weekend to help people in the area get outside.

The outside lanes of the Bank Street Bridge over the Rideau Canal are now closed to vehicle traffic to give pedestrians and cyclists more space. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

After more than a month of physical distancing, Ottawa Public Health is talking to politicians and health-care partners about what loosening up could look like, but still hasn’t released a timeline of when measures could end.

Distancing could last for months to avoid a resurgence; August or beyond is the opinion of one local top doctor.

WATCH: Easter Saturday drone video of downtown Ottawa

This footage, shot by freelance videographer Peter Warren, shows empty downtown streets on Easter weekend as the COVID-19 pandemic has residents staying in their homes. 2:53

How many cases are there?

There are now 728 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa and more than 1,325 in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

The deaths of 32 people in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties and two more in the wider region have also been tied to COVID-19.

The vast majority of the deaths are seniors. 

From what we know, nearly 400 people out of that regional total have recovered, but most local health units don’t share that data.

Confirmed cases represent only a fraction of the actual number because of limited testing.

Distancing and isolating

Physical distancing remains in effect: avoiding non-essential trips, working from home, cancelling all gatherings and staying at least two metres away from anyone you don’t live with.

Volunteers of the Odawa Native Friendship Centre’s Bannock Bus Outreach program hand out coffee and food to those in need in downtown Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Anyone who has symptoms, travelled recently outside Canada or, specifically in Ottawa, is waiting for a COVID-19 test result must self-isolate for at least 14 days.

In Ontario, anyone in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is presumed to have COVID-19 must also self-isolate for 14 days.

Ontario also recommends people older than 70 and those with compromised immune systems or underlying health issues go into voluntary self-isolation. 

How daily life is changing

Quebec has banned non-essential travel into and through the Outaouais.

Municipal parks are only open to walk through, provincial and national parks are closed and authorities are watching for gatherings in many communities.

WATCH: The toll on mental health under physical distancing measures

Vera Etches, Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health, is encouraging residents to practice “positive coping strategies,” such as exercising and talking with friends and family remotely. 0:59

Ottawa has cancelled event permits and closed many facilities until July. Quebec has asked organizers to cancel events until September.

Schools in Ontario and Quebec are closed until at least May and non-essential businesses should be closed. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

They range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, most commonly fever, fatigue and a dry cough.

Recently added symptoms include a sore throat, runny nose and less common symptoms such as unexplained fatigue, nausea, or loss of taste or smell.

Older people, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical problems are more likely to develop serious problems.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

WATCH: Slowing of COVID-19 infections gives health-care system some ‘breathing room,’ 

Doug Manuel, a data scientist at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, says cases of COVID-19 have yet to peak in Ottawa but the rate of infection is slowing, giving officials some “breathing room” to develop a strategy for loosening restrictions. 1:04

The coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People can be contagious without having symptoms.

The germs can also spread through close, prolonged contact, such as handshaking, and via surfaces such as door handles, phones and light switches.

Where to get tested

Anyone concerned they have COVID-19 in Ontario can fill out its online assessment tool. 

There’s also Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000; be prepared for wait times.

Ottawans with symptoms and who meet certain criteria can get tested at the Brewer Arena. 

It’s open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. You don’t have to call ahead.

People with mild or moderate symptoms can also visit clinics in Bells Corners or Alta Vista weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The assessment centre at the Kingston Memorial Centre is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for anyone with symptoms.

The public health unit in the Belleville area is asking people only call it at 613-966-5500 if they still have questions after the province’s self-assessment.

Same for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark‘s unit at 1-800-660-5853 extension 2499.

It has testing sites by referral from a family doctor or the health unit only in Almonte and Smiths Falls, a walk-in site in Brockville at the Memorial Centre and a home test service for people in care or with mobility challenges.

A pedestrian walks past a boarded up business in downtown Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

There are drive-thru test centres in Casselman and Hawkesbury without needing to call ahead and others in Rockland, Winchester and Cornwall with a referral.

Vulnerable people can call 613-933-1375 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to ask about a home test.

Renfrew County is also providing home testing under some circumstances.

Anyone who doesn’t have or can’t reach a family doctor can call its new primary health-care centre at 1-844-727-6404 if they have any health questions.

Residents of Renfrew County don’t have to lose sleep when they can’t reach their family doctors during this time. 8:37

In western Quebec:

Outaouais residents should call 819-644-4545 if they have a cough or fever, whether they’ve travelled or not. You could be referred to Gatineau’s testing centre.

If your symptoms require a trip to the ER, call ahead if you can to let them know your travel history.

WATCH: How Ottawa could turn to other countries for examples of ‘a new normal’ 

Austria, where new infections have declined, could provide a preview of how best to reopen businesses and relax COVID-19 restrictions. Erich Striessnig, with the Vienna Institute for Demography in Austria, says it’s vital that governments maintain public trust in the process. 1:40

First Nations communities

Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.

With a confirmed case in the American part of Akwesasne, anyone returning from farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Anyone in Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte who has symptoms can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse.

Pikwakanagan’s new council has ordered all businesses to close.

Kitigan Zibi has postponed a June election.

For more information

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Doctor linked to Campbellton COVID-19 cluster says he made 'an error in judgment' –



The doctor at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Campbellton, N.B., area says he’s not sure whether he picked up the coronavirus during a trip to Quebec or from a patient in his office.

Dr. Jean Robert Ngola made the comments to Radio-Canada’s program La Matinale on Tuesday morning — his first media interview since the emergence of 13 new cases in the northern New Brunswick health region starting May 21. Before then, it had been two weeks since the province had an active case.

Ngola has been suspended by the Vitalité Health Network, one of the province’s two regional health authorities, and the province has asked the RCMP to investigate to determine whether charges are warranted.

He said he decided to speak out because he’s become the target of racist verbal attacks daily and false reports to police, and he feels abandoned by public health officials.

Ngola, who is also known as Dr. Ngola Monzinga, has been working as a doctor in Campbellton since 2013. He previously practised in Europe and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr. Jean-Robert Ngola practises at the Campbellton Regional Hospital in northern New Brunswick. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

He said he did not self-isolate after returning from an overnight return trip to Quebec to pick up his four-year-old daughter. Her mother had to travel to Africa for her father’s funeral.

“What was I supposed to do?” he said in French. “Leave her there alone?”

Ngola said he drove straight there and back with no stops and had no contact with anyone. He said none of his family members had any COVID-19 symptoms at the time.

He returned to work at the Campbellton Regional Hospital the next day.

“Maybe it was an error in judgment,” said Ngola, pointing out that workers, including nurses who live in Quebec, cross the border each day with no 14-day isolation period required.

“Who hasn’t made an error in judgment?” he said. “That’s why I have compassion towards everyone.”

What he told border officials unclear

On May 27, Premier Blaine Higgs announced a COVID-positive “medical professional” in their 50s had travelled to Quebec for personal reasons, was “not forthcoming” about the reasons for their trip upon returning to New Brunswick and “did not self-isolate as a result.”

The medical professional then returned to work at the Campbellton Regional Hospital for two weeks, Higgs had told reporters, describing it as “irresponsible.”

“If you ignore the rules, you put your family, your friends and your fellow New Brunswickers at risk,” Higgs said at the time.

Twelve of the province’s 13 cases have been linked to the travel-related case to date, according to Public Health officials.

The policy for any health-care workers who travel outside the province for any reason is to self-isolate for 14 days, New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has said. “It is mandatory.”

Compliance officers stop and question anyone entering New Brunswick as part of the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Ngola did not say during the morning interview what he told officials at the New Brunswick border about his reason for travel, or what they told him about requirements to self-isolate upon entering the province.

Nor did he indicate what, if any, followup he had from border officials.

When reached by phone later to clarify, Ngola said he was on the other line with his lawyer and hung up. Repeated calls since then have gone straight to voicemail.

‘How many people are unwitting carriers?’

Ngola said he received a call from a public health official on May 25 informing him one of his patients had tested positive.

He has about 2,000 patients at his clinic, about 1,500 of them active.

Ngola had seen the man May 19 for a prescription renewal or something that did not require any touching or a physical exam. He said the man had no COVID-19 symptoms and was wearing a mask.

Ngola said he immediately called the patient, who had cold-like symptoms and was doing OK.

He said he cancelled his shift that night at the hospital and got a test for himself and his daughter. Neither of them were showing symptoms, but they both tested positive.

Ngola said he still doesn’t know how they were infected.

“Who can say? … The virus is circulating everywhere. … How many people are unwitting carriers?”

Hate messages pour in, doctor says

He said one hour after he spoke with hospital and public health officials about his contacts to facilitate the investigation and protect the public, his name, face and address were being advertised all over the internet as “the bad doctor who brought the virus to kill people.”

Ngola said that’s not who he is.

“I only have compassion towards sick patients … the role of doctors is to care, to heal, to help … not to spread viruses.”

There are 13 active in cases in the province — all in the Campbellton health region, known as Zone 5, including a new confirmed case announced on Tuesday.

The person in their 80s is a resident at the Manoir de la Vallée, the long-term care facility in Atholville where four other residents in the Alzheimer’s unit and a staff member have also tested positive.

The staff member, a female personal attendant, had social contact with Ngola on May 20, according to the facility’s owner, Dr. Guy Tremblay.

Five people are now in hospital, one of whom is in intensive care.

Accusatory calls from U.S., Africa, Europe

Ngola said he’s been looking into the people making hateful posts, and most are from outside the region. He said he feels they are trying to incite violence against him because he is black.

He said he’s been getting accusatory calls from people in the United States, Africa and Europe, and people are also making false reports about him to local police. 

Ngola said he is not pleased with the way he’s being treated by public officials.

“I’m a patient. I have a right to confidentiality, to protection from the system.”

Health authority CEO appeals for calm

Gilles Lanteigne, the chief executive officer of the Vitalité Health Network, said he was aware of Ngola’s public statements, but could not comment on human resources matters, citing privacy.

“We understand that the situation is difficult for all parties involved and we sympathize with the people who are affected by this affair, either directly or indirectly,” he said in an emailed statement.

“I would like to appeal to everyone to remain calm in these difficult times.  It is more important than ever to show respect, tolerance and compassion for one another. This is how we will get through this crisis and come out of it stronger.”

Public Health officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ngola said he remains devoted to serving the community.

“I have a family. I have a right to live. Please, I’m not a criminal.”

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Family says 'back and forth' between N.S. and Ottawa over shooting probe 'unreal' – Medicine Hat News



By Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press on June 1, 2020.

Heather O’Brien is shown in a handout photo from the GoFundMe page “Support for the O’Brien Family.” Heather O’Brien was among the victims of the mass killings in Nova Scotia. A Nova Scotia family is making a passionate appeal for the federal and Nova Scotia governments to end the “back and forth” over who leads a public inquiry into the province’s mass shooting. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-GoFundMe MANDATORY CREDIT

HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia family is making a passionate appeal for the federal and Nova Scotia governments to end the “back and forth” over who leads a public inquiry into the province’s mass shooting.

Darcy Dobson, the daughter of a licensed practical nurse who was among the 22 victims, says in the open letter that she, her father Andrew and her five siblings “formally request the start of a public inquiry into the mass shooting on April 18 and 19.”

Dobson’s mother, Heather O’Brien of Truro, N.S., was killed by the gunman on April 19 as she drove along a highway in Debert, N.S.

The letter notes that with few answers provided more than 40 days after the tragedy, families aren’t able to heal properly, and she adds “the amount of information being kept from us is deplorable.”

Premier Stephen McNeil has said he wants Ottawa to lead a public inquiry because the areas of key jurisdiction – such as the protocols followed by the RCMP – are federal.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t committed his government to overseeing an inquiry, saying only it will “work with the government of Nova Scotia” to get answers.

The letter from Dobson is signed by the entire O’Brien family and says, “the back and forth about who’s responsible for an inquiry is unreal.”

It says mistakes were made at both the provincial and federal levels: “We need answers, we need answers to heal, we need answers so we can find a way to live in this new normal that we’ve been forced into.”

The letter adds that authorities should be trying to learn from one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.

“What’s the hold up in the inquiry? Why hasn’t this happened yet? Where are we in the investigation? Was someone else involved? Why can’t we get any answers at all 40 days in?!” it asks.

“The fact that anyone of us has to ask these questions is all very concerning and only makes everyone feel, inadequate, unimportant and unsafe.

“Please for the people of our province, for the people of our country, for the people who have lost someone so dear to their hearts, find a way to let us start to heal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.

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1 new case of COVID-19 in N.B., with all 13 active cases located in the Campbellton region –



New Brunswick announced one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a person aged 80 to 89 “linked to” the Manior de la Vallee long-term care facility in Atholville, N.B.

There are 133 total cases in the province.

There are 13 active cases. All of them in the Campbellton area, known as Zone 5.

READ MORE: New Brunswick investigating after Peterborough councillor visited province despite border restrictions

Five patients are in hospital with one in intensive care. Six cases are from Manior de la Vallee, including at least one worker.

All active cases are linked to a Campbellton doctor who contracted the virus in Quebec and did not self-isolate upon his return to New Brunswick.

Health officials processed more than 2,000 tests for the second day in a row.

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Moncton real estate lowest in 15 years due to COVID-19 pandemic

Moncton real estate lowest in 15 years due to COVID-19 pandemic

Several locations in Campbellton hosted extra testing sites on the weekend as officials tried to curb the spread of the virus in the current outbreak, which began May 21.

The total number of tests conducted in the province now sits at 30,666.

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“We are pleased to see how all our partners have come together to help us manage the situation,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, in a government news release.

“We have 14 days ahead of us to see how things unfold. In the meantime, I ask New Brunswickers to continue to demonstrate their compassion, kindness and patience throughout the province.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick investigating after Peterborough councillor visited province despite border restrictions

Of the 133 total number of confirmed cases:

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  • 69 are travel-related
  • 53 are close contacts of confirmed cases
  • 10 are the result of community transmission
  • 1 remains under investigation
  • 18 people have been hospitalized; 13 have since been discharged
  • 120 are considered recovered

Zone 5 remains in the Orange phase of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The rest of the province is in the third, Yellow phase.

A number of businesses were scheduled to open the week in an advanced stage of the Yellow phase, but those plans were delayed until at least June 5 because of the outbreak in Campbellton.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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