Thu. May 26th, 2022

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Ottawa parents should limit their children’s leisure activities, plan activities outside as much as possible and avoid sleeping, says Ottawa’s health officer Dr. Vera Etches.


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She offered the advice to parents Friday in a letter outlining what is needed to ensure children can continue to go to school in person this fall.

Etches said that while the pandemic situation is generally improving in the city, children aged five to 11 have the highest covid-19 numbers among all age groups.

On October 3, children in that age category in Ottawa had a weekly rate of 64.1 cases of COVID-19 per. 100,000 inhabitants, more than double the second-highest age group, which were young people aged 12 to 17, at a rate of 24.2. People over the age of 18 had a rate of 17.3.

It’s not unique to Ottawa — the provincial COVID-19 rates among five- to 11-year-olds are also high.

The rates reflect the fact that children under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated.


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A vaccine for that age group is now under review by Health Canada.

In his letter, Etche summarized ways in which parents can protect children and COVID-19 outbreaks in schools are minimized.

Her advice:

  • Limit the number of leisure activities involving different groups in close contact
  • Take activities outside as much as possible
  • Avoid “prolonged and unmasked indoor exposures”, such as sleeping
  • Keep socializing outside of school to “smaller groups”, making contact tracking easier if someone gets COVID-19

Since schools opened in the fall, Etches has mentioned that parents should consider limiting contacts and children’s leisure activities, but the advice she offered Friday was more specific.


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“I know it can be worrying to hear about COVID-19 cases in schools,” she wrote. “We need your help to keep outbreaks rare and limited so children and young people do not miss out on personal schooling by having to stay home after an exposure to COVID-19.”

Keeping children in school personally “makes such a difference to the well-being of children, young people and families,” wrote Etches. Last year, the school year was repeatedly interrupted by shifts to online learning at home as the province battled three pandemic waves.

Since classes resumed this fall, three Ottawa schools have been temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

There have been outbreaks at 37 schools. Most outbreaks have been limited to two or three students, Etches noted. But a few have been much larger. St. The Benedict School in Barrhaven identified 37 students with COVID-19, representing five percent of the students at the school.


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An outbreak is declared when there are signs that the virus has spread in the school.

Etches said, however, that “the data support that public health measures in schools limit the spread: When a person tests positive at a school, it usually stops there.”

Ottawa Public Health may recommend that a school be closed if officials suspect the virus exists in multiple classes.

Etser suggested that this does not necessarily mean that the virus was only spread in school and wrote that “… we find larger outbreaks can occur with several different introductions of COVID-19 in school from household and community sources.”

Etches said she remains cautiously optimistic about the pandemic outlook for the fall.

Vaccination rates are higher in Ottawa than the provincial average, and few people are in the hospital with severe COVID-19.


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“While many parents and guardians now have vaccination protection, it is still very important for families to continue to be careful and continue to choose actions that make COVID-19 transmission to children and adolescents less likely,” Etches wrote.

“The most common source of COVID-19 infections in children and adolescents is household members.

“Daily screening for COVID-19 symptoms, physical distancing, limiting the number of close contacts we have a mask on when we are indoors or in close contact with others, getting vaccinated if they are eligible, and staying home and staying tested when they are ill or identified as high-risk contact remains very important. ”

Etches said her goal was to get 90 percent of the eligible population vaccinated. Currently, 86 percent of eligible Ottawa residents are fully vaccinated against the 82 percent provincial average.

“Vaccination can also help reduce the burden on families; it helps parents and guardians get to work and the students stay in class, ”she wrote.

Students who are fully vaccinated generally do not need to isolate at home if they are exposed to anyone in school with COVID-19.



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