There could be thousands of cases of novel coronavirus in the capital. Speaking on Sunday, the city’s top doctor confirmed that there is now community transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa. This means that there could be up to 4,000 current cases of the virus, with the potential for even more to be diagnosed.

Speaking to the media and the public on Sunday afternoon, Dr. Vera Etches confirmed that there is community transmission of novel coronavirus in Ottawa, and therefore residents need to take extra precautions.

All interactions with others should be treated as a potential source of transmission, even if nobody feels or appears to be ill, the Medical Officer of Health explained.

While on Sunday there were only 27 confirmed and pending cases of the virus in the city, Dr. Etches noted that the actual number of people could be much higher.

She stated that, based on modelling data and the rate of transmission, “We now estimate there may be up to 4,000 cases of COVID-19 in our community.”

“Because most cases are mild and undetected, I want to emphasize the importance that everyone needs to treat all interactions with others as a potential source of transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Etches.

Community transmission is when a confirmed case cannot be traced to a different person or country, Etches explained.

In Ottawa, five of the new confirmed cases have no travel history, no link to somebody who’s recently travelled, and no known contact with another COVID-19 patient.

“At this time, I’m asking that all people ensure they are practicing social-distancing, to the greatest extent they can,” she urged.

“The doubling time, we’re seeing is sometimes down to three days, every three days now. By this time next week, it could be 16,000 cases” Etches added.

Responding to this latest update, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson also urged locals to stay at home.

Taking to Twitter, the mayor wrote, “In light of today’s news from Vera Etches on cases of community transmission, the need to practice Social Distancing is essential.”

If you're worried about COVID-19 symptoms, the Government of Canada has created an online self-assessment tool, which aims to give next-step advice to anybody who's concerned.

You can find it by clicking here.

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