As more and more cases of COVID-19 continue to be diagnosed in Ontario, Ottawa’s medical officer of health has suggested it’s “just a matter of time” until the virus arrives in the capital. While Dr. Vera Etches urged locals not to panic, she advised stocking up on essentials. There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ottawa, but more than 50 people have already been tested.

Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, an Ottawa Public Health (OPH) doctor discussed the chances of COVID-19 arriving in the city.

After briefing Mayor Jim Watson, Dr. Vera Etches explained, "I would say it certainly is probably just a matter of time until we get a case in Ottawa related to travel.”

While she assured residents of the capital that things remained “business as usual” for OPH and the City of Ottawa, Etches did suggest taking some precautions.

"We say all the time, you need to be prepared for a winter storm, you need to be prepared for a power outage, and it's the same idea. People don't always take that step of making sure their cupboards aren't bare, right?"

As travellers coming into the city continue to be tested for the virus, Etches explained that it’s worth anticipating the day that a screening is found to be positive. “We want to make sure that we’re prepared to limit the transmission of the infection if it is here.”

These comments come as Canada's total number of confirmed cases reached 24 last week.

Concerned Canadians have been buying out local Costco stores, and stockpiling supplies in preparation for an outbreak.

OPH tweeted a list of  “practical things” people could do to prepare for possible cases in the community. It included washing hands, not touching your face, and staying home if you become unwell.

In response to COVID-19 fears, two Ottawa schools have also cancelled upcoming international trips.

Merivale High School has cancelled a vacation to Italy, while Broadview Public School has dropped a planned trip to South Korea.

This comes as the government stepped up its Italy travel statement, which now urges Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to the country.

You can keep up-to-date with information about coronavirus in Ottawa by using OPH’s dedicated website.

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