As the COVID-19 situation in Canada continues to evolve, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has stepped up to explain what’s going on when it comes to public health rules and advice.

On October 3, just days after Premier Doug Ford announced updated restrictions in Ontario, the capital’s health agency wrote a lengthy Twitter thread addressing some key concerns.

The reason for the information-filled thread, the agency explained, is because “we've hit a critical point” in the pandemic.

The explanation was shared on the same day that Ottawa reported 142 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours — the highest daily figure ever reported by the city.

Acknowledging the severity of the situation, the agency began the series of messages with, “Threads were intended for major shifts. Things that couldn't be explained in 1 tweet.”

“We'd planned to use one every 6-7 weeks. But this is our third thread in a month,” OPH said.

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What is the situation right now?

The situation right now, according to Ottawa Public Health, is pretty worrying.

Explaining that the local health care system is “in crisis," the agency said “labs are working beyond capacity causing dangerous backlogs, which affects our contact tracing & case management.”

They also said hospitals are “nearing capacity,” made worse by the fact that outbreaks continue to occur in long term care facilities.

Such spikes are overloading the system so much that they “can't handle much more.”

“We know this will scare you, but that's not our intention,” they wrote.

Instead, OPH explained that they’re attempting to be “transparent” so that Canadians can understand the severity of the situation.

Why do the COVID-19 rules keep changing?

In their lengthy thread, Ottawa Public Health admitted that the constantly changing rules can be confusing.

The agency acknowledged that some information, such as self-screening guidelines, back-to-school advice and social gathering rules, keeps shifting.

“From your perspective, it might feel like we keep shifting our guidelines,” the agency said.

However, they noted, “that’s what we should be doing.”

They said that shifting guidance based on new evidence is much better than just sticking with old advice “in the name of being consistent.”

They described the situation, on their end, as “trying to build the plane while we’re flying it.”

A little later, they added, “But that plane ...? It's in big trouble.”

What will happen next?

When it comes to what happens next, OPH said they’re doing what they can to improve the situation.

“On our end, labs & hospitals are increasing capacity, we're training more case managers & further LTC rules are being implemented,” they said.

The agency reiterated the importance of the public continuing following the most recent guidelines, despite the ongoing changes.

"You just have to do it," they said.

“We know you're tired. So are we. We haven't slowed from this relentless pace in 7 months. But we're still here, and we're not going anywhere,” Ottawa Public Health concluded.

On October 3, the city reported 82 new cases of COVID-19.

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