Advertisement

Coronavirus: Ottawa Public Health setting up self-isolation site with $4.7M in federal funds

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health, said Thursday the city will open a voluntary self-isolation site for anyone who tests positive for the novel coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

People in Ottawa with COVID-19 will soon have a designated site to self-isolate and to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus throughout their household thanks to a new site run by the public health unit and funding from the federal government.

Ottawa Public Health will run a voluntary self-isolation site at a local hotel for anyone who tests positive for the novel coronavirus starting on Dec. 21.

The stay is completely free and voluntary for any occupants, who will be referred to the site via OPH’s contact tracing and case management team. Transportation to and from the site will be provided by OPH, and all meals are included as part of the stay.

The 107-room site will run for the next six months and is funded through $4.7 million in contributions from the federal government.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video 'Prime Minister Trudeau meets with COVID-19 vaccine recipients in Ottawa' Prime Minister Trudeau meets with COVID-19 vaccine recipients in Ottawa
Prime Minister Trudeau meets with COVID-19 vaccine recipients in Ottawa – Dec 15, 2020

“This is going to be a welcome, secure, temporary home for people to self-isolate, especially those who cannot do so safely in their own home,” said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, at an online event announcing the new site on Thursday morning.

The self-isolation site will not provide health care to its occupants. Rather, Etches said the site will act as an “alternate home” to the roughly 80 per cent of people who test positive for the virus but do not require hospitalization.

Etches said the site is meant to be a place to “rest and recover” while taking away the “fear and anxiety of transmitting the virus to their loved ones.”

Similar models of self-isolation sites have been piloted with success in Toronto and Peel region, Etches said.

Story continues below advertisement

The new project comes directly from feedback OPH has heard from Ottawa residents, especially through the public health unit’s partners at the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership and community health centres.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Ottawa’s Black and racialized population, according to OPH data.

Read more: Report shines light on why Montreal’s racialized communities suffered more from COVID-19

In seeking to answer why these communities are hit harder in the pandemic, Etches and other local health experts have pointed to the social determinants of health. A lack of access to reliable transportation, nutrition and employment that doesn’t put workers at risk can compound and lead to higher rates of infection among Black and racialized Ottawans.

Housing density is another key factor — once the virus enters a home, it can be difficult to stem its spread without access to a place to self-isolate.

The voluntary self-isolation site, therefore, is an effort to keep the home safe while COVID-19 runs its course.

“Voluntary isolation is a proven way to reduce risk of spreading among household contacts,” Etches said Thursday.

Click to play video 'UBC study reveals new impact of self-isolation and quarantine on mental health' UBC study reveals new impact of self-isolation and quarantine on mental health
UBC study reveals new impact of self-isolation and quarantine on mental health – Nov 18, 2020

Sponsored content