Editor’s note: This story was updated on Dec. 22 with additional comments from Pierre Poirier and Mayor Jim Watson.
A COVID-19 outbreak at an off-duty gathering of Ottawa paramedics has resulted in dozens of cases in the service and nearly 100 patients with a “low-to-moderate” risk of exposure, according to a memo sent to city council late Tuesday.
Chief Pierre Poirier said in the memo that there are currently 30 known cases of COVID-19 within the Ottawa Paramedic Service, including both paramedics and support staff.
There has been a “minimal impact” on paramedic operations a result of the cases, Poirier said in a statement to Global News on Wednesday via the city’s media relations team. That work includes both ambulance service and supporting the city’s vaccination campaign.
Poirier said the exposures happened at an “off duty social gathering” at a restaurant on Dec. 15.
One paramedic developed symptoms and tested positive for the virus three days later, at which point all attendees were tested.
In total, 130 members of the paramedic service are considered “high-risk contacts.”
Those staff can continue to work if they’re asymptomatic and test negative in accordance with provincial standards, he said.
Poirier said 93 patients have been deemed close contacts to staff who were asymptomatic at the time.
He added, however, that because of infection control measures and personal protective equipment, “the risk of exposure is considered low to moderate.”
Ottawa Public Health has confirmed that everyone who was at the establishment was tested and all high-risk contacts have been reached, Poirier said in his original memo.
Mayor Jim Watson said Wednesday that he was “extremely disappointed” when he heard about the outbreak but said Poirier assured him there are plans in place to backfill staff that might be sidelined as a result.