Ottawa’s Health Unit Says COVID-19 is Being Transmitted Through Various Community Settings in Barrhaven

By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent 

Ottawa Public Health says “there is ongoing COVID-19 transmission in Barrhaven across multiple community settings” as case counts of the virus rise in Ottawa. 

On Dec. 7, the public health unit reported 68 new infections in the city, out of 928 province wide. That brings the active case count in Ottawa to 448. 

On the same day, the province of Ontario announced they were pausing any further reopening plans indefinitely as the daily average continues to climb. 

Health officials have warned the virus would take a stronger grip this winter, and their observations have proven to be right. It comes as the new omicron variant of COVID-19 has also been reported in multiple areas around Ontario. Details on how transmissible this new variant is, and if it makes you more sick when becoming infected, is still unclear.

By early January, Ontario’s science advisory table predicts the province could see between 250 and 400 COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care.  that would put a strain on an already delicate healthcare system, which has suffered through various waves in the pandemic.

Locally, Barrhaven Martial Arts Center is reporting an active COVID-19 outbreak. Risk of transmission occurred on Nov. 19, and then again from Nov. 22 to 26. 

It is unclear how many cases of the virus have been linked to this outbreak, and Ottawa Public Health refused to comment.

“It is important for OPH to maintain positive and trusting relationships with businesses and members of the public as we rely heavily on their cooperation to provide details about close contacts during the case management process,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “To protect privacy and personal health information, Ottawa Public Health is unable to disclose additional information about these outbreaks.”

Some parents have also told the Barrhaven Independent that extra curricular activities are to blame for a sudden rise of COVID-19 infections in local schools, an observation Ottawa Public Health seems to confirm.

“Individuals who participate in extra-curricular activities are at greater risk of both contracting COVID-19 as well as possibly spreading it throughout their networks,” the health unit told the Barrhaven Independent. “The mixing of cohorts results in multiple possible transmission pathways, thereby increasing overall community risk.  To decrease community risk, all individuals must consider reducing group activities.  Indoor activities are inherently higher risk due to the closed environment with shared airspace particularly in situations of physical exertion.  Screening protocols must be robust to ensure potentially infectious persons are not participating in extracurricular activities/sports.  Masking remains incredibly important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

COVID-19 in Barrhaven Schools

Half Moon Bay Public School is closed due to a current outbreak until at least Thursday. According to the OCDSB dashboard, there are 17 activity cases. Ottawa Public Health says that number is now 16. 

At École élémentaire catholique Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau, there are four active student cases, and five classes are closed as a result. According to one parent, there are cases in a kindergarten class and a grade 2 class. 

Chapman Mills Public school has seven active student cases and Mary Honewell has five. 

In the Catholic Board, St. Benedict is reporting four active student cases and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is reporting three. 

A previous COVID-19 outbreak at Farley Mowat Public School has been declared over. There are also a few schools in Barrhaven from all boards reporting one or two COVID-19 infections. 

Across the bridge in Findlay Creek and Riverside South, Steve MacLean is reporting four active student COVID-19 cases and Vimy Ridge is reporting three. 

When it comes to the increase of COVID-19 being transmitted in Barrhaven, the health unit says much of it is coming from younger individuals who up until recently, couldn’t be vaccinated. 

“OPH can confirm that there is ongoing COVID-19 transmission in Barrhaven across multiple community settings, and the increase in cases presently seen in this area is predominantly amongst individuals who have only recently become eligible for vaccination,” they said. “Given the unimmunized, or partially immunized status of this population, all other COVID-19 control measures remain of utmost importance. OPH advises that screening, masking, hand hygiene and reducing contact with person(s) outside of your household remain important tools to protect against COVID-19 transmission.”