Numbers only paint part of the picture: Ottawa Public Health

As of Wednesday morning, there are 27 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the city. Ottawa Public Health’s website says another 13 cases are awaiting test results.

But Dr. Vera Etches is reminding the public those numbers only paint part of the picture. In a statement posted to Ottawa Public Health’s website; she says laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 means there could be 4,000 cases in the city.

“These cases are really only one small part of the COVID-19 response,” her statement reads. Etches uses a model from the University of Toronto to explain how the confirmed numbers reflect more undiagnosed cases. She says healthcare officials like herself use the model to plan for the future, whether it’s implementing preventive measures or deciding to close schools.

While the model may not give perfect numbers, it suggests what Dr. Etches has shared with the public: 27 confirmed cases mean there are likely hundreds or thousands more undiagnosed cases.

Dr. Etches says this underscores the importance of physical (formerly known as social) distancing.

How to implement physical distancing

  •  Limit all non-essential trips. You can make use of apps to connect with family, friends and colleagues.
  •  When you go outside for a walk or on essential errands, keep two metres between yourself and other people.
  •  You should limit your contact just to people within your household.
  • Anyone returning to the country must self-isolate for at least 14 days. You can read more about self-isolation here.

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