COVID-19 in Ottawa: two years since the first case

As we head into the third year of the pandemic, things are looking a lot brighter than they were in March 2020.

Back then, most people wouldn’t have believed it would last this long – March 11, 2022 marks two years of a global pandemic and two years since the first confirmed case in Ottawa.

Many things have changed in the meantime. Two years ago, we hadn’t even started wearing masks. Now we are just over a week away from being able to take them off again.

Two years seems like an eternity ago.

“We have assessed that COVID-19 can be classified as a pandemic,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, March 11, 2020.

TSN 1200 Senators color commentator Gord Wilson was one of the first Ottawa residents to test positive for the virus.

“Anxiety levels have been rising day by day and in 2020 test results have been slow to come together,” he said. “It took me 16 days.”

Wilson caught the virus after returning from a road trip with the Sens. A few days later, all major sports leagues closed.

“It’s as dramatic an impact on my life as I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s shocking to think it’s been two years since the start of the pandemic.”

Here is a timeline of how it all started in Canada:

  • January 25, 2020: Canada’s first case of COVID-19 has been reported, a Toronto man who had just returned from Wuhan, China.
  • March 8, 2020: Canada records its first death related to COVID-19, a man in his 80s who died in a Vancouver retirement home.
  • March 11, 2020: The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. On the same day, Ottawa confirmed its first case.

A few days later, the first warning came from Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, to stay home.

What many thought was a few weeks dragged on to months, then years.

People stayed indoors, sometimes away from family and friends, and businesses closed down and needed government help.

Then vaccines were developed in record time, giving hope, but not an immediate end to the pandemic.

“Vaccines have really changed the landscape. They have changed COVID from a life-threatening infection and totally disfigured it,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch.

And so the day everything changed in the capital, two years later, we are days away from the removal of mask mandates and soon all public health measures will end.

This summer, life might seem normal. But it may never be the same again.

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