Ottawa’s public health unit said it identified 21 new cases of novel coronavirus on Thursday as the nation’s capital slowly begins opening up from its pandemic shutdown.
The local count of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, now stands at 1,579, according to Ottawa Public Health (OPH) data.
Two more people have also died in relation to the virus, OPH confirmed Thursday, bringing Ottawa’s death toll to 141.
One of those people, Global News has learned, was a health-care worker at Madonna Care Community, a long-term care facility in Orleans. A statement from the facility identified the worker as a man, but did not give any other identifying details.
“He was a loved and respected team member and will be missed by his colleagues and the residents he cared for. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, loved ones, and colleagues on behalf of everyone at Madonna,” a spokesperson for Madonna Care Community said.
Ottawa’s long-term care facilities remain hotspots for the virus, as OPH says there are 15 ongoing coronavirus outbreaks in care homes across the city.
Mayor Jim Watson announced Wednesday that the city would start immediately lifting restrictions on green spaces and public parks, allowing families and individuals to sit on the grass for picnics or play catch.
Earlier this week, the province extended a series of emergency orders, including a ban on using park amenities such as play structures and sports fields, but has begun relaxing other restrictions, such as permitting the reopening of gardening centres and allowing for curbside pickup at retail stores.
Other outdoor areas in Ottawa are also starting a gradual reopening, including the Beechwood Cemetery.
The east-end cemetery closed to the visiting public in early April but maintained cremation and burial services in the interim.
The cemetery announced Thursday it will reopen Saturday, one day before Mother’s Day. The site will be open for walk-through between sunrise and sunset on the weekend and from 4 p.m. to sunset on weekdays.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.