Ottawa likely moving into red zone within a week: OPH

·3 min read
Two people walk past a pandemic-related mural in downtown Ottawa in early March. Ottawa Public Health says the city's key COVID-19 indicators are firmly in the red and the city will likely move into the red zone within the next week. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)
Two people walk past a pandemic-related mural in downtown Ottawa in early March. Ottawa Public Health says the city's key COVID-19 indicators are firmly in the red and the city will likely move into the red zone within the next week. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)

Ottawa will likely move into the red zone under the province's colour-coded pandemic scale sometime in the next week, as the number of cases and positivity rates continue to rise, says the city's medical officer of health.

Dr. Vera Etches told a news conference Tuesday afternoon that the city's key COVID-19 indicators have been firmly in red-zone territory for the past four days and appear to be getting worse.

"I believe we are in red. We've passed the red threshold and we're staying in red," Etches said. "For the past number of days, we've passed more than one threshold, one measure into red."

Some of those thresholds include more than 40 people per 100,000 population testing positive for the illness and a test positivity rate of 2.5 per cent.

"This means we've had too many situations where transmission has occurred where people are in close contact with each other without a mask."

Under Ontario's red-zone rules, only 10 people would be allowed inside a restaurant, and cinemas and performing arts centres would have to close. Team sports, including scrimmages, would also be banned, and organized events would be limited to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

When an official move to red would occur is up to the province. Etches said she'll be speaking with Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, on Tuesday to get his assessment. If the government agrees, she said, it would take some time to officially make the change and implement the new measures.

Right now, we should be thinking of ourselves as in a red situation where the level of COVID in our community is higher and we need to limit our close contacts more. - Dr. Vera Etches

But Etches said people should change their behaviour now.

"Right now, we should be thinking of ourselves as in a red situation where the level of COVID in our community is higher and we need to limit our close contacts more," she said.

"Waiting for an official change is not helpful when we know that right now, today, if we can decrease COVID transmission in our community, we'll have less work to do to bring it back down and get back out of red. So, the faster we act, the better."

Concert at Lansdowne discouraged

Public health officials are also strongly discouraging a concert at Lansdowne Park that's being planned for later this month.

"Now is not the time to be hosting a concert."

Etches said public health has been in contact with the event organizers about not only the size of the event, but the fact COVID rapid testing a couple days beforehand is not sufficient to ensure safety. She said people often sing and mingle during concerts, and distancing is much more important.

If Ottawa moves into the red zone before March 27, when the concert is supposed to take place, it would not be allowed.