Etches unconcerned by 1-day spike in COVID-19 cases

·3 min read

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged 91 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the highest single-day rise since late October, but the city's medical officer of health says she remains confident the city's heading in the right direction.

The news comes on a day when Ontario broke yet another one-day record, though Ottawa's share remains proportionally small.

I'm encouraged by the numbers we're seeing, and you should be too. - Dr. Vera Etches

Ottawa's latest cases are split evenly between people over and under age 40. OPH has declared 85 more cases resolved, and reported one more death from COVID-19.

Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters Thursday that she doesn't read too much into a one-day spike in cases, but instead looks at weekly trends. The number of active cases in Ottawa continues to decline week over week.

"I'm encouraged by the numbers we're seeing, and you should be too," Etches said.

Still, there's "work to do," she said. There's been no decline either in the number of patients being treated in hospital for COVID-19, or in COVID-19 levels in Ottawa's wastewater, at a time of year that's particularly risky for transmission, Etches said.

"Right now we're needing everyone to do their part because we're heading into the fall where there's more contact potentially indoors," she said.

Etches encouraged people to keep up with physical distancing and to get tested even if they have only mild symptoms such as a slight sore throat or unusual headache.

Getting tested in Ottawa is "really easy," she said. With online booking, there are many slots available each day, and most people are in and out in about 20 minutes. Test results are normally reported within two days, she said.

2 more deaths in western Quebec

A total of 7,725 Ottawa residents have now tested positive for COVID-19, including 495 known active case, 6,880 resolved cases and 350 deaths. With two more fatalities in western Quebec, the death toll in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region has now surpassed 500.

Fifty-nine patients are being treated for COVID-19 in Ottawa hospitals, including eight in intensive care.

An outbreak at The Ottawa Hospital's General campus is over, as is another at the Ottawa Islamic School.

There are ongoing outbreaks at seven long-term care homes, five schools and three hospital wards.

Researchers checking Ottawa's wastewater for signs of the coronavirus as another way to monitor its spread started seeing a rise around the start of the month, but say that on its own doesn't indicate a surge is coming.

Elsewhere, the medical officer of health for the Kingston, Ont., area said that region is seeing a bump in cases, including some spillover from Toronto and Ottawa.

Kingston and the surrounding area is still classified as a green zone on Ontario's pandemic alert scale. Dr. Kieran Moore said people should only leave the region for essential reasons.