Some Ottawa pandemic trends keep rising, notably outbreaks and its hospital load

·4 min read
A person wearing a medical mask makes their way across a street while someone else enjoys a drink in Ottawa July 12, 2022. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)
A person wearing a medical mask makes their way across a street while someone else enjoys a drink in Ottawa July 12, 2022. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Some of Ottawa's pandemic trends rise further, others remain high.

  • A main COVID-19 test site won't close Wednesday as planned.

  • 15,000 vaccine doses for Ottawans last week is an increase from previous weeks.

  • There's a new patient limit at a Kingston urgent care clinic.

  • Hospitalizations jump in the Belleville area.

The region is in the seventh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic driven by the BA.5 coronavirus subvariant. It's the first early-summer wave.

In its most recent weekly update, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said the city's test positivity percentage was very high and its coronavirus wastewater levels were high.

OPH specifically called on more than 250,000 residents with just two vaccine doses to get a third, saying the protection offered by two doses alone is no longer enough.

WATCH | What's driving the rise in COVID-19 in Ottawa?:

The latest Ottawa update

Wastewater

The average level of coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater started rising in early June and has plateaued for the last week. It's below the peaks of the two previous 2022 waves.

That average is about three times higher than it was a month ago and about 17 times higher than a year ago.

613covid.ca
613covid.ca

Hospitals

Thirty-two Ottawa residents have been admitted to a city hospital with COVID-19, according to OPH's latest update. That number has been rising all month.

Three of those patients are in intensive care, down from five in Friday's update.

One year ago, there was one of these hospital patients and two years ago, there were six.

The hospitalization figures above don't include all patients. For example, they leave out patients admitted for other reasons who then test positive for COVID-19, those admitted for lingering COVID-19 complications, and those transferred from other health units.

Including those categories, 168 COVID-19 patients were in hospital as of its most recent data. That number has more than doubled in the last week.

Ottawa Public Health
Ottawa Public Health

Tests, outbreaks and cases

Testing strategies changed under the Omicron variant, meaning many COVID-19 cases aren't reflected in current counts. Public health officials now only track and report outbreaks in health-care settings.

Ottawa's test positivity rate sits around 17 per cent. That's generally stable at a very high level over the last week. It was about 11 per cent a month ago.

There are currently 63 active COVID outbreaks in Ottawa. This number has more than quadrupled since the start of July. Thirty-four, or just over half, are in long-term care and retirement homes.

OPH reported 336 more cases and three more deaths over the last four days. The victims were all age 80 or older. Ottawa has had 832 residents with COVID-19 die.

While active cases are a flawed measure when testing is this limited, the city is back above 1,000 known active cases for the first time since May.

The surge in spread and demand for testing led Ottawa's testing task force to cancel plans to close the Brewer Arena COVID test site Wednesday.

Vaccines

As of the most recent weekly update, 93 per cent of Ottawa residents age five and up had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 89 per cent had at least two.

Sixty-four per cent of Ottawans age 12 and over had at least three doses, and 14 per cent had four.

OPH reported an increase to about 15,000 vaccine doses being given to Ottawa residents in the last week. About 11,000 doses were given the previous two weeks combined,

It came as fourth dose eligibility expanded to all adults in Ontario. More than 12,000 of those doses last week were fourth doses.

Across the region

Wastewater levels are stable or dropping in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties and the Kingston area. Data from other areas is either at least a week old or not publicly available.

Western Quebec is reporting 60 COVID hospitalizations. That number has been around the 60s this month.

Eastern Ontario communities outside Ottawa are reporting a rising total of 31 COVID hospitalizations, including six patients in intensive care. Sixteen of those patients are in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) east of Ottawa.

Because of pandemic staff shortages and demand, the Kingston Health Sciences Centre is limiting the number of people who can access its urgent care centre at the Hotel Dieu Hospital starting Wednesday to focus resources on the general hospital's emergency room.

That regional total doesn't include Hastings Prince Edward (HPE) Public Health, which has a different counting method. Its nine hospitalizations, with three in an ICU, are a jump back to levels last seen in early June.

Across eastern Ontario, between 81 and 92 per cent of residents age five and up have received at least two vaccine doses, and between 59 and 71 per cent of adults have had at least three.

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