Ottawa's early exit from lockdown unlikely, says Etches

·2 min read

Ottawa's top doctor says it's unlikely the city will leave lockdown before the rest of the province on Jan. 23 after some of the key numbers used to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the nation's capital rose sharply.

"We evaluate the numbers every day to check on the trends," said Dr. Vera Etches. "This trend is going to lead us to maintain this 28-day lockdown, I think. It takes some time to move away from an increase, to flatten the curve again."

After Premier Doug Ford announced last week that southern Ontario, including Ottawa, would enter lockdown, both Etches and Mayor Jim Watson voiced their disappointment with the provincial government's decision.

The two cited the city's then-lower-than-average numbers as reason why the city should exit lockdown early, advocating for just two weeks of lockdown instead of four.

Key indicators tell different story

The city's numbers have started to rise, however. Even without the lockdown, many of the city's key indicators would qualify Ottawa as a red zone if the trend continues.

One such indicator is the city's number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, which is now at 40.1, up from fewer than 36 on Tuesday.

"These numbers come from our actions probably two weeks ago," said Ottawa's medical officer of health. What we do today will make a difference to slow this down."

Not only is Ottawa seeing a rise in its key indicators, but it has confirmed its first case of a new variant of COVID-19, first identified in the United Kingdom.

"It's another variable that really underlines how we want to make sure it doesn't establish itself and have widespread transmission of a virus variant that could be more [transmissible]," Etches said. "And the ways to do that [are] the things we're doing now."

Celebrate New Year's with household, Etches says

The doctor said people should continue to limit contact with others, as well as wear masks and maintain physical distancing.

She said people should keep their New Year's plans in mind and celebrate it only with people in their household.

"Reach out virtually to friends and family, " she said. "We are all hoping for a happier New Year. We do see signs of hope."