'Too soon to celebrate' Ottawa's low case count, says Etches

·2 min read

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city's testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn't read too much into a single day's report.

"I don't think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average," she said. "It's too soon to celebrate."

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city's COVID-19 death toll to 361.

Eight of Tuesday's 11 new cases are people under 40. A total of 7,968 Ottawa residents have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Western Quebec has 39 new cases as of Tuesday, according to provincial health officials there.

"Overall many indicators point to a slow decline in transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa," said Etches.

The one indicator that hasn't budged much is the rate of hospitalization. Give or take, about 50 people have been in hospital in Ottawa with COVID-19 for the past couple of months, she said. That number should come down once transmission drops significantly in the city.

Currently, 47 patients are in Ottawa hospitals being treated for COVID-19, including five in intensive care.

"Forging on with the protective behaviours that we're using now can keep decreasing the level of virus and it will help us avoid hospitalizations and deaths," said Etches.

There's a new outbreak at the St. Louis Residence, the city's ninth long-term care home with an active outbreak. There are also outbreaks at six schools and two hospital wards.

OPH estimates the number of people infected by each confirmed case has risen to 1.1. That key indicator, coupled with the percentage of tests that come back positive and the weekly per capita count of new cases, risk sending the city into the red zone under Ontario's colour-coded pandemic scale. Ottawa has been orange for 11 days.