Very high flu level detected in Ottawa wastewater, COVID-19 and RSV moderate

A 16-month-old child receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Ottawa on Nov. 23, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press - image credit)
A 16-month-old child receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Ottawa on Nov. 23, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • OPH says flu wastewater level is very high, while COVID-19 and RSV are moderate.

  • Ottawa's other COVID trends are mostly stable.

  • The city's count of other kinds of respiratory outbreaks keeps climbing.

  • Ottawa's weekly COVID vaccine pace keeps up.

  • The wider region passes 2,000 reported COVID deaths.

The latest guidance

Officials in Ontario and Quebec say the health-care system, particularly for children, is under extraordinary pressure because of COVID-19, early flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) seasons, as well as a medication shortage.

They strongly recommend people wear masks indoors. Staying home when sick, keeping hands and surfaces clean and keeping up-to-date with COVID and flu vaccines are also recommended to help keep vulnerable people safe.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said Thursday that flu levels are very high in the city's wastewater, while RSV and COVID levels are moderate.

Ontario and Quebec flu test positivity is increasing. RSV positivity has plateaued in Ontario and is dropping in Quebec.

Akwesasne's elected council and school board have brought back a mask mandate. A vote on a mask mandate for Ottawa's English public board Thursday night ended in a tie and failed to pass.

Wastewater

The weekly average level of coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater is moderate, according to OPH.

While the research team hasn't updated its page, OPH says that as of Nov. 22 the average has slowly dropped this month and sits at a level last seen in June.

Ottawa Public Health
Ottawa Public Health

Tests, outbreaks and deaths

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

Ottawa's COVID test positivity rate is 14 per cent, which has been generally stable for 10 days. OPH considers this high.

There are 23 active COVID outbreaks in Ottawa. This is moderate, according to OPH, and the number has been dropping.

The health unit also reports two flu outbreaks, while "other" respiratory outbreaks — nearly all in child-care settings — have risen to 50.

OPH reported 152 more COVID cases over three days and the deaths of two people in their 70s and 80s with COVID.

In all, 965 Ottawa residents who had COVID have died since the start of the pandemic, including 355 of them this year.

Hospitals

OPH's count of active, local COVID-19 hospital patients is 20, according to Tuesday's update, with two patients in intensive care.

This is more than in recent updates, and OPH is no longer saying there are any data irregularities with this count.

The health unit says the number of COVID hospital admissions is moderate.

There is another count that includes other patients, such as people admitted for other reasons who then test positive for COVID, those admitted for lingering COVID complications, and those transferred from other health units.

That number slightly increased Friday and is generally stable.

Ottawa Public Health
Ottawa Public Health

Vaccines

About 12,300 COVID-19 vaccine doses were given to Ottawa residents in the last week, roughly on par with recent weeks' pace.

More than 10,000 were fourth doses.

As of the most recent weekly update, 93 per cent of Ottawa residents aged five and up had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, 90 per cent had at least two and 61 per cent at least three.

Thirty-two per cent of Ottawans aged 12 and older had at least four.

About 8,800 residents younger than five have had a first dose, which is about 19 per cent of Ottawa's population of that age group. About 3,250, or seven per cent, have had two.

Across the region

Spread

Wastewater trends are mixed in the Kingston area and stable across the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) except for a rise in Hawkesbury.

Data from other areas is out of date or unavailable.

COVID-19 test positivity has dropped to around nine per cent in Renfrew County and to around 11 per cent in the EOHU.

The EOHU's Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said in a YouTube update Wednesday that as flu and RSV burden the health-care system, COVID indicators there are dropping or stable.

WATCH | The medical officer of health's update:

Hospitalizations and deaths

Western Quebec's health authority, CISSSO, reported a stable 73 COVID-19 hospitalizations. None of the patients are in intensive care.

Eastern Ontario communities outside Ottawa report about 45 COVID hospitalizations, seven of them are in intensive care. Both have been dropping.

That regional count doesn't include Hastings Prince Edward (HPE) Public Health, which has a different counting method. Its count dropped below 10 Tuesday for the first time since August.

CISSSO has reported its 138th COVID death of 2022 and its 361st overall. The EOHU reported two more of these deaths, bringing its total to 272.

Renfrew County's health unit reported three more deaths in two weeks for a total of 80 (it was doing a data audit and didn't give an update last week).

This is by far the deadliest year for reported COVID-19 deaths in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, with more than 900 reported victims so far. The region surpassed 2,000 reported COVID deaths this week.

Six of the seven local health authorities have reported more COVID deaths in 2022 than either 2020 or 2021. Ottawa is the exception.

Nationally, people dying of COVID in the later months of 2022 have generally been older, living with pre-existing conditions, or undergoing immune-suppressing treatments.

Vaccines

Across eastern Ontario, between 81 and 92 per cent of residents age five and up have received at least two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and between 53 and 65 per cent of those residents have had at least three.