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Ottawa Public Health reports 37 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 289

Medical staff of a mobile unit take samples to test for Covid-19, at the Santa Maria della Pieta' hospital complex, in Rome, Wednesday, April 1, 2020.
Medical staff of a mobile unit take samples to test for Covid-19, at the Santa Maria della Pieta' hospital complex, in Rome, Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP

Ottawa’s public health unit on Friday reported 37 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the city, bringing the city’s total number of known cases to 289.

The new COVID-19 figures were published in Ottawa Public Health’s daily epidemiology report. Friday’s document is based on the “most current information available” as of 4 p.m. on Thursday.

More people have been admitted to hospital since the last update, according to the report. It says 25 people are currently hospitalized in Ottawa; 10 are in the intensive care unit.

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario officials say COVID-19 outbreak could last up to two years
Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario officials say COVID-19 outbreak could last up to two years

The new case numbers for Ottawa came on the heels of a press conference in Toronto where provincial health officials released the modelling data being used to inform Ontario’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the province continues with the current containment measures in place, Ontario could see 80,000 COVID-19 cases and just under 1,600 deaths linked to the virus by the end of April, according to the modelling system.

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By comparison, if the Ontario government had taken no action or intervention to slow the spread of the virus, the province would have seen 300,000 cases of COVID-19 and 6,000 deaths by the end of this month, according to the president and CEO of Public Health Ontario.

READ MORE: Ontario projects just under 1,600 COVID-19 deaths, 80,000 cases by end of April

And over the full course of the pandemic — which could be 18 months to two years — the province may have suffered 100,000 deaths with no government intervention, Dr. Peter Donnelly said.

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With more “enhanced” measures in place, Donnelly said he believes the death toll in Ontario will fall somewhere between 3,000 and 15,000 people, based on the models.

Ottawa health officials to review Ontario projections, plug in local data

Local health officials said the modelling data reveal marked the first time they had seen the projections used by the province but, speaking broadly, they said they’re “largely consistent” with other models they’re referencing.

Officials at Ottawa Public Health and the Ottawa Hospital said they will review the models in the coming days, compare them with the other models, and also plug in data that’s being tracked locally — including hospital admission data — to carve out a clearer picture of Ottawa’s situation.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Fines for big gatherings, repeat offenders start Friday, Ottawa mayor warns

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A senior scientist assisting with that process likened projecting the course of COVID-19 in Ottawa to “forecasting a hurricane.”

“We need to constantly update projections with the latest data, including local data, to help us understand when and where the hurricane will reach landfall,” said Doug Manuel of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

“We can’t reliably forecast the weather at six months and we can’t forecast COVID-19 at six months, but we will be able to forecast a shorter range and that will give us time to plan and expand our hospitals if needed.”

There are about 3,400 available hospital beds — including critical care beds — and approximately 304 ventilated beds across the Champlain region, according to Dr. Andrew Willmore, medical director of emergency management at the Ottawa Hospital.

Officials are working to increase that capacity, he added.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 3 emergency daycares to open in Ottawa, health workers to get priority

Manuel said the province’s COVID-19 projections did show that “many, if not most” of the consequences of the pandemic, including deaths, are preventable.

“The actions of every person in our community makes a difference,” Manuel said.

“If we work together, we can change the direction of this pandemic in our community.”

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Ottawa Public Health reported no new deaths linked to COVID-19 on Friday. Three people, all in their 80s or older, have died from the virus and 32 cases have been resolved to date, according to the health unit.

The 37 new confirmed cases reported Friday mark a smaller single-day jump than Ottawa saw over the two days prior. Local health officials attributed the spikes of cases that started Wednesday to the province clearing its backlog of tests.

Ontario has now “eliminated” that backlog, Donnelly said on Friday.

7 cases in Renfrew County, 26 in Eastern Ontario: health units

In Renfrew County, health officials haven’t reported an increase in cases since March 31.

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit has reported one death linked to COVID-19 — a woman in her 90s who died at Pembroke Regional Hospital — on March 30.

READ MORE: COVID-19 ‘care clinic’ opening in Ottawa to divert sick patients from family doctors

For its part, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit reports 26 confirmed coronavirus cases in the area as of April 2.

As of Friday, Ottawa had the fourth-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province, behind Toronto Public Health, Peel Public Health and York Region Public Health, according to provincial COVID-19 figures.

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-With files from Gabby Rodrigues and Jessica Patton