Seven more people have died in connection to the novel coronavirus in Ottawa in the deadliest day of the pandemic so far in the city.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported that seven people died in relation to the virus between Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the pandemic’s death toll up to 21 in the capital.
OPH also reported 50 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the city. Ottawa’s total number of confirmed cases stands at 728 as of 4 p.m. Thursday.
The local public health unit says the spike in newly confirmed cases might be connected to a recent provincial expansion in people eligible to get tested for the virus.
Ontario expanded the categories for testing this week to include asymptomatic residents and staff at long-term care facilities, first responders, caregivers, people with frequent health-care contact and those living in rural and remote communities.
The jump in deaths related to the novel coronavirus in Ottawa comes amid similar spikes nationally, especially in Quebec and Ontario. There were 183 coronavirus-linked deaths reported across Canada on Thursday, with 143 coming from Quebec and nearly all the rest in Ontario.
Canada’s chief medical officer of health, Theresa Tam, said Thursday the proportion of outbreaks in long-term care homes has led to a higher death rate than expected.
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OPH reports 16 ongoing outbreaks in institutions — including long-term care homes, retirement residences and hospitals — across Ottawa.
The latest local outbreak was confirmed Thursday at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre, which holds 450 long-term care beds and 139 independent-living apartments for seniors.
Two of the health centre’s staff have tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting facility-wide control precautions including isolating residences in their rooms, masking all staff as well as ongoing testing and screening for the virus.
None of the health centre’s residents had so far tested positive for the virus as of Thursday.
Mayor Jim Watson tweeted his condolences Friday to families losing loved ones in the pandemic.