Ottawa reports 58 new COVID-19 cases as viral signal in sewage data rebounds

Ottawa Public Health reported 87 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the first day of 2021 when the number of new cases fell below triple digits. Getty Images / File Photo

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) continues to report lower numbers of novel coronavirus cases in Ottawa, while other indicators suggest the level of COVID-19 in the capital might be returning to recent highs.

OPH reported 58 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday. There have now been 6,694 COVID-19 cases in Ottawa since the start of the pandemic, with 704 of those cases considered active.

Read more: Ottawa mayor says he’s on the ‘same page’ with Premier Ford on COVID-19 restrictions

Meanwhile, there were 827 new cases reported across Ontario with 23,900 tests processed in the past 24 hours — less than half the province’s previously stated target for testing capacity.

The number of lab tests in eastern Ontario has hit slightly more than half the region’s targets in recent days, according to reports from Ottawa’s COVID-19 Testing Taskforce.

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Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that Thanksgiving gatherings were contributing to surging infections in some of the province’s coronavirus hot spots, but that Ottawa appears to be the exception.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Elliott says weekend rise in COVID-19 infections the result of Thanksgiving gatherings' Coronavirus: Elliott says weekend rise in COVID-19 infections the result of Thanksgiving gatherings
Coronavirus: Elliott says weekend rise in COVID-19 infections the result of Thanksgiving gatherings – Oct 26, 2020

OPH told Global News in a statement on Monday that it has “not identified any data trends” in the proportion of Ottawa residents testing positive in the two weeks following the holiday long weekend.

But other data sources suggest that the level of COVID-19 in the community might be poised for a resurgence after a relative dip in recent days.

The level of viral signal in Ottawa’s wastewater systems appears to be spiking again, according to data illustrated by a team of local researchers.

Wastewater data tracking the level of COVID-19 viral signal in Ottawa as of Oct. 25, 2020.

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, and other public health experts have previously pointed to this data source as an indicator of underlying levels of infection that regular testing might miss.

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Other indicators tracking the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, such as hospitalizations, remain high.

There are currently 44 people in hospital with COVID-19, four of whom are in intensive care, according to OPH’s dashboard.

Read more: Ottawa Hospital building 40-bed temporary unit in Civic Campus parking lot

There are 64 ongoing coronavirus outbreaks in Ottawa institutions such as long-term care homes, schools, workplaces and organized sports teams, four fewer than the day before.

One new outbreak was declared in the Glebe Centre long-term care home where one staff member has tested positive for the virus.