Ottawa council extends temporary mask bylaw to 2021 amid 78 new COVID-19 cases

Ottawa council has extended its mandatory mask bylaw until at least 2021. Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press

Ottawa Public Health reported a jump of 78 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as city council officially extended rules on indoor mask-use until next year.

There have now been 6,772 cases of the novel coronavirus in Ottawa since the pandemic began.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa dropped below 700 as of Wednesday, according to OPH’s coronavirus dashboard.

Read more: Ontario reports 834 new coronavirus cases, 5 more deaths

No new deaths related to COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday.

There are currently 45 people in hospital with COVID-19, six of whom are in the intensive care unit, according to OPH.

OPH’s dashboard shows that 103 per cent of acute care beds and 84 per cent of ICU beds in Ottawa are occupied as of Oct. 26. Roughly a third of ventilator beds are also occupied.

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Three new coronavirus outbreaks were declared in Ottawa as of Wednesday, raising the total number of ongoing outbreaks in the city to 64.

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Among the latest outbreaks is the Ottawa Islamic School, where five people — three students and two staff — have tested positive for the virus.

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Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said Wednesday that though the level of virus in the city has decreased since it entered Ontario’s modified Stage 2 COVID-19 restrictions on Oct. 10, case figures are not yet low enough to keep new, deadly outbreaks at bay.

She said one of the positive trends is that younger adults are making up a lower proportion of new cases, which can help reduce the amount of “spillover” into higher-risk age categories.

Mayor Jim Watson said he spoke to Premier Doug Ford on Tuesday about next steps for Ottawa gyms, restaurants and other businesses that were forced to close or modify operations for 28 days to stem the spread of the virus. If not extended, the Stage 2 restrictions would expire in Ottawa on Nov. 7.

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

Etches said Wednesday that residents must continue to “keep pressure” on the virus through the well-worn advice of washing hands, keeping a physical distance of two metres where possible and wearing a mask.

Ottawa city council extended the temporary mask bylaw on Wednesday, which will now be in effect until at least the first council meeting of 2021.

Ottawa bylaw has issued 64 tickets in relation to violations of the mandatory mask rule since July, but most have been handed out more recently as officers adopted a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement in September, council heard Wednesday.

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