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Coronavirus: Ottawa reports spike of 91 new COVID-19 cases

Ottawa Public Health is reporting 37 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a spike from fewer than 30 cases the previous two days. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ottawa’s coronavirus case count spiked on Thursday as the local public health unit plans for the rollout of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.

Ottawa Public Health reported 91 new cases of the novel coronavirus, following two straight days of local increases under 30.

One additional person has died in Ottawa in relation to COVID-19, bringing the city’s death toll of the pandemic to 350.

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There are now 495 active cases of the virus in Ottawa, according to OPH’s COVID-19 dashboard.

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There have been 7,725 cases of the coronavirus locally since the start of the pandemic.

Ontario, meanwhile, set another record for new coronavirus cases on Thursday, with an increase of 1,575 cases.

Read more: Doctors’ group calls for stricter COVID-19 measures as Ontario sees another single-day case record

Though Thursday represents a spike from previous daily increases in Ottawa this week, case counts in the nation’s capital were also above 70 over the weekend.

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said Thursday that daily COVID-19 cases counts will “continue to jump around” even as infection rates generally lower.

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She pointed to week-to-week trends as giving a better sense of Ottawa’s “direction” in the pandemic.

Ottawa’s coronavirus positivity rate stands at 2.7 per cent for the week of Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, down from rates higher than 3.0 per cent last week.

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The number of coronavirus outbreaks in Ottawa is trending downwards as well, with 36 ongoing outbreaks now in the city. Three new outbreaks were declared in Ottawa on Thursday, all of which are in unspecified workplaces.

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Hospitalizations in Ottawa remain high, however. There are 59 people in hospital locally with COVID-19, eight of whom are in the intensive care unit.

Another pandemic indicator, the level of viral signal researchers are detecting in Ottawa’s wastewater system, appears to be creeping back up as well.

Etches said more needs to be done to continue to stem the spread of the virus before further loosening restrictions in the yellow tier of Ontario’s coronavirus reopening framework.

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Ottawa’s top doctor said that while the news that Pfizer’s early vaccine trials are proving effective should provide “hope” that an end to the pandemic is within reach, she noted that development should not mean prematurely relaxing our COVID-19 precautions.

“We have to make it through to the vaccine,” she said. “This hope should help us sustain our prevention actions.”

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But OPH is also starting to prepare its local immunization rollout strategy for when any such vaccine becomes available to the general public.

While it’s still early days, Etches said much of the final shape of the distribution strategy could be influenced by its current seasonal flu shot campaign.

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That could mean collaborating with family physicians and other health-care partners on shared immunization clinics for residents.

The nature of the final vaccine will also affect the rollout. In the case of Pfizer’s candidate, the need for deep freezers to maintain the vaccine would likely require fixed sites for these clinics rather than mobile distribution.

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As for who gets the vaccine, Etches said it is likely that federal and provincial levels of government will establish a priority list of vulnerable populations who would need to get inoculated first — a direction OPH would follow.

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