Ottawa recorded its lowest number of COVID-19 cases in more than two months on Tuesday, but the city’s top doctor said it’s “too soon to celebrate” as she urged continued vigilance in containing the novel coronavirus locally.
Ottawa Public Health reported an increase of 11 cases of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday.
This marks the lowest daily increase since OPH reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Sept. 1 — two weeks before local health officials declared the city had entered the second wave of the pandemic.
Tuesday’s report from the Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce shows that 1,792 swabs were taken at local coronavirus assessment centres on Monday, while 1,387 lab tests were performed, well short of current local testing capacity for more than 6,000 tests per day.
Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said testing levels in the city tend to dip over the weekend and peak mid-week, leading to an uneven pattern of case reporting day-to-day. She recommended residents pay closer attention to weekly trends instead.
“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. We might be much higher tomorrow,” she said Tuesday.
Etches said the rate of virus transmission in Ottawa appears to be in a “slow decline” as of late, though it’s “too soon to celebrate” the end of the city’s collective efforts to flatten the curve.
Other indicators — hospitalizations, outbreaks and viral signals tracked through the city’s wastewater system — remain stable and can quickly tick back up if residents let their guards down.
She therefore said it is likely “too soon” to say what the upcoming December holidays might look like for families in Ottawa, though she suggested Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations might look “similar” to how residents marked Remembrance Day, Diwali and Halloween — within their own households.
Etches said the Ontario government tends to make decisions about whether to loosen or tighten coronavirus restrictions on municipalities on Fridays after consulting with her and other local officials.
Even if an indicator such as the local percent positivity rate rises, Etches said she could add context to the numbers to argue for or against further lockdown measures as needed.
“If I don’t agree with the assessment, I think there would be room for discussion,” she said.
There have now been 7,968 cases of the virus locally since the start of the pandemic, with 462 of those cases considered active, according to OPH’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Two additional people have died in connection with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the city’s coronavirus death toll to 361.
There are 47 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Ottawa, six of whom are in the intensive care unit.
Etches noted Tuesday that the people in local hospitals are not only the elderly, but teenagers as well, and many of the older adults hospitalized with COVID-19 are coming from the community, not just long-term care homes.
Five new coronavirus outbreaks were declared in Ottawa, raising the number of ongoing outbreaks in the city to 39 as of Tuesday.