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Spiking COVID-19 cases put Ottawa into possible red zone territory

Ottawa is ramping up its COVID-19 vaccination campaign as case counts in the nation's capital could warrant a shift to Ontario's red zone. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

A fresh surge in COVID-19 cases over the weekend has put Ottawa’s coronavirus metrics close or within the province’s red zone territory.

Ottawa Public Health reported 75 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, following increases of 68 cases on Sunday and 94 cases on Saturday.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa rose to 626 on Monday from 611 the day before.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,268 new coronavirus cases, 9 more deaths

Two additional people have now died in connection with COVID-19 in Ottawa, raising the city’s death toll from the pandemic to 449.

Public Health Ontario’s daily report shows that 159 COVID-19 cases in Ottawa have been flagged as variants of concern, though exact strains have yet to be determined for all of them.

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To date, Ontario reports that Ottawa has seen 14 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, and two cases of the B.1.351 variant, originally found in South Africa.

Among the 38 ongoing coronavirus outbreaks in Ottawa, two are within warehouses in the city. Sixteen people have tested positive and one person has died in connection with coronavirus outbreaks in Ottawa warehouses, including two previous outbreaks in such settings that have now ended.

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One bright spot on OPH’s COVID-19 dashboard was a steep decline in the number of people in hospital with the virus — down to 21 as of Monday from 36 on Sunday. Five people are now in the intensive care unit with COVID-19, however, up from three the day previous.

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Another positive indicator is in Ottawa’s wastewater data, which now show a sharp decline of viral levels in the city’s sewage system from recent peaks.

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But many of Ottawa’s COVID-19 monitoring indicators are now firmly in red territory, which could soon warrant a shift for the city into harsher coronavirus restrictions through Ontario’s colour-coded reopening framework.

Read more: Ottawa opens up COVID-19 vaccine appointments to all residents aged 80-plus

Ottawa’s coronavirus incidence rate now stands at 45.5 cases per 100,000 people, surpassing the bar of 40 cases per 100,000 needed to shift from orange to red.

The city’s coronavirus positivity rate is now also up to 2.5 per cent over the past week, which matches the threshold for red.

Ottawa’s R number, which refers to the number of people who test positive in connection with an average COVID-19 case, currently stands at approximately 1.1. An average R number over 1.2 warrants the shift to red.

Ottawa also continues to ramp up its vaccination efforts in an attempt to protect the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Read more: All Ottawa residents could receive 1st COVID-19 vaccine dose by summer, says hospital CEO

The city has now administered a total of 77,423 vaccine doses as of Monday, having dolled out roughly 4,400 more doses over the weekend. Ottawa also received a new shipment of 6,100 Moderna doses on Saturday, raising the total number of doses received locally to date to 86,640.

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Two-thirds of retirement home residents in Ottawa have now received a second dose of the vaccine.

All Ottawa residents aged 80 and older can now book a vaccine appointment via the provincial booking system that went live on Monday.

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