While COVID-19 levels in Ottawa appear steady, the number of outbreaks in schools locally is on the rise.
Ottawa Public Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday while the number of active cases in the city dropped to 444.
No new deaths related to the virus were included in the latest OPH report.
Twelve people are now in hospital with COVID-19 in Ottawa, three more than the day before, while eight such patients are in the intensive care unit.
Four new COVID-19 outbreaks affecting local schools were added in Thursday’s report, raising the overall number of ongoing outbreaks in the city to 20.
Schools newly placed in outbreak status this week include St. Stephen Catholic Elementary, Joan of Arc Academy, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and École élémentaire catholique Saint-Rémi.
The worst-hit school so far in the new term is École élémentaire catholique Montfort, which reports a COVID-19 outbreak affecting eight students and one staff member.
Responding to questions after Wednesday’s city council meeting, Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches acknowledged that the nation’s capital is seeing higher case counts than health units in Toronto on many days.
She pointed to the fact that Ottawa’s French-language school boards went back to classes weeks earlier than some boards in the GTA as a potential factor in the city’s higher COVID-19 levels.
“This can be part of what’s behind it, that we’re detecting more,” she said, noting that demand for COVID-19 testing for children has been higher since classes started again in early September.
Ottawa’s COVID-19 testing task force has been increasing capacity in the city to accommodate kids in need of a swab, adding weekend testing hours at the McNabb Centre last weekend and at the Ray Friel Community Centre for the weekend ahead.
However, Etches said that while the amount of viral signal being detected in Ottawa’s wastewater system rose in the first half of September, it’s been “coming down again” as of late.
OPH’s COVID-19 dashboard shows that the city’s reproduction number, which refers to the average number of secondary infections from typical COVID-19 cases, sits at an estimated 0.84 for the past week. Reproduction values above one suggest that the spread of the virus is speeding up while values lower than that suggest transmission is slowing.
Ottawa’s weekly coronavirus positivity rate is at 3.1 per cent as of Thursday.