The city of Ottawa, Canada, is currently experiencing a concerning surge in COVID-19 cases, accompanied by inadequate testing rates. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has reported a significant increase of 207 new cases and three deaths in the past week alone. This brings the total death toll to 1,136, with a cumulative total of 94,917 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
The situation in Ottawa is alarming, with 77 confirmed COVID-19 patients currently admitted to local hospitals, including one patient in intensive care. Furthermore, 77 patients have been admitted for unrelated health issues, putting additional strain on the healthcare system. OPH has identified 18 new outbreaks in institutional settings, contributing to a total of 37 ongoing outbreaks in the region.
The infection rate per 100,000 people over the past seven days stands at 19.8 percent, indicating a worrisome upward trend. OPH’s respiratory and enteric surveillance dashboard reveals escalating trends in COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory viruses. Of particular concern is the “very high levels and rising” of COVID-19 and influenza detected in wastewater testing.
Recent data highlights the concerning situation in Ottawa, with COVID-19 numbers on the rise and categorizations of “high” or “very high” in recent OPH updates. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity is notably high, with 22 new hospitalizations, while influenza trends fluctuate between low and very high.
Despite the increase in cases, testing rates remain minimal, and the official figures may not accurately reflect the true extent of the situation. Independent local media sources have reported a rise in COVID-19 outpatients and inpatients across various clinics and hospitals, as well as a shortage of COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits at drugstores and pharmacies.
Health experts stress the importance of preventive measures, including covering coughs and sneezes, wearing masks, practicing hand hygiene, staying home when sick, and getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza. OPH highlights the continued high risk for respiratory illnesses in healthcare institutions, a risk that has persisted since early September.
Wastewater analysis conducted by a research team has revealed a concerning rise in the average coronavirus wastewater level over the past ten days, reaching one of the highest levels recorded this year. This has prompted OPH to categorize the situation as “very high.”
Hospitalization rates are also at their highest since OPH began reporting weekly averages in the summer. The average number of Ottawa residents hospitalized for COVID-19 has surged to 71, with one patient in intensive care. Additionally, the number of patients testing positive after admission or being admitted for lingering COVID complications has increased by 54, indicating a shift from moderate to high scale.
Despite the surge in cases, testing rates remain insufficient, with a weekly average test positivity rate of approximately 19 percent, classified as high by OPH. The city is grappling with 37 active COVID outbreaks, primarily in retirement homes and hospitals, with a high number of new outbreaks being reported.
In the broader region, health units in Kingston, Eastern Ontario, and Hastings Prince Edward report varying degrees of stability and risk. Kingston reports stable to very high COVID trends, with low flu indicators and rising RSV trends. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit cites a high-risk period for COVID, with elevated wastewater readings and a rising test positivity rate of 23 percent. Hastings Prince Edward notes an increase in COVID vaccinations, with 12 percent of residents vaccinated in the last six months.
Neighboring regions also face concerning hospitalization and death rates. Kingston has 22 active COVID-19 patients, though this number has decreased. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has witnessed a threefold increase in COVID hospitalizations, now at 25, which it categorizes as high. Western Quebec maintains a stable count of 85 hospital patients with COVID, while Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark counties report two more COVID deaths.
As Ottawa grapples with the rise in COVID-19 cases, there is a pressing need for increased testing, preventive measures, and vaccination campaigns. The situation in the broader region highlights the interconnected nature of the pandemic and the need for coordinated efforts to curb the spread of the virus. OPH is expected to provide the next COVID vaccination update in early December, shedding light on the ongoing vaccination efforts in the region.