Ottawa Public Health is reporting 36 new COVID-19 cases on Friday as the premier gave credit to the city’s residents for stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus over the past 28 days of economic restrictions.
Two more people have died in relation to the virus in Ottawa in the past 24 hours, raising the city’s death toll amid the pandemic to 336.
There have now been 7,360 COVID-19 cases locally since the start of the pandemic, with OPH reporting 587 active cases of the virus.
The number of people in hospital in Ottawa with COVID-19 remained consistent at 54 for the third day in a row, with four people still listed in intensive care.
One new coronavirus outbreak was declared at an undisclosed local workplace. The number of coronavirus outbreaks in Ottawa now stands at 41.
After posting a spike of 132 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, Ottawa Public Health has seen a general decline in new cases since, with daily reports fluctuating between 28 and 51 new cases.
The number of lab tests performed locally reached a week-high of 4,110 on Thursday, according to the Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce. The testing backlog stood at 1,924 as of Thursday, with an average turnaround of 19 hours for processing high-priority samples.
The local public health unit also reduced its COVID-19 warning system for the region this week, setting the scale back to “orange” after entering the “red” zone on Oct. 14. OPH considers various indicators such as levels of virus spread, hospitalizations and contact tracing capacity when adjusting its pandemic warning scale.
“Overall, Ottawa indicators are moving away from red status metrics, and stabilizing enough to reduce to orange,” an OPH spokesperson told Global News this week.
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Ottawa will also move into the orange on Ontario’s new system of COVID-19 restrictions as of Saturday at 12:01 a.m. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit, which was originally set to move into orange alongside Ottawa, will instead start in the less-restrictive yellow zone.
The provincial framework does not inherently correlate to OPH’s, though the public health unit’s spokesperson said staff are looking into possibly aligning the systems to “ensure the simplest understanding” of the local dashboard.
The new orange zone will see indoor dining resume and gyms reopen in Ottawa, within certain limits.
The shift comes as Ottawa reaches the end of its 28-day lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus in the city.
While Ottawa’s infection rates appear to have stabilized, other provincial hot spots that entered the modified Stage 2, including Toronto and Peel Region, have seen the number of new COVID-19 cases rise over the course of the lockdown.
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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who was in Ottawa on Friday announcing plans to create 254 new beds to boost local hospital capacity, credited residents with taking action to curb the flatten the second wave of the pandemic.
“The people of Ottawa hunkered down,” Ford said Friday.
Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, has similarly thanked residents for heeding her warnings in late September to change behaviour and limit social contacts.
“Over the last several weeks, the actions you have taken have had a direct impact on our daily COVID-19 case counts and on the number of new outbreaks,” she said in a statement on Friday.
While she welcomes the reopening of businesses such as gyms and cinemas in Ottawa, she said the next phase of the pandemic should be treated “with caution and with care.”
She encouraged residents to go out to dinner, to see movies and to go to the gym, but to do so with precautions in place to limit transmission of the virus.
This includes only going out to dinner and a movie only with people in your immediate household, wearing a mask and keeping a distance of two metres while socializing with those outside your household bubble, and limiting sessions at the gym to an hour.
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