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Coronavirus restrictions: Ottawa COVID-19 indicators approaching red zone

A number of COVID-19 epidemiological trends in Ottawa are on the rise, which could set the city up for tighter restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ottawa could soon be in line for a shift to Ontario’s red zone with more stringent coronavirus restrictions in place, according to worrying epidemiological trends documented by the local public health unit.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, following increases of 80 cases on Sunday and 53 on Saturday.

One additional person has also died locally in connection with COVID-19, according to OPH, raising the city’s death toll of the pandemic to 437.

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The number of active cases in Ottawa is up to 477 compared with 439 as of Friday.

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The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is up to 56 as of Monday, compared with roughly 50 cases per day on Friday.

Ottawa moved back into the orange-restrict designation under Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening framework last Tuesday, but many of the city’s coronavirus monitoring indicators are trending closer towards the red-control zone.

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Ottawa’s coronavirus positivity rate is now up to 2.3 per cent, with 2.5 per cent listed as the province’s cutoff for the red zone.

The city’s weekly incidence rate is also up to 37.2 per 100,000 people as of Monday, with a rate of 40 or more qualifying regions for red.

Estimates of Ottawa’s R number, which refers to the number of additional people infected per average case of COVID-19, currently sits at a seven-day average of 1.15, with values greater than 1.2 warranting a move to red.

Also taken into consideration when moving a region into a more restrictive colour-coded zone is the capacity of the city’s health-care system and the local health unit’s contact tracing capabilities.

There are now 22 people in hospital with coronavirus infections in Ottawa, six of whom are in the intensive care unit (ICU). That compares with 21 overall COVID-19 patients and three in the ICU at the end of last week.

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OPH’s COVID-19 dashboard shows that 98 per cent of acute care beds are now occupied across Ottawa, as are 71 per cent of ICU beds.

OPH is also falling short of its contact tracing expectations, with 89 per cent of cases confirmed within a day and 82 per cent of close contacts reached within 24 hours. The typical person testing positive for COVID-19 also has an average 5.8 close contacts, according to the latest OPH contact tracing figures.
Under Ontario’s red-control designation, retailers and restaurants are still allowed to open but with tighter capacity limits.

Restaurants, meeting spaces, gyms and casinos are limited to 10 patrons indoors while social gatherings are restricted to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Theatres are closed to the public in the red zone.

New to the red restrictions are capacity limits of 75 per cent for grocers, convenience stores and pharmacies and limits of 50 per cent occupancy for all other retailers, including big box, hardware and liquor stores.

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Ottawa has so far administered 46,559 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine locally, out of a stated inventory of 48,460 doses received to date.