COVID-19 numbers 'slightly improved,' but Ottawa will stay in orange zone for now: Etches
OTTAWA -- Ottawa’s coronavirus case count continues to buck the provincial trend, but don’t expect restrictions to loosen imminently.
“I think we’ll stay where we are in the orange ‘restrict’ level,” medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches told CTV Morning live on Thursday. “I’m looking at the numbers which have been similar to the week before—maybe slightly improved—and it’s not enough of a decline in COVID to push us into the yellow.”
As Ontario nears two weeks of daily case counts in quadruple digits, Ottawa’s new case count has decreased. Average new cases have hovered around 50 for the past two weeks. From Oct. 29 to Nov. 4, it was 71.5.
Ottawa is in the orange ‘Restrict’ zone, which places limits on restaurants, gyms, movie theatres and other businesses. The next stage, if things move in the right direction, is the yellow ‘Protect’ zone, which has slightly looser restrictions.
The city’s positivity rate was 2.2 per cent from Nov. 9 to 15 (Toronto, by comparison, is north of six per cent). But provincial guidelines say a positivity rate must decrease to at least 1.2 per cent before a region moves into the yellow zone.
“We still have to drop our rate of COVID in the community almost by half again, and our percent of people testing positive will need to come down quite a bit more,” Etches said.
Public health officials are now preparing for the arrival of a vaccine. Ontario health minister Christine Elliott said Wednesday that Ontario is expecting 2.4 million doses of two different COVID-19 vaccines early next year.
“A soon as the province of Ontario receives the vaccine, just like with influenza, they’ll want to ship it out to the local areas,” Etches said. “Our job then is vaccinate people as soon as we get it. So that’s what we’re working on.
“We need probably, there’s different estimates, but over 60 per cent of the population to have immunity to really be able to turn the pandemic around. So that’s a bit more than two million doses in Ontario, but we’ll take it and begin to protect those at greatest risk.”
Until then, it’s important to keep up the public health measures that have kept the second wave from spiralling out of control in Ottawa.
The usual messages apply: wash your hands, wear masks, and don’t gather indoors with people outside of your household.
“We have to keep our guard up,” Etches said. “This virus is all across our community, all ages, and it’s going to take a while for us to completely get rid of it. So we’ll have to keep up some measures for a while.”