'Encouraging indicators' on COVID-19 in Ottawa: Etches
A man makes his way to a COVID-19 assessment centre setup at a city building Saturday, March 14, 2020 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA -- Ottawa's medical officer of health says there are "encouraging indicators" that the lockdown imposed on Dec. 26 is having an impact on the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa.
Ottawa Public Health reported 67 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the third straight day with fewer than 100 new cases of novel coronavirus. Ottawa's COVID-19 positivity rate was 3.5 per cent for the period of Jan. 13 to 19, down from 4.7 per cent for the period of Jan. 1 to Jan. 7.
"We are seeing a few encouraging indicators that the provincial shutdown measures which began in December are starting to have an impact on the COVID-19 situation here in Ottawa," said Dr. Vera Etches on Wednesday.
"We've begun to see improvements in our test positivity rates, fewer people are testing positive for COVID than in recent weeks, individuals have fewer close contacts and wastewater counts of the virus are no longer increasing."
While the current COVID-19 data would place Ottawa in Ontario's "Red" zone for restrictions, Dr. Etches said the improvements in the data should encourage us to "maintain the behaviours that are working" to stop COVID-19 transmission in the community.
On Jan. 12, Ontario declared a second provincial emergency, and imposed a stay-at-home order in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Until we have clear protection from vaccination, we do have the tools and we know what works to help slow that spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Etches, adding everyone's individual actions matter.
"We're aiming to get back to living with manageable COVID-19 levels where schools and more businesses are open. Keeping COVID-19 manageable will require attention to the basics for many months to come."
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Ontario government announced schools in Ottawa and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit will not be allowed to reopen on Monday for in-person classes. Schools have been closed for three weeks since the Christmas break.
Dr. Etches told reporters earlier in the day that Ottawa Public Health is ready to support the reopening of schools in Ottawa, if approved by the Ontario government.
"We appear to be turning the curve in Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health is ready to support a safer return to school," said Dr. Etches. "With added emphasis on the daily screening and testing for people with symptoms to keep COVID-19 out of schools."
Ottawa Public Health is working with local school boards to reinforce the infection prevention and control measures in schools.
"Reopening and keeping schools open is a top goal of our pandemic response," said Dr. Etches.