'I'm worried': Ottawa's top doctor concerned rising COVID-19 rates could affect holiday plans
Ottawa's top doctor is urging people to limit activities with unvaccinated individuals indoors and where masks aren't used, warning rising levels of COVID-19 in the community could affect your holiday plans.
As Ottawa Public Health reports the highest number of new cases in over two months, medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches warns rising cases could lead to greater public health measures before Christmas and New Year's.
"I am concerned about the level of COVID in our community right now because of the trend," said Etches.
"The rapid rise that we are seeing this week in the numbers of people between the ages of 5 and 11 who are testing positive for COVID. We have seen from experience that this rise leads to rises in other age groups and can result in hospitalizations and, unfortunately, death."
Ottawa Public Health reported 74 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, the highest one-day case count since Sept. 26.
The 77 new cases on Wednesday followed 68 new cases on Tuesday and 55 new cases on Monday. Public health reported 13 new cases involving children under the age of 9 on Wednesday, and 14 cases on Tuesday.
"It's the social disruption that we're seeing right now, the number of outbreaks in elementary schools, the number of extracurricular activities that are being impacted and it really is about this population that's not vaccinated and the number of close contacts that people are having," said Etches.
Half Moon Bay Public School in Barrhaven is currently closed due to COVID-19, while there are COVID-19 outbreaks at 17 elementary schools and one secondary school.
At least 45 cases of COVID-19 are linked to an outbreak at the Barrhaven Martial Arts Centre.
"So I am worried, I think the time to take a look at how we can turn this around and decrease COVID transmission is now," said Dr. Etches.
"So specifically, what I would like to ask people to do is to pause and to think about putting limits on those activities where you are in contact with others who are not immunized indoors, where masks aren't used and to limit those activities. I am concerned if we don't that we will see the rates continue to affect holiday plans ...can lead to needs for greater measures."
The medical officer of health urges all residents to follow the 3 C's to limit COVID-19 transmission.
"Avoid crowds, avoid closed spaces where there's not a lot of ventilation, and avoid close contact."
COVID-19 booster shots are currently available for thousands of Ottawa residents, including residents over 70 and health care workers.
"That booster shot is recommended. It is something that is worth seeking out for that added protection," said Dr. Etches, adding there is still a "lot of capacity" for children aged 5 to 11 to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.