Looks like COVID-19 transmission 'slowing down' in Ottawa: medical officer of health
OTTAWA -- As Ottawa sees an eighth straight day with less than 100 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, the top doctor suggests there are signs COVID-19 transmission is slowing down in the community.
Ottawa Public Health reported 60 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with four more deaths linked to the virus. The last day with a triple-digit increase in COVID-19 cases in Ottawa was Thanksgiving Monday, with 119 new cases.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said public health has not seen a spike in cases linked to Thanksgiving last week.
"It does look like transmission is slowing down in our community," said Dr. Etches.
"I want to thank everybody for that. Not being able to gather at Thanksgiving was a challenge, I’m sure, but people making those sacrifices is what’s going to turn this around, and I’m hopeful that we’re starting to see that.”
Dr. Etches said Ottawa Public Health data shows the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the number of cases have remained steady.
"There's other data sources we're looking at to let us know is COVID increasing in the community or not. It's not just the numbers presenting or testing positive," said Dr. Etches.
"So we look at the percent that are positive of all the people who are tested, that per cent that are positive is stable right now. It used to be increasing, when that's increasing it's a sign there's more COVID-19 growing in the community – now it's stable."
Dr. Etches says the COVID-19 wastewater data looking at COVID-19 in the sewage system shows the level of virus is no longer going up steeply.
"That is indication the actual amount of the virus in the community is not growing like it was," said Dr. Etches.
Keeping an eye on COVID-19 in the sewers
Last week, researchers at CHEO and the University of Ottawa warned high-levels of COVID-19 were found in Ottawa's wastewater.
CHEO researcher Alex MacKenzie tells CTV News at Five with Matt Skube that the rate of novel coronavirus in Ottawa's sewage has stabilized after last week's concerning numbers.
"It doubled (last week); we were all concerned and locked in. Now, it looks like it has gone back down. It's still high, it's still as it was back on Oct. 9, so very high but it has come down," said MacKenzie.
"That's encouraging. We're looking in a rear-view mirror, so this is just about 10 days ago. The Thanksgiving numbers should be coming on-stream in the next couple of days so we'll have to watch that as well. So it does seem to be a bit encouraging."
CTV News at Five anchor Matt Skube asked if the data from Ottawa's wastewater shows residents listened to the pleas from health officials to limit social contacts over Thanksgiving.
"People were listening and it looks like we've been rewarded accordingly. We'll have to see how the next couple of days reflect in the actual Thanksgiving goes, but that's how it looks like to us," said MacKenzie.
"It's wastewater, we're learning it as we go along. There's always fluctuation, but that's very much the trend. As we've said in the past, It's independent from the individual testing, so it's a very useful, real-time data source."