OTTAWA -- Just days before children return to school and adults return to work after summer vacation, Ottawa's top doctor is warning there are signs of another uptick of COVID-19 cases in Ottawa.

But Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches insists Ottawa residents can get through the spike in cases if everyone continues to do their part, including practicing physical distancing and wearing a mask indoors.

Ottawa Public Health reported 22 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the fourth straight day with a double-digit increase in cases.

Speaking with CTV News Ottawa, Dr. Etches said Ottawa Public Health is seeing a concerning trend with new cases for the second time this summer.

"Well we're in a time right now where we're starting to see signs of another uptick in cases in Ottawa," said Dr. Etches Thursday afternoon.

"That happened in July where we saw cases rise again and they came back down as people adopted more mask wearing and reminded themselves about keeping two metres from others."

Dr. Etches added, "So this is the world we're living in with rises and needing counter-measures. So just encourage everyone to keep doing their part, it does work. We will get through this together."

Ottawa Public Health has reported 354 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far in August. 

On Wednesday, Dr. Etches told Council that Ottawa Public Health was seeing a "different picture" with how COVID-19 is spreading.

"The biggest risk factor for people is the close contacts that we have."

Ottawa Public Health statistics show that since Aug. 1, 57 per cent of COVID-19 cases for residents ages 10 and 19 years old and 44.6 per cent of COVID cases for residents ages 20 to 29 were linked to close contact with a confirmed case.

Ottawa Public Health

Forty per cent of all COVID-19 cases for residents ages 30 to 49 in August are linked to household contacts.

Speaking on CTV Morning Live Thursday morning, Dr. Etches said the fact close contacts are the driving factor behind a lot of new cases shows the importance of following the COVID-19 measures.

"It points to the effectiveness of the behaviours that we've adopted in public spaces. The effectiveness of staying away from people two metres and using a mask in indoor spaces," said Dr. Etches.

"We know that it's hard, we need close contact with others. It's still valuable to think about the fact this is a virus that can be passed on when people don't know that they're ill. The more we can do physical distancing and limit our contacts who have that kind of close contact with us, the better."

Ottawa Public Health reminds people that socializing and household spread are key risks for resurgence. The health unit reminds everyone to be COVID-wise

W – Wear a mask

I – Isolate yourself when you're sick

S – Stay two metres apart from others

E – Exercise proper hand hygiene