OTTAWA -- Ottawa's medical officer of health warns the risk of being infected with COVID-19 in Ottawa is 20 times higher for unvaccinated residents than for vaccinated people.

Dr. Vera Etches provided an update on the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa Thursday morning, warning the Delta variant is driving the COVID-19 increase in Ottawa, accounting for 60 per cent of new cases.

New statistics show between July 4 and Aug. 7, 112 cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa involved unvaccinated residents, six cases were in residents who had received their first dose but were not yet protected and 36 cases of COVID-19 were identified in Ottawa residents who had received one dose.

Dr. Etches says there were 14 "breakthrough" cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated residents.

"Of the eligible population, the risk of being infected in an unvaccinated person is more than 20 times than that of a person who is vaccinated." 

Ottawa Public Health says the rate of COVID-19 cases in unvaccinated residents is 67 cases per 100,000 people, compared with 19 cases per 100,000 people with one shot. The rate of COVID-19 cases in fully vaccinated residents is 3 cases per 100,000 people.

Etches has set a goal to have over 90 per cent of Ottawa's eligible population fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

"I want to encourage us to keep going, the more we reach our goal of 90 per cent or more vaccinated the easier it will be go through the fall without a serious resurgence that again pressures our hospitals," said Dr. Etches.

"And it's not just about vaccinations. It makes a difference when we wear our masks, when we limit our contacts."

As of Wednesday, 84 per cent of Ottawa residents 12 and older had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 77 per cent are fully vaccinated.

DELTA VARIANT

The Delta variant is driving the increase in COVID-19 cases in Ottawa and Ontario this summer. Ottawa Public Health reports 60 per cent of people who have tested positive over the past month had the Delta variant, while over 90 per cent of cases identified with variants or mutants of interest from the week of Aug. 8 to 14 were linked to the Delta variant.

Dr. Etches says the OPH plan to counter the Delta variant includes decreasing barriers to getting a COVID-19 vaccine and encouraging businesses to adopt vaccination policies for staff.

"What we're aiming for is to have a population that is immune enough that we can handle the COVID-19 in the community and resurgences that can happen due to different kinds of variants. And what we're saying is we're not quite there yet," said Etches on Thursday.

"It's because the Delta variant is more transmissible, it's making it harder to have that level of immunity that ensures we can handle things from vaccination alone and the other immunity that we have in the community."

The OPH plan to get to 90 per cent vaccination coverage includes,

  • Neighbourhood vaccine hubs
  • Mobile vaccine clinics
  • Community clinics

SLOW TREK TO 90 PER CENT

Ottawa's medical officer of health admits it could be fall before we reach the 90 per cent threshold for vaccinations.

"We are still seeing people come out for their first dose, it's about 5,000 people a week are coming forward for their first dose. That is a slow process and so it wouldn't get us to our 90 per cent coverage rate until the end of October," said Dr. Etches.

"So we are wanting people to understand that is not as desirable as being protected before we see people enter into more indoor environments and a greater risk of more COVID in the community."

Correction:

Ottawa Public Health says over 90 per cent of cases with variants or mutations of interest from the week of Aug. 8 to 14 were linked to the Delta variant, not 90 per cent of all cases last week as previously reported.

CTV News Ottawa regrets the error.