What you need to know, at a glance
- Ottawa has made ‘important progress’ in fight against COVID-19, Dr. Vera Etches says
- Data indicates residents were taking action to ‘bend the curve … two, even three weeks ago before restrictions were introduced’
- Medical officer of health urges continued vigilance as fight continues
- Jim Watson says he and Etches are consulting with business, BIAs and others for ‘made-in-Ottawa’ regulations once modified Stage 2 measures expire
- New federal projections suggest that Canadians need to cut a quarter of their contacts to keep the COVID-19 outbreak from resurging.
- Premier Doug Ford says he will ask health experts to come up with a plan next week to “safely” ease business restrictions after the 28-day period of modified stage 2 measures expires
- Ontario reported 896 new cases of COVID-19 Friday morning
- There were nine new deaths, three of them residents of long-term care
- 64 new cases were reported among residents and 18 among staff in the LTC sector
- 314 Ontarians were in hospital, 75 in intensive care and 52 on ventilators.
- Toronto was once again hardest hit, with 314 new cases reported.
- There were 173 new cases in Peel Region, 115 in York Region and in Peel, 115 in York Region
- Ottawa reported 97 new cases, up sharply from 58 new cases Thursday. There were two additional deaths
- A COVID-19 outbreak has closed the Etobicoke constituency office of Premier Doug Ford
- “The premier has not visited the office in the past two weeks and has had no exposure.”
- 27 new cases were reported in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, three in Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District and six at Renfrew County and District health
- Leeds, Grenville and Lanark medical officer of health Dr. Paula Stewart advises residents not to go to nearby Ottawa
- Quebec reported 952 new cases of COVID-19
- Eighteen new deaths were reported, four in the previous 24 hours
- Hospitalizations increased by six to reach 515, 81 in intensive care
- There were 32 more cases in the Outaouais, and one new death
Ottawa has made “important progress” in the fight against COVID-19, with positive tests, school outbreaks and hospitalizations “stabilizing,” weeks after the capital registered the highest rate of infections in the province, Ottawa’s medical officer of health said Friday.
“The data we are seeing today tells me that two, even three weeks ago before restrictions were introduced, you took action to bend the curve,” Dr. Vera Etches said in a statement. “And it’s working.”
When the province imposed modified Stage 2 restrictions Oct. 10, Ottawa had “exponential” growth of people testing positive, virus levels in sewage were “increasingly concerning,” hospitalizations and outbreaks were rising fast and deaths increasing, Etches said.
“Because of your actions we are starting to see some stabilization.”
But while fewer outbreaks were reported this week, there are still a “high” number of ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities and transmission of the virus is happening everywhere in the community, including in our homes.
“It is our individual actions and behaviours that are driving the spread regardless of setting,” Etches said. “And, the higher the level of COVID-19 in the community the more likely it is to overflow into our long-term care homes, schools and hospitals.”
She warned people to reduce interactions, to keep staying two metres apart, wearing masks with people outside their household and staying home when sick. Everyone should also be “checking their blindspots” of letting their guard down around family, friends and colleagues who aren’t part of their household.
“The take-home message: To keep our COVID-19 numbers down, we must all keep our guards up,” Etches said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Jim Watson says he expects to receive recommendations from Etches early next week about the operation of businesses currently rolled back under a modified Stage 2.
On Twitter, the mayor noted that he and Etches “are consulting with local businesses, BIAs and health professionals on a sustainable made-in-Ottawa approach” for business once the modified Stage 2 regulations expire.
A provincially mandated 28-day order is keeping gyms and indoor dining at restaurants closed until at least Nov. 6.
Statistics released Thursday by the province showed restaurant and bars represented only two per cent of outbreaks in Ottawa over a roughly three-month span starting in August. Gyms and sports activities accounted for five per cent of the outbreaks.
City council last week called on the province to release the data underpinning the decision to roll back part of Ottawa’s economy. Watson wrote to Ford telling the premier of council’s resolution, but the mayor said Friday morning that he hadn’t heard back yet.
Ottawa Public Health reported 97 new COVID-19 cases and two new deaths bringing the total to 323. Of 42 people in hospital, four were in intensive care.
Active cases totalled 698 with 5,906 cases resolved.
There were no new outbreaks reported in congregated living facilities, but 60 continuing outbreaks included 42 in health-care institutions, 15 in daycares and schools, and three in the community, all of the latter in workplaces.
Premier Doug Ford confirmed Friday that he will ask the province’s health experts to come up with a plan next week to “safely” ease restrictions to allow businesses to reopen after the 28-day period of modified stage 2 measures imposed on hotspots, including Ottawa, expire.
Ford said that the “difficult” measures, never intended to be long-term, were aimed at staving off more drastic lockdowns like some European countries are now imposing in response to surging cases. The province’s solutions are working, he said.
“Based on the latest evidence, based on what I’m seeing in the modelling, I have asked our public health experts to come back next week with a plan to begin to ease restrictions in a way that safely allows businesses to start opening back up after the 28 day period is over,” Ford said.
“I want the health officials to come up with a plan that lets businesses operate safely because we don’t know how long this virus will be with us.”
But thanks to the measures imposed as intensive-care bed use spiked, for example, now “we aren’t doing too bad compared to the rest of the world,” Ford said, pointing to Ottawa as an example.
“They had the largest percentage of spread anywhere in this country (when the measures were imposed) and I was really, really concerned and so was the health team,” he said.
“I want to congratulate the people of Ottawa because now we see the trend going the other way.”
However, Ontario’s associate medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe sounded a cautious tone.
“The numbers are still going up but they’re going up slower, so what’s it’s saying to us is we can look at perhaps modifying the conditions,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean everyone can loosen up on everything we all need to do. Don’t go out if you’re sick, wash your hands, wear a mask if you can’t stay at least two metres away from people.”
Health officials aim to prevent spread, illness and death, keep schools open and safe, and protect the most vulnerable, such as people in long-term care and retirement homes, Yaffe said.
Restaurants and gyms are places people can congregate inside for significant periods of time and take off their masks to eat or exercise, potentially breathing heavily while working out.
“So those are the conditions that are very amenable to transmission of this virus,” Yaffe said.
“When you get an outbreak in a school or a long-term care facility, it didn’t come from nowhere — it came from the community.
“And we know that the settings where people get it tend to be settings where people spend time together indoors for extended periods of time. So that is really the rationale for why we focussed in on restaurants, bars and gyms.”
Health officials are reviewing the data and looking at factors including case numbers, positive test rates, and capacity for testing, contact tracing and hospitalizations.
“We’re trying to balance the risks and benefits of each measure that we take recognizing that each of them does have potential negative consequences but on the other hand if we don’t do them, things could be a lot worse,” Yaffe said.
Ontario is reporting 896 cases of COVID-19 Friday morning, down slightly from 934 new cases on Thursday.
The province reported nine new deaths, three of them residents of long-term care.
Sixty-four new cases were reported among residents and 18 among staff in the LTC sector provincewide.
A total of 314 Ontarians were in hospital, 74 in intensive care and 52 on ventilators.
Toronto was once again hardest hit, with 314 new cases reported.
There were 173 new cases in Peel Region, 115 in York Region and in Peel, 115 in York Region.
There were 796 more resolved cases and more than 41,000 tests were completed.
Meanwhile, a COVID-19 outbreak has closed the Etobicoke constituency office of Premier Doug Ford.
“Toronto Public Health has confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff members of Premier Ford’s constituency office,” the premier’s spokesperson Ivana Yelich said Friday in a statement, confirming a published report.
“The premier has not visited the office in the past two weeks and has had no exposure.”
The office will be closed “for the foreseeable future” with services and support offered virtually, the statement said.
“We thank the premier’s constituents for their patience,” Yelich said.
In other health units in the Ottawa area: 27 new cases were reported in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit — double the previous day — while there were three new cases reported by the Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit. There were six cases reported from the Renfrew County and District Health, which had no new cases the previous day.
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark medical officer of health Dr. Paula Stewart has some simple advice for residents of the district who live close to Ottawa:
“Don’t go where the virus is.”
Stewart said about half of the active COVID cases in the region are from eastern Lanark.
Many residents of that area work in Ottawa, or have relocated from the city, she said.
They still have friends, colleagues in Ottawa and have such services as their hairdresser or barber there.
Quebec has recorded 952 new cases of COVID-19, the provincial government announced Friday.
In addition, the province added 156 previously unreported cases that occurred before July 27.
Eighteen new deaths were reported – four occurred in the last 24 hours, 11 between Oct. 23 and 28, and three on unknown dates. One death was removed from the total because an investigation determined it was not related to COVID-19.
The number of hospitalizations increased by six to reach 515. Among those, 81 are in intensive care – an increase of three.
There were 32 more cases in the Outaouais, bringing the confirmed case count to 2,421. There was one new death reported, for a total of 42 since the pandemic began.
New federal projections suggest that Canadians need to cut a quarter of their contacts to keep the COVID-19 outbreak from resurging.
The modelling indicates that at current rates of in-person socializing, Canada could see COVID-19 case counts increase to 8,000 per day by early December.
Public health officials say a 25 per cent reduction in contacts could control the spread of the virus in most locations.
Canada’s chief public health officer says further restrictions and closures may be needed in communities where the virus is surging.
Dr. Theresa Tam says more regions have reported increased rates of infection over the past two weeks, with 26 Indigenous communities reporting two or more active COVID-19 cases.
The forecasts predict that Canada’s total COVID-19 count could reach 262,000 cases and 10,400 deaths by Nov. 8.
-With files from Postmedia and The Canadian Press