Over half of new August COVID-19 cases in Ottawa linked to households with confirmed case: Dr. Etches

OTTAWA —
Ottawa’s top doctor says over half of all new cases of COVID-19 in August are linked to households where someone was already infected with COVID-19 or close contact with a known case. 

Ottawa Public Health reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, bringing the total to 2,746. Since Aug. 1, there have been 207 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa.

“The picture is that cases have again decreased and they’ve been remaining relatively low since the beginning of August,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches during an interview on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Morning Rush with Bill Carroll.

“They’re actually similar to June levels.”

Dr. Etches says Ottawa Public Health is seeing a shift in who is infected with COVID-19.

“The initial cases in March were in older adults, and now they’re in mostly younger adults. We’re not seeing, fortunately, the deaths associated with COVID-19 infections, and the hospitalizations are stable.”

New data released on Wednesday shows Alta Vista and Gloucester-Southgate are the hardest hit wards by COVID-19 in Ottawa. Dr. Etches says the new cases are still arising across our city, with many cases linked to close contact with another case.

“Over half of these cases, they’re coming out of a household where somebody else has been infected or close contact,” said Dr. Etches.

“It is a hard infection to stop completely because people are infectious two days sometimes before they know they’re sick.  So imagine living in a household and someone gets sick, they may have already exposed other people in the household.”

Dr. Etches said it’s unclear why Ottawa Public Health is seeing spikes from eight cases one day to 19 cases another day.

“Most of them are sporadic and then they’re associated with that close contact. That close contact could be in a household or in people that are socializing together. Some cases continue to arise out of travel, if people have travelled to an area with higher rates,” said Dr. Etches on Wednesday morning.

“I should emphasize you won’t pick up the virus if you’re staying away from other people, keeping that two-metre distance. That’s very protective. It’s when you come closer to others outside of your social circle, that’s what increases the risk.”

Dr. Etches tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that people need to be “extra cautious” heading into the fall, and continue to practice physical distancing, wear a face mask and limit social contacts.

It’s just been over one month since Ottawa entered Stage 3 of the COVID-19 reopening plan, allowing restaurants to offer dine-in service, and movie theatres and gyms to open.

Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Bill Carroll asked if the fact Ottawa has had more cases than other cities is a sign Ottawa residents are getting more complacent during Stage 3.

“We are seeing a difference with Stage 3, not in the way that people expected. People thought as we went into Stage 3, we’d start to see outbreaks in workplaces because more workplaces are open. We’re not seeing it like that, we don’t have a lot of workplaces where we’re seeing transmission,” said Dr. Etches, noting businesses are taking things very seriously to avoid closing again.

“It’s more the interactions that people are having socially, that also has increased and people coming into closer contact with each other beyond their household.”

Correction:

Headline and lead line updated to make it clear cases are linked to all households with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and not a single household. 

CTV News Ottawa apologizes for the confusion. 

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