COVID-19 trends slide further from early winter spike

A skier on a snowy path at either sunrise or sunset.
A person cross-country skis on the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail along the Ottawa River in Ottawa Jan. 23, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa’s COVID-19 trends are stable or dropping.
  • Test positivity, wastewater have recovered from the early winter spike.
  • Four more local residents with COVID have died.

The latest 

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says recent downward trends are encouraging, but the city’s respiratory virus level remains high overall and it’s still worthwhile to reduce risks.

Experts strongly recommend people wear masks indoors and, in Ontario, in the days after having COVID symptoms. Staying home when sick and being up-to-date with COVID and flu vaccines also help protect vulnerable people.

CBC Ottawa takes a look at COVID trends on Tuesdays and Fridays. A broader look at respiratory illnesses comes on Wednesdays: overall, respiratory virus activity was seen as dropping.

Wastewater

Data from the research team says the weekly average level of coronavirus in Ottawa’s wastewater, as of Jan. 19, had dropped seven of the last eight days.

Levels are back where they were before a spike around the new year.

A bar and line graph of coronavirus wastewater levels since December 2021.
Researchers measuring and sharing the amount of novel coronavirus in Ottawa’s wastewater found it rising for about six weeks until the second week of January. The most recent data is from Jan. 19, 2023. (613covid.ca)

Hospitals

OPH’s count of active, local COVID-19 hospital patients is stable at 32, according to Tuesday’s update, with three patients in intensive care. Those numbers have been at a similar level for more than a month.

There is another count that includes other patients, such as people admitted for other reasons who then test positive for COVID, those admitted for lingering COVID complications, and those transferred from other health units.

That number has been generally stable this month. It’s hit 100 for the first time in about five weeks.

A graphic breaking down Ottawa COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Ottawa Public Health has a COVID-19 hospital count that shows all hospital patients who tested positive for COVID, including those admitted for other reasons, and who live in other areas. It has generally been around 80 or 90 this month. (Ottawa Public Health)

Tests, outbreaks and deaths

Ottawa’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is stable around 15 per cent. OPH considers this high. Testing strategies changed at the end of 2021 and many cases aren’t reflected in counts.

There are 27 active COVID outbreaks in Ottawa, according to OPH. That number has been slowly dropping this month.

OPH reported 139 more COVID cases over four days and the death of someone age 90 or above who had COVID. In all, 1,004 Ottawa residents who had COVID have died since the start of the pandemic.

Vaccines

With updated 2023 population numbers from the province, 32 per cent of Ottawans age 12 and older have had their most recent dose within the last six months, as is generally recommended, with older age groups having higher rates.

This does not factor in immunity from getting COVID.

An infographic of how recently Ottawa residents have had their last COVID-19 vaccine. It includes stacked bar graphs by age group.
Ottawa Public Health shares when residents age 12 and up last had a COVID-19 vaccine. (Ottawa Public Health)

As of the most recent weekly update, 85 per cent of Ottawa residents had at least one COVID vaccine dose, 82 per cent had at least two, 56 per cent at least three and 31 per cent at least four.

About 9,700 residents younger than five have had a first dose, which is about 21 per cent of Ottawa’s population of that age group. About 5,400, or 12 per cent, have had two.

About 2,800 vaccine doses were given in the last week, which is less than each of the previous two weeks.

Across the region

Spread

The coronavirus wastewater average in the Kingston area is stable, with recent signs of a rise. In the three sites in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, it’s generally stable, and it’s the same trend in Casselman.

Data for other areas outside Ottawa is out of date or unavailable.

The average COVID test positivity drops to 14 per cent in the Belleville area. It rises to 14 per cent in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU).

The EOHU’s COVID risk level is considered low.

Hospitalizations and deaths

Eastern Ontario communities outside Ottawa report about 35 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with three patients in intensive care.

That regional count doesn’t include Hastings Prince Edward (HPE) Public Health, which has a different counting method. It has a stable 12 local COVID hospitalizations.

Western Quebec’s health authority, CISSSO, reports 101 COVID hospitalizations. That’s been around that number since December. One of the patients is in intensive care.

Two more COVID deaths were reported by HPE. It’s now reported a total of 103 of these deaths.

Vaccines

The Kingston area’s health unit says that 33 per cent of its population age five and up have had a booster vaccine in the last six months. That number is 27 per cent in HPE and unavailable elsewhere.

Across eastern Ontario, between 82 and 93 per cent of residents age five and up have received at least two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and between 53 and 66 per cent of those residents have had at least three.

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