Ottawa

Infection rate continues to slide despite broader COVID-19 testing

The rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 continues to slow in Ottawa despite the testing criteria having been expanded to include anyone with symptoms.

Anyone with symptoms of the respiratory illness caused by the virus can now be tested in Ottawa

People ride their bikes on the westbound lane of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway in Ottawa on Monday, May 18, 2020. Ottawa Public Health's latest COVID-19 report shows the pace of the illness's spread continues to slow in the city. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 continues to slow in Ottawa despite the testing criteria having been expanded to include anyone with symptoms.

The city's top public health official announced on May 13 that anyone exhibiting signs of COVID-19 can and should get tested.

Until then, only people who fell into certain categories such as seniors or health-care workers could get swabbed, limiting the testing pool.

Now, even though anyone exhibiting a wide range of symptoms of the virus is eligible for a swab, Ottawa Public Health's latest report shows that hasn't resulted in a spike in positive tests, as some were expecting.

On Tuesday, OPH reported one new death and 22 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city. In April, there were routinely 40 to 60 new cases each day, and death tolls sometimes reached double digits.

A model based on OPH data and developed by the University of Toronto's Ashleigh Tuite and David Fisman, along with the University of Guelph's Amy Greer, shows the city tracking along a curve that peaked weeks ago. 

A graph created by epidemiologists shows Ottawa's number of daily reported COVID-19 cases and the cumulative cases against their model. (Ashleigh Tuite, David Fisman and Amy Greer, University of Toronto and University of Guelph)

Institutional outbreaks are still responsible for more than half of infections in Ottawa, with 53 per cent occurring in retirement homes and long-term care homes, according to Tuesday's update.

There are currently 22 institutional outbreaks in Ottawa, 20 of which are in retirement or long-term care homes. One is at the Place Besserer group home, while another is in the acute care ward at the Queensway Carleton Hospital.

The total number of lab-confirmed positive cases in Ottawa is now 1,824, and 202 people have died.

There have been nearly 3,000 known cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec. The  majority — more than 2,000 — are now reported as resolved.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Ottawa. Previously, she worked as a reporter in Winnipeg and as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

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