Ottawa COVID-19 levels high, poised for increase, Etches says

As many summer vacations come to an end, COVID-19 levels in Ottawa are high and poised for some sort of increase, according to its medical officer of health.

12 more COVID deaths reported, including 6 in western Quebec

A cyclist reflected in a puddle on a cloudy day.
A cyclist along Dows Lake in Ottawa July 24, 2022. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa's coronavirus wastewater average, COVID-19 hospitalizations are stable.
  • Its average test positivity and number of outbreaks drop.
  • Twelve more COVID deaths reported in the region.

The latest Ottawa update

Ottawa's medical officer of health told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Tuesday that COVID levels remain high in the city and will be increasing.

"I think that we are certainly going to see more COVID again as the connections between people grow," said Dr. Vera Etches.

"It's not just in schools, our experience has been it's the crowding before school, after school, it's the social connections in homes … it's all the different indoor sports activities. All of these things come together, it's not necessarily the classroom itself."

WATCH | Dr. Etches' late-summer pandemic update:

Screen for symptoms and consider wearing a mask indoors as school resumes, OPH says

9 months ago
Duration 1:37
Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, says parents should screen their children for symptoms before sending them to school and that wearing masks indoors is still encouraged.

Etches said that as summer vacations come to an end for many and school resumes, people should still think about layers of protection against getting and spreading COVID to vulnerable people.

She asked people to stay home when sick — which also helps curb the spread of other illnesses — stay up-to-date on COVID vaccines and wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces.

Ottawa Public Health said in its weekly update last Thursday that the seventh pandemic wave has not ended.

Very soon students across the capital will be back in school … starting with the French boards today. What do you need to know at this point in the pandemic? Dr Vera Etches has some advice.


The weekly average level of coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater remains high and relatively stable.

It rose for a month starting in early June, dropped for a month until early August and has plateaued for nearly three weeks as of the last update Aug. 28. There's been a slight decline in the last five days.

That average is about five times higher than at this point in 2021 and about twice what it was two years ago.

A bar and line graph of coronavirus wastewater levels since June 2020.
Researchers measuring and sharing the amount of novel coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater found the weekly average most recently peaked July 10. The most recent data is from Aug. 28. (


Twenty-nine Ottawa residents have been admitted to a city hospital with COVID-19, according to OPH's latest update. That's more than reported in the last update Friday, but generally stable for about two weeks.

One patient is in intensive care.

The hospitalization figures above don't include all patients. For example, they leave out patients admitted for other reasons who then test positive for COVID-19, those admitted for lingering COVID-19 complications, and those transferred from other health units.

The number that includes those kinds of patients has been dropping since mid-July.

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. There were 82 as of July 10, spiking to 168 July 17 and now 87 about six weeks later. (Ottawa Public Health)

Tests, outbreaks and cases

Testing strategies changed under the Omicron variant, meaning many COVID-19 cases aren't reflected in current counts. Public health officials now only track and report outbreaks in health-care settings.

Ottawa's test positivity rate drops to 10 per cent. It is down from 14 per cent in Friday's update and 19 per cent at the start of the month, but not yet back to where it was before this seventh wave.

There are currently 33 active COVID outbreaks in Ottawa. That number has been dropping this month but is also not back to where it was in early-to-mid June.

OPH reported 184 more cases and the deaths of two more people in their 80s who had COVID over the last four days.


As of the most recent weekly update, 93 per cent of Ottawa residents age five and up had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 89 per cent had at least two.

Sixty-five per cent of Ottawans age 12 and over had at least three doses, and 21 per cent had four.

About 7,500 Ottawa residents got a vaccine in the last week, the vast majority of them fourth doses.

Across the region

Wastewater levels are declining from brief spikes in Smiths Falls and Kemptville, and are stable in Brockville, Casselman and Hawkesbury. They're slowly rising in Kingston and stable to its west.

Other data is out of date or unavailable.

Western Quebec's health authority CISSSO reported six more COVID deaths Tuesday for a total of 117 so far in 2022. Three more of these deaths would make this year its deadliest for reported COVID deaths, passing 2020.

CISSSO is reporting 100 COVID hospitalizations there, a slight one-day drop. Three of those patients are in intensive care.

Eastern Ontario communities outside Ottawa are reporting about 45 COVID hospitalizations, including five patients in intensive care.

That doesn't include Hastings Prince Edward (HPE) Public Health, which has a different counting method. Its COVID hospitalizations rise back up to 23 after a one-week drop, reaching their highest level since May.

Two more of its residents with COVID have died for a total of 67, most of them reported in 2022.

The EOHU reported its 111th COVID death of 2022, which is its 245th overall, and the Kingston area's health unit reported its 71st overall COVID death — 43 of them this year.

About 20 per cent of COVID-19 tests are coming back positive under Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health.

Across eastern Ontario, between 81 and 92 per cent of residents age five and up have received at least two vaccine doses and between 57 and 68 per cent of residents age 12 and up have had at least three.

The total number of vaccine doses given to local residents has passed 5.7 million.