Ottawa's coronavirus wastewater level as high as peak of 1st Omicron wave

The average level of coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater has quickly reached the same level as the peak of the first Omicron wave this past January.

Last week saw one of highest levels reported; 3 more local residents with COVID-19 have died

People walk on Wellington Street near West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa earlier this month. (Vincent Yergeau/CBC)
  • Ottawa's coronavirus wastewater average continues its fast climb.
  • Hospitalization picture is mixed.
  • Test positivity is stable, outbreaks rise.
  • About 4,000 vaccine doses were given to residents in the last week.
  • Three COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the region.

Today's Ottawa update

The average level of coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater has quickly reached the same level as the peak of the first Omicron wave this past January. Only last spring did wastewater experts report a higher level.

Using data up to March 24, wastewater levels were more than five times higher than two weeks prior. Thursday also had one of the highest daily recordings on record; the eighth-highest to be specific.

These records don't include the first wave.

Researchers measuring the levels of novel coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater have found them rising 12 of the last 14 days, based on data up to March 24. (

Ten Ottawa residents are in local hospitals being treated for COVID-19, according to Monday's OPH update, with none in an ICU. 

These numbers have been stable this month.

Hospital numbers do not include people who came to hospital for other reasons and then tested positive for COVID-19. They also don't cover people with lingering COVID-19 problems, or patients transferred from other health units.

OPH shares those numbers a few times per week. They rose in the last update after several days of stability.

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 43 as of March 26, returning to the 40s for the first time in three weeks. (Ottawa Public Health)

Testing strategies have changed under the contagious Omicron variant, meaning many people with COVID-19 aren't reflected in the case count.

Officials have said they expect numbers to trend up as rules loosen. What is key is whether the increases become concerning.

On Monday, OPH reported 325 more COVID-19 cases over the last three days and two more deaths. One victim was in their 80s and the other age 90 or older.

The rolling weekly incidence rate of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, expressed per 100,000 residents, is around 70.

The health unit also reported 21 health-care outbreaks Monday, which has been rising. The province's 2022 testing strategy means it doesn't track other types of outbreaks.

The average positivity rate for those who received PCR tests outside long-term care homes is stable around 17 per cent. The average positivity in homes is stable around one per cent.

Weekly vaccine update

914,500: The number of Ottawa residents age five and up with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 637 more than in last Monday's weekly update. That's still 92 per cent of the eligible population.

876,951: The number of Ottawa residents age five and up with a second dose, 894 in the last week. Eighty-eight per cent of the eligible population has at least two doses.

560,671: The number of Ottawans age 12 and up with a third dose, 2,511 more in the last week. That's up to 62 per cent of these residents; younger children only qualify for third doses if they have certain health conditions.

Across the region

Communities outside of Ottawa have about 45 COVID-19 hospitalizations, while 10 of them require intensive care.

Neither of those numbers include Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, which reported a local hospitalization jump from 10 to 16 over the weekend. That's around where it was in the first week of March.

Leeds, Grenville and Lanark (LGL) counties reported their fifth COVID death of the last week, as well as 17 local COVID hospitalizations, which still leads the region.

Wastewater trends are stable across LGL. They vary across the Kingston area where two of the three sites report levels nearing the peak of the Omicron wave.