COVID levels stabilize for now in Ottawa after rise earlier in October

The steady growth of trends such as wastewater and test positivity this month has sputtered in the capital.

Smiths Falls has its highest wastewater reading in 9 months

Someone in a red jacket walks a dog through a wooded area with red and green leaves.
A person walks their dog through the fall foliage in Ottawa earlier this month. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa's COVID-19 trends are stable or dropping from previously high levels.
  • 10,600 vaccine doses received in Ottawa is an uptick from last week.
  • The wastewater average is at or near records in Leeds-Grenville-Lanark.

The latest guidance

Experts recommend people get their updated COVID booster vaccine for better protection against current coronavirus variants, getting a flu shot when it's available, staying home when sick and wearing a mask indoors and in crowded outdoor places.

While COVID vaccines and previous infection give some protection, that protection will wane and subvariants continue to emerge. There are also the risks of long COVID.

Hospital leaders continues to emphasize the pressure they're facing as cold and flu season hits during the pandemic.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said in its weekly Thursday check-in that COVID levels are high, the city has its first flu outbreak of the season at a group home and not enough people are donning masks.


The weekly average level of coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater was high as of the OPH update. It slowly rose from the start of September until mid-October, dropped for a week straight and has edged back up.

As of Oct. 23, the average is about five times higher than this time last year.

A bar and line graph of coronavirus wastewater levels since September 2021.
Researchers measuring and sharing the amount of novel coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater found the weekly average generally rose from the start of September until mid-October. The most recent data is from Oct. 23. (


Forty-one Ottawa residents have been admitted to a city hospital with COVID-19, according to OPH's latest update. Two are in intensive care. Both numbers are generally stable.

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.

When you include those kinds of patients, the number is stable.

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. (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 has risen since the start of September and reached 22 per cent late last week, which OPH considered very high. It's around 17 per cent in the Tuesday update.

There are currently 55 active COVID outbreaks in Ottawa. This is moderate, according to OPH, and generally stable.

OPH reported 287 more cases over four days and three more deaths of people with COVID ranging in age from their 60s to their 90s or older. A total of 919 Ottawa residents who had COVID have died.


Ottawa residents received about 10,600 COVID-19 vaccine doses over the last six days. That average of about 1,770 a day is higher than the previous week.

About 9,300 of last week's doses were fourth doses.

As of the most recent weekly update, 93 per cent of Ottawa residents aged five and up had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, 90 per cent had at least two and 61 per cent at least three.

Twenty-eight per cent of Ottawans aged 12 and older had at least four. All children aged 12 to 17 only became eligible last week; Ottawans in that age range got about 600 fourth doses from Oct. 18 to 23.

About 8,200 residents younger than five have had a first dose, which is about 18 per cent of Ottawa's population of that age group.

Across the region


As of the most recent update, Smiths Falls' coronavirus wastewater levels are its highest on record going back to late January 2022. Brockville and Smiths Falls are near their high-water marks.

A line graph of coronavirus wastewater levels.
As of Oct. 19, the average level of coronavirus measured in Smiths Falls wastewater was at its highest point in nine months. The last month is highlighted. (Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit)

Wastewater trends are dropping or stable in the Kingston area and high in Casselman. Data from other areas is out of date or unavailable.

The percentage of COVID tests coming back positive is high and stable both in the Kingston area at about 18 per cent and in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit around 14 per cent.

Hospitalizations and deaths

Western Quebec's health authority, CISSSO, reports a stable 86 COVID hospitalizations. Two of the patients are in intensive care.

Eastern Ontario communities outside Ottawa are reporting about 55 COVID hospitalizations, 14 of them in intensive care. About half of each are in the Kingston area.

That regional count doesn't include Hastings Prince Edward (HPE) Public Health, which has a different counting method. It reports 28 local COVID hospitalizations, the first weekly count below 30 since early September.

Eleven more deaths of people outside of Ottawa have been reported since Friday: four each in the Belleville and Kingston areas, two in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties and one east of Ottawa.

Everywhere but Ottawa has had more of these COVID deaths in 2022 than either 2020 or 2021.


Across eastern Ontario, between 81 and 92 per cent of residents age five and up have received at least two vaccine doses, and between 53 and 65 per cent of those residents have had at least three.

Residents have now received more than 5.9 million COVID vaccine doses across eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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