Dr. Vera Etches says it seems Ottawa's 3rd COVID-19 wave is coming

Ottawa's medical officer of health said Friday it seems the city's third wave is coming, and is asking people to maintain physical distancing to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Medical officer of health says not to let guard down after positive vaccine news

Dr. Vera Etches will provide an update on the Ottawa's response to COVID-19 at 7:30 a.m. (CBC)

Ottawa's medical officer of health said Friday it seems the city's third wave is coming, and is asking people to maintain physical distancing to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"It looks like [a third wave] is coming. It's apparent in the wastewater and that's been a pretty reliable predictor," said Dr. Vera Etches in an interview on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

Etches said the spread is being driven in social settings and people can't get complacent with behaviour such as distancing and wearing masks because of positive news about vaccines.

It will still be a few months until vaccination has an impact on the general population, she said.

Wastewater concerns

On Wednesday, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) warned it's seeing a rise in the number of people believed to have one of the more contagious variants.

So far, 10 people have tested positive for variants of concern first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

But according to Etches, 73 more people have a genetic indicator after initial screening that could signal they've contracted one of the variants.

Wastewater testing now suggests there could be more of the variant first identified in the U.K.

"We would expect to see [traces of variants] in our wastewater when it crosses a threshold of detection that may be as high as 50 to 100 active infections and what we have in our numbers of people testing is about 25 active infections," she said.

"It points to what we know happens. There is COVID in the community that is undetected. People don't realize that mild infection could be COVID and it could be passed on."

WATCH | Dr. Vera Etches on Ottawa Morning:

The health authority also said some of the city's key indicators, used to track the spread of the virus, are also trending closer to the red zone on the province's pandemic scale.

Such a move would mean stricter restrictions such as smaller gatherings and sports being limited to practices.

Vaccinations starting

At the same time, vaccine appointments were made available to more Ottawans this week. The first clinic opened Friday morning at the Albion-Heatherington Recreation Centre.

Appointments are open for those who are 80 years or older and individuals who are recipients of chronic home care in one of seven neighbourhoods:

  • Emerald Woods. 
  • Heatherington.
  • Ledbury.
  • Heron Gate. 
  • Ridgemont.
  • Riverview. 
  • Sawmill Creek. 

Eligible people must call 613-691-5505 to make an appointment.

The Albion-Heatherington Recreation Centre clinic will run until Sunday, and then three other clinics will open in other high-risk neighbourhoods on a staggered basis. 

Mayor Jim Watson said about 1,600 people have already booked appointments and the city expects to vaccinate about 150 people per day in the high-risk neighbourhoods.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now