Physical distancing making a difference, Ottawa health officials say

Data suggests physical distancing measures are helping slow the spread of COVID-19 cases in Ottawa, public health officials said Tuesday.

City tops 600 confirmed cases, but more than 200 have now recovered

Data suggests physical distancing measures are helping slow the spread of COVID-19 cases in Ottawa, public health officials said Tuesday.

Dr. Doug Manuel of The Ottawa Hospital said it's now taking 12 days for the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals to double, much longer than the two to four days it took at the beginning of the pandemic.

"It's slowing, and that's definitely a reflection of physical distancing," Manuel said during a teleconference with public health officials and reporters.

There are currently 42 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Ottawa hospitals, 16 of whom are in intensive care. 

Death toll rises to 12 in Ottawa

Ottawa's COVID-19 death toll now stands at 12 — with all but one of the dead over the age of 65. 

There are 33 new confirmed cases in the city, bringing the total to 619. Health officials have said there are likely thousands more undiagnosed cases in the community.

Brent Moloughney, an associate medical officer of health, said Tuesday that while testing everyone with symptoms would be good "hypothetically," it's not pragmatic on a large scale.

For now, Ottawa is focused on testing people who have symptoms and work in essential services, live with a health-care worker or meet other criteria such as being in a late stage of pregnancy or having close contact with a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case.

Practically speaking, there are barriers to testing everyone with symptoms, Moloughney said, including a limited supply of reagents and swabs, materials needed to process tests. 

219 recovered

"The key that we're doing in terms of a strategy at the moment is with physical distancing to reduce that community transmission, and of course to do case and contact management of the cases that we're aware of, particularly in high-risk groups," he said. 

OPH said 219 people who had COVID-19 have now recovered and are clear to leave isolation, an increase of 19 from Monday.

Last Tuesday, OPH said there were 403 confirmed cases in the city, and two weeks ago the tally sat at 144. The health agency tracks cases based primarily on when patients first experienced symptoms, rather than on the date they tested positive, which accounts for certain discrepancies in its figures.

Region surpasses 1,000 cases

There are now more than 1,125 cases in the wider region of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

The deaths of 25 people in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, and two more in the wider region, have been tied to COVID-19.

From what we know, more than 300 people out of that regional total have recovered, but some local health units don't share that data.

Confirmed cases represent only a fraction of the actual number because of limited testing. Public health officials say there are likely thousands more undiagnosed cases of COVID-19.

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