Ottawa officially in COVID-19 pandemic's 2nd wave, says city's medical officer of health

Ottawa's medical officer of health says the city is experiencing its second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another 63 cases were confirmed in the nation's capital Friday.

New high for 5-day average of confirmed cases in the nation's capital

Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches, left, speaks with Mayor Jim Watson earlier this month. On Friday, Etches said that rising numbers of COVID-19 cases show that the nation's capital is now in the second wave of the pandemic. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa's medical officer of health has indicated the city is experiencing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked by a reporter whether Ottawa is experiencing a second wave, Dr. Vera Etches said Friday that yes, she believes the city is. 

"It's the speed of the increase that concerns us. We can't sustain a rapid rise in cases," she said.

At a news conference on Friday, Etches defined the second wave as a growing percentage of people testing positive along with the number of people getting tested.

"The idea of a wave is that the number of COVID tests that are positive, the number of people who are carrying the virus in our community is growing," Etches said. "So we see an increase in the number being detected."

Etches said what's causing the virus to spread is people's actions with close contacts, families and gatherings.

WATCH | Dr. Vera Etches on how to identify a second wave: 

How to identify a 'second wave' of COVID-19 infections

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Duration 1:11
Featured VideoOttawa's medical officer of health Vera Etches explains what the phrase "second wave" really means and how to identify when it happens.

"The challenge comes when that growth is too rapid and if it is sustained," she said.

The confirmation comes as Ottawa Public Health (OPH) confirmed 63 new cases of COVID-19 in the city on Friday, bringing the number of residents who've tested positive to 3,549.

There have been 322 newly confirmed cases in this week's OPH reports, the second-highest weekly total since the start of the pandemic.

The 574 cases so far in September are just seven shy of May's figures, and the monthly total may eventually come close to the 1,103 cases logged in April.

The city's rolling five-day average of the number of people diagnosed each day is now 55, surpassing the previous high set in late April.

Etches said the recent numbers show Ottawans got a bit too "relaxed" in August, but she's confident the city can bring the numbers back down again. 

"People in Ottawa, they've done it before. They did it in the first wave, but they did it in July as well when we started to see an increase," she said.

"[The number of positive cases] came back down when people increased the distance between each other."

WATCH | How long wave will last 'up to us,' Etches says:

How long will Ottawa’s new wave of cases last? That’s up to us, OPH says

3 years ago
Duration 0:59
Featured VideoVera Etches, medical officer of health, says the number of cases in this latest wave of COVID-19 infections will depend on how many people adhere to physical distancing and mask wearing requirements.

The full Friday report from OPH notes that 25 additional cases are now considered resolved, for a total of 2,918.

There are also 38 more known active cases, for a total of 458. There were 219 as of Sept. 1.

Eleven people are getting COVID-19 treatment in a hospital, the report says. None are in an ICU.

About two-thirds of the people whose cases were added to the system in this report are younger than age 40.

The reports from OPH don't necessarily reflect how many people tested positive for COVID-19 on the day they're made public; rather, they indicate the number of new cases OPH is notified of as of 2 p.m. the previous day.

Testing continues to be an issue in and around Ottawa, with its Moodie Drive site already at capacity when it opened Friday at 9 a.m.

Two pop-up sites have been set up at Ottawa schools, and more capacity has been added at the city's Heron Road site.

People wait to be tested at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site for the nearby École secondaire catholique Franco-Cité southeast of downtown Ottawa Friday. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Ontario reported 401 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, the highest one-day total in more than three months.

Quebec has logged 297 new cases.

Police across that province will be checking bars and restaurants this weekend to see if they're following public health rules around crowd size, mask use and acceptable activities.

The premiers of both provinces are in Ottawa for a meeting and announcement today.

With files from Sara Jabakhanji

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