Thursday sees another surge in COVID-19 cases in Ottawa
58 new cases in Ottawa, 11 in western Quebec
For the second consecutive day, results from a backlog of tests caused Ottawa COVID-19 cases to rise dramatically, confirming warnings from health officials that the number of people with the virus was more than previously reported.
The city saw 58 new cases Thursday, up from a total of 194 the previous day. Wednesday saw 50 new cases, a dramatic rise after days with only single-digit increases.
There are now 252 confirmed cases in Ottawa. Twenty-four people are in hospital and seven in intensive care.
There were 11 new cases confirmed in western Quebec on Thursday where the number of total confirmed cases stands at 75.
"Similar to yesterday this increase is mainly due to the backlog of tests ... and does not represent a spike in recent cases," said Brent Moloughney, associate medical officer of health with Ottawa Public Health.
Most of the new positive cases stem from samples taken on or before March 20, he said.
Health officials note that because of the lag between infection and symptoms, as well as ongoing challenges with testing, the numbers are likely to start increasing sharply. Still, the reported cases likely represent just a fraction of the actual number of cases in the community.
Ottawa Public Health said it will be sending out mailers to every household in Ottawa with information about physical distancing and self-isolation to help ensure everyone, regardless of whether they have internet or not, knows what to do.
Moloughney noted mail, newspapers or parcels are considered "low risk" for transmission of COVID-19 but he still recommends washing hands with soap and water after handling any deliveries.
Outbreaks at institutions
There are still five institutional outbreaks of COVID-19 in Ottawa: three are at retirement homes (Promenade, Maplewood and Park Place), one is at a group home and the fifth is at Garden Terrace, a long-term care facility.
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health reported two new outbreaks Thursday. Two staff members at Hastings Manor have tested positive, as has one staff member at Hallowell House. The staff members and their close contacts are self-isolating at home, the public health authority said.
Meanwhile the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is reporting a staff member at the Stoneridge Manor long-term care home has tested positive and is now at home.
The outbreaks further raise the spectre of the virus's spread among some of the region's most vulnerable residents.
Ontario now has 2,793 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness, a leap of 401 from Wednesday. Quebec has 5,518 confirmed and suspected cases, up 907 from the previous day.
Nationwide, there are now over 11,000 reported cases and 166 deaths.
with files from CBC's Laura Glowacki