Ottawa

COVID-19 claims 7 more lives in Ottawa nursing homes

Seven more residents of Ottawa long-term care homes have died of COVID-19, including six at the Montfort Long-Term Care Centre.

Dr. Vera Etches urges caution before lifting pandemic restrictions

A pedestrian wearing a face mask walks by a line outside a shop in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Seven more residents of Ottawa long-term care homes have died of COVID-19, including six at the Montfort Long-Term Care Centre.

The seventh fatality occurred at the Madonna Care Community in Orléans.

According to the latest report from Ottawa Public Health (OPH), there are now 943 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness in the city, up 44 from yesterday's report.

A total of 32 people have died from coronavirus in the city, 21 of them in long-term care or retirement homes.

The Ontario government announced Wednesday it's asking all residents and staff in long-term care homes where a COVID-19 outbreak has been declared to undergo testing.

There are currently 36 people are in hospital with the respiratory illness in Ottawa, and 379 have now recovered.

There are now more than 1,625 confirmed cases in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

The deaths of 39 people in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, and three more in the wider region, have also been tied to COVID-19. 

From what we know, nearly 600 people out of that regional total have recovered, but most local health units don't share that data.

Confirmed cases represent only a fraction of the actual number because of limited testing.

Blueprint for easing restrictions

Ottawa's top doctor is urging extreme caution before the city begins relaxing measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Vera Etches made the comments during a virtual city council meeting Wednesday, where she warned that lifting restrictions too early could undo the hard work that's been done to keep the respiratory illness from overwhelming the health-care system.

Etches outlined several examples of developments that should happen first:

  • Development of a reliable antibody test that can show when someone has had COVID-19 and is therefore likely immune to reinfection.
  • Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 need to decline for at least two weeks. 
  • The health-care system must be be able to quickly detect and deal with clusters of new cases.
  • A plan to stop new travel-related cases, which could include further restrictions on movement.
  • A comprehensive plan to resume schooling and other activities without putting people at risk.

WATCH: Why we can't ease up too early

In a presentation to council by phone on Wednesday, Vera Etches, Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health, said relaxing restrictions too early may undo what has been accomplished through physical distancing measures. 1:17

Any loosening of current restrictions would have to follow the guidelines of the province and be done in conjunction with Gatineau, Que., because of the close proximity between the two cities, Etches said.

Answering a question from a council member, Etches said some of the first things to return could be use of outdoor spaces or bringing in one other person into your "bubble" to spend time with, all while keeping vulnerable people safe.

Etches said Wednesday the city is able to process 1,000 tests a day and wants to keep expanding who's eligible.

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