- Ottawa's COVID-19 trends are high, stable or dropping.
- Its flu and RSV levels are low.
- Ontario expands COVID testing eligibility for adults.
For the second straight week Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said recent downward respiratory trends are encouraging, but it's still worthwhile to reduce risks while COVID-19 levels are high.
Experts strongly recommend people wear masks indoors and, in Ontario, in the days after having COVID symptoms. Staying home when sick and being up-to-date with COVID and flu vaccines also help protect vulnerable people.
Anyone 18 and older now qualifies for PCR COVID testing in Ontario if it has been at least six months since their last COVID shot or infection, or they haven't had a COVID vaccine at all.
CBC Ottawa takes a look at COVID trends on Tuesdays and Fridays. A broader look at respiratory illnesses comes on Wednesdays: overall, respiratory virus activity was seen as dropping, with a lower amount of flu or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity.
RESPIRATORY VIRUS SNAPSHOT - JAN 26 2023<br><br>Our monitoring indicators continue to paint an encouraging picture of our overall situation.<br><br>Though it’s important to note: while many of our indicators are in decline, there are still high levels of COVID-19 circulating in Ottawa. (1/4) <a href="https://t.co/WivrKbtWKx">pic.twitter.com/WivrKbtWKx</a>
Data from the research team says the weekly average level of coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater, as of Jan. 23, had been stable for five days at a level slightly above where it was before the rise in late December.
OPH considers this very high.
OPH's count of active, local COVID-19 hospital patients is stable at 30, according to Friday's update, with two patients in intensive care.
There is another count that includes other patients, such as people admitted for other reasons who then test positive for COVID, those admitted for lingering COVID complications, and those transferred from other health units.
That number has been generally stable this month.
Tests, outbreaks and deaths
There are 25 active COVID outbreaks in Ottawa, according to OPH, which says that's very high. That number has been slowly dropping this month.
OPH reported 116 more COVID cases over three days and the deaths of three people age 80 or above who had COVID. In all, 1,007 Ottawa residents have died since the start of the pandemic with COVID as a contributing or underlying cause of their death.
With updated 2023 population numbers from the province, 32 per cent of Ottawans age 12 and older have had their most recent dose within the last six months, as is generally recommended, with older age groups having higher rates.
This does not factor in immunity from getting COVID.
As of the most recent weekly update, 85 per cent of Ottawa residents had at least one COVID vaccine dose, 82 per cent had at least two, 56 per cent at least three and 31 per cent at least four.
Across the region
The coronavirus wastewater average in the Kingston area is stable, with recent signs of a rise. Data for other areas outside Ottawa is out of date or unavailable.
The COVID test positivity average drops to seven per cent in Renfrew County. It's a stable 12 per cent in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU).
The EOHU's COVID risk level is considered low. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said in his weekly update the COVID situation is better, but the virus is still circulating and contributing to the deaths of vulnerable people.
"The more we can collectively … abide to all these layers of protection, the less these circulating viruses will be out there," he said.
WATCH | The medical officer of health's weekly update:
Akwesasne's board of education is lifting the mask requirement in schools on Wednesday, saying fewer people are sick in the community. It had brought that requirement back in late November.
Hospitalizations and deaths
Eastern Ontario communities outside Ottawa report about 30 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with five patients in intensive care.
That regional count doesn't include Hastings Prince Edward (HPE) Public Health, which has a different counting method. It has a stable 12 local COVID hospitalizations.
Western Quebec's health authority, CISSSO, reports a rise to 114 COVID hospitalizations, returning to a level last seen at the end of August 2022. None of the patients are in intensive care.
CISSSO added 28 COVID deaths from 2022 to its count, which now sits at 397. Those deaths are said to come from a routine check of a provincial database.
Renfrew County reported one more death in its weekly update for a total of 83.
The Kingston area's health unit says that 32 per cent of its population age five and up have had a booster vaccine in the last six months. That number is 27 per cent in HPE and unavailable elsewhere.
Across eastern Ontario, between 82 and 93 per cent of residents age five and up have received at least two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and between 54 and 66 per cent of those residents have had at least three.