COVID-19 numbers a ‘stable picture’ in Ottawa right now: Dr. Etches

OTTAWA — Ottawa’s medical officer of health says avoiding crowded places and celebrating the holidays with members of your household only will help Ottawa progress towards loosening the COVID-19 restrictions.

Dr. Vera Etches tells CTV News Ottawa that the COVID-19 numbers are a “stable picture” right now, after steady decline in October and early November.

Ottawa remains in the “orange-restrict” zone of Ontario’s colour-coded restriction zone, with restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms, fitness centres and cinemas.

Ottawa Public Health reported 48 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the largest one-day spike this week.  Ottawa is currently at 29.8 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, up from 21 cases per 100,000 in late November. 

Speaking on CTV News at Six with Christina Succi, Dr. Etches said right now, the COVID-19 statistics would not allow the city to move into the “yellow-protect” zone, with fewer restrictions on bars, restaurants and gyms.

“I’m very thankful for the hard work that people in Ottawa are doing. We’re sort of still hanging out in orange – a little bit closer to yellow than red,” said Dr. Vera Etches Saturday evening.

“But that decline that brought us out of red seems to have slowed into more of a stable picture. We need to avoid crowded places and close contact with people outside of our household if we want to continue to make progress towards yellow.”

The threshold to move into the “yellow-protect” zone includes COVID-19 cases of 10 to 24.9 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate between 0.5 and 1.2 per cent.

Ottawa Public Health is recommending people celebrate the holiday season with members of their household only.

“That is definitely our recommendation, and we know for single people we need to make accommodations,” said Dr. Etches, who notes single people and a grandparent can visit with one household during the holidays.

The first night of Hanukkah is Dec. 10, while Christmas Day is just three weeks away. 

“This holiday season we’re strongly advising that you only gather in person with members of your household. If you live alone, one-two close supports are ok. We know some of you may choose to gather with family from outside your household and some of you may travel. Don’t do that,” said the health unit on Twitter Friday.

“But if you do, we can’t stress enough how vital it is that you be as safe as possible. Wear masks at all times (preferably with three layers). Remain outdoors when possible.”

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