Avoiding second wave of COVID-19 is up to us: Ottawa health officials

With warm temperatures in the forecast this weekend, Ottawa’s medical officer of health is urging everyone to continue to practice physical distancing and wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Now is not the time to ease up on our efforts that have been keeping this virus pinned down,” Dr. Vera Etches said during a teleconference with reporters on Friday afternoon.

“We are still learning how we can live with COVID-19 in our community while we start to enjoy some of the activities that have been missing.”

Apple’s Mobility Data shows requests for walking and driving directions using the Apple Maps app is inching closer to pre-pandemic levels as the temperatures warm up.  Earlier this week, the City of Ottawa and the Ontario Government relaxed the restrictions for parks, sports fields and other amenities.

On Thursday, Ottawa Bylaw officers issued 30 warnings to people breaking COVID-19 rules in Ottawa’s parks, including five at Walter Baker Park in Kanata.

“We must continue to keep physical distancing and wear a cloth mask in situations where we can’t keep two metres from others outside our household. These activities prevent infection,” said Dr. Etches.

On Wednesday, the Ontario Government recommended all Ontarians wear a mask or face covering when it is not possible to maintain a two metre distance from others.

Ottawa Public Health has reported 1,885 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 220 deaths.

Second wave

A senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital says a second wave of COVID-19 can be avoided if everyone continues to practice physical distancing, wear a mask and follow the COVID-19 measures.

Dr. Doug Manuel said on Friday afternoon that as Ottawa and Ontario reopen the economy, “we are going to see more pressure” and there could be an increase in hospitalizations and cases.

“Because the growth potential of COVID-19 is so dramatic with so many people so susceptible and COVID-19 able to spread quickly, we are really at risk of a second wave,” said Dr. Manuel.

“But I want to stress a second wave doesn’t need to happen. We were able to flatten the first wave. For that reason, I’m very optimistic that we are never going to see a second wave, but it’s really up to us. It’s up to us, how well we maintain our physical distancing.”

Dr. Manuel said it is important for residents to be “smart” about how we physical distance as the COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

Dr. Etches said earlier this week that models showed if there was a 20 per cent reduction in physical distancing measures by residents, COVID-19 cases would spike.

There are currently 44 people in hospital being treated for COVID-19, including two in the intensive care unit.

“We are projecting if things maintain the way things are today, we project a gradual reduction in hospitalizations and a more pronounced reduction in severe cases,” said Dr. Manuel.