COVID-19 sewage warning and a surprise tip for an Ottawa restaurant: The top five stories in Ottawa this week

A man wears a mask as he shops in the Glebe community of Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Warning signs about COVID-19 in Ottawa's sewage, a long-term care worker charged under the federal Quarantine Act and a surprise tip for staff at an Ottawa restaurant.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at the top five stories in Ottawa this week

Alarm at sky-high COVID-19 levels in Ottawa's sewage

Researchers keeping an eye on the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa's sewage warn of an "alarming" spike in COVID-19 rates.

A research project conducted by the CHEO Research Institute and the University of Ottawa measures COVID-19 in the city's wastewater. On Wednesday, researchers said they were shocked by the high levels of the virus found in Ottawa's sewage system.

“We’re strapped to a rocket right now, unfortunately”, said Alex MacKenzie, a pediatrician and researcher at CHEO. “It’s two to three days early warning.  It’s a single test for 900,000 people.”

Wastewater is collected five days a week and transported to a lab, where viral levels are tested and reported the next morning.

“We can say with certainty, this is three-six times greater than it was on Oct. 6. It is functioning as a very reliable indicator of COVID”, MacKenzie said. “It’s something that tells us almost in real time what’s happening in the community”.

He said the levels being measured in October are twice as high as he found in the spring.

Nothing I've tweeted about recently has generated as much interest as @CHEO and @uOttawa's daily tracking of #COVID19 in #Ottawa sewage. �� To follow the data yourself, go to: https://t.co/bGLdDz9E72.
Spoiler alert: curve not flattening yet.#onpoli #ottnews #CDNhealth pic.twitter.com/Ta7YmymTUF

— Alex Munter (@AlexMunter) October 16, 2020

Ottawa woman breaks 14-day quarantine rule to work at long-term care home: police

A 53-year-old Ottawa woman is facing charges under the federal Quarantine Act after Ottawa police say she failed to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling abroad and returned to work at a long-term care home.

Police say information was received indicating that an Ottawa woman had travelled abroad. She returned to Canada on Sept. 26, so she was required under federal law to quarantine for 14 days, until Oct. 9

"The woman decided not to respect this order and went to work on Sept. 30 at a long-term health facility in Ottawa," police said in a news release. "When management was apprised of the situation, she was immediately sent home. The facility immediately activated mitigating self-isolation and cleaning protocols and informed all persons that had been in contact with the subject."

The woman is due in court on Nov. 24.

Doug Ford blasts anti-maskers who targeted his home on Thanksgiving weekend

On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford had a message for anti-masking protesters who targeted his west Toronto home over the Thanksgiving weekend.

“We have the anti-maskers showing up to my house again, you know flying the flag upside down…you want to disrespect our country and our flag…get going, take off, leave,” Ford said.

“You can be a denier, you can be an anti-masker. You can be whatever. This is a democratic country. You can say what you want, but I’m just coming up here and telling you what I know."

Two downtown Ottawa hotels close during COVID-19 pandemic

As many hotel rooms sit empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rooms at two downtown Ottawa hotels are closed for good.

CTV News Ottawa has learned both the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel at 435 Albert St. and the Best Western Plus at 377 O'Connor St. have been sold and are closing permanently.

Ownership group member Jake Levinson tells CTV News Ottawa the COVID-19 pandemic played a big role in the sale and closure, but it was not the only reason.  Levinson says talk about selling the hotels started before the pandemic began.

The Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association reports hotel occupancy rates are down 70 to 90 per cent in the national capital region, depending on the week.

$700 tip on a bottle of wine surprises staff at an Ottawa restaurant

On the day the Ontario Government announced bars and restaurants in Ottawa must close indoor dining due to rising COVID-19 cases, a regular customer surprised staff at an Ottawa restaurant with a big tip.

Effective Oct. 10 at 12:01 a.m., all indoor dining areas at bars and restaurants, gyms and movie theatres were ordered to close as Ottawa moved to a modified Stage 2.

At Bambu Restaurant on Riverside Drive, the dining room was packed on Oct. 9 as customers dropped by to support the restaurant before the dining room closed.

Co-owner Jenny Lu tells CTV News Ottawa one couple that heard about the dining rooms closing dropped by the restaurant to share a bottle of their favourite wine.

When they paid the bill for the $33 bottle of wine, they added a $700 tip.

The couple, who wish to stay anonymous, have been supporting Bambu since the restaurant opened 10 years ago. They provided the gratuitous tip not only to help staff who have been thrusted into a situation that could leave them financially vulnerable, but also to pay it forward to a team that has given so much in times of need.