Second wave of COVID-19 in Ottawa '100 per cent driven by human behaviour': uOttawa epidemiologist

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An epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa says human behaviour is behind the spike in COVID-19 cases in Ottawa and the start of the second wave of the pandemic.

On Friday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said Ottawa is in the second wave of the pandemic, after people got a little too relaxed with COVID-19 prevention measures in August.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's "The Goods" Saturday morning. Dr. Raywat Deonandan said the spike in COVID-19 cases is the result of people not following the COVID-19 restrictions.

"This is pretty much 100 per cent driven by human behaviour," said Dr. Deonandan.

"The disease never went away, it's always been in certain people even during the summer when the numbers were low. It's just that the transmission rate went down because people were congregating closely enough to be infected."

Dr. Deonandan added, "Now we're congregating again, schools are opening, people are going to parties, it's cold, we're huddling inside a bit more and as a result the opportunity for transmission is happening and that results in more infections."

Ontario's Ministry of Health reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, the fifth day this week with at least 50 new cases of COVID-19.

Newstalk 580 CFRA's Andrew Pinsent asked Dr. Deonandan his thoughts about Ottawa being in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Second wave, these aren't really scientific terms. These are resurgences in response to human behaviour and to the extent that human behaviour has changed; it looks like the numbers are climbing," said Dr. Deonandan.

"If anything is a second wave, this is probably it."

On Thursday, Ontario rolled back the COVID-19 social gathering limits in Ottawa to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. On Saturday, Premier Doug Ford extended the new limits to all areas of Ontario. 

Dr. Deonandan says the only way for cases to go down, is for people to change their behaviour.

"We talk about waves, people expect something innate to be part of the virus, like a fall seasonal patterns. And as well, you figure you wait out the wave, you ride the wave until it's over. That's not how it works," said Deonandan. 

"The numbers go down because we did something. We went inside, we distanced, we wore masks. The numbers are going up again because we're out again and we're not following the protocols as closely as we could or should and they will continue to go up until we do something else."