Doctor warns of possible fourth wave if Ontario reopens too soon after third

For the second day in a row, Ottawa’s top doctor, Vera Etches, is warning Ottawa residents about rising cases in the capital.

Ottawa set another daily case record Sunday with 370 cases reported. It’s the third record in as many days.

Ottawa, today we are reporting 370 more people testing positive for COVID-19. I am urging everyone to stay home. If you must go out for essential purposes wear a mask and keep 2M distance. We must lower the curve together.

— Dr. Vera Etches (@VeraEtches) April 11, 2021

“Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve crested in the third wave yet,” infectious diseases expert and member of Ontario’s Vaccination Task Force Dr. Isaac Bogoch said.

Despite the concerns about the growing third wave, Dr. Bogoch is already warning of the possibility of a fourth.

“If we come out of this third wave quickly and you rapidly re-open, I don’t think it would come to anyone’s surprise that you would see another bump in cases. You will,” he said.

Already, the third wave has wreaked havoc on hospitals in Ottawa and across the province. Bogoch says that was due to the close proximity of the timing of the second and third wave, something that could happen again if a fourth was to occur.

“Hospitals are rather quick to fill up but take a long time to decompress and having wave three so close to wave two didn’t really allow the healthcare system to decompress and that’s been extremely problematic,” he said.

The fourth wave isn’t inevitable. Stricter public health measures and a strong vaccination campaign, as well as increased public adherence to the lockdown measures, are all part of the solution, according to Bogoch.

But even after the 28-day stay-at-home order ends, a return to normal—or even the provincial colour-coded framework—could see Ontario facing another wave.

“In and of itself, [the colour-coded framework] probably needs to be tightened up a bit even with having more and more vaccines administered over the next 28 days,” Bogoch said.

3/ No fear mongering or 'sky-is-falling' rhetoric here, but a 4th wave is certainly possible if we rapidly & prematurely re-open as we exit wave 3, especially if we don't have a significant degree of population-level immunity at that time.

— Isaac Bogoch (@BogochIsaac) April 11, 2021

Ottawa business advocate, and chair of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Associations, Mark Kaluski says businesses would rather see stronger action now than face another lockdown in the future.

“I think if you spoke to most business owners they would rather a tougher set of lockdowns right now, to shorten the period we’re in lockdown, than a sort of situation that we’re in right now that seems to be open to interpretation and doesn’t really address the needs of the pandemic,” Kaluski said.

Ottawa resident Nael Ibrahim says he too would prefer an extension to the 28-day shutdown rather than the potential for more waves.

“I would be okay with that for two months, I don’t care, as long as it’s the last one because a fourth one would be too much for us,” Ibrahim said.

“Now’s not the time to be taking half measures. We should be diligent. We’ve spent so long in lockdown and it would be a shame for many people to get it if we stop being careful too early,” Ottawa resident Graham Brown noted.

Bogoch said the vaccination effort needs to focus on essential workers, particularly those in the hardest hit areas of the city.

“If we truly can vaccinate, or have at least a first dose in 60 per cent of adults by the time this four week stay-at-home order is over, it will be extremely helpful,” he said.

Ultimately, Bogoch says our actions now will determine if we have a fourth wave.

“We have to get this under control. We have to get this done and over with. We’re just hoping everyone keeps trying their best and that we can get these numbers under control,” Mark Kaluski added.