After the worst month for COVID-19 cases in Ottawa since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical officer of health is urging Ottawa residents to limit contacts to household members only until COVID-19 transmission rates drop in Ottawa.

Dr. Vera Etches says we need to limit close contacts to help reduce the number of cases of COVID-19 linked to a single case through transmission.

Ottawa Public Health reported 66 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases in September to 1,413 cases. Thursday's report is for statistics up to September 30 at 2 p.m. Statistics show 35 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in Ottawa in September were residents ages 20 to 29.

This week, Dr. Vera Etches urged residents to limit their social contacts to those in your own household only, including for Thanksgiving dinner.

Appearing on CTV Morning Live Thursday morning, host Leslie Roberts asked Dr. Etches how long people should limit their social gatherings to their household and close contacts only.

"We have a number we follow, it's called the 'R Value', and that shows if it's above one, one case is leading to more than one case," said Dr. Etches.

"We need to continue to limit our close contacts until we get that back below one case leading to less than one case. That means the pandemic will be dropping and that is where we need to be right now. The increase is very rapid."

According to Ottawa Public Health's COVID-19 dashboard, the Reproduction Number (R1 Number) for Ottawa seven day average wsa 1.07 on Sept. 27. It was 0.70 on September 29, with cases still under investigation. 

Ottawa Public Health released data on Wednesday showing one in four cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa through the first two weeks of September were linked to transmission through social gatherings in public and private settings.  Public health says people are being exposed to COVID-19 in their homes, backyards, bars and restaurants and events with family and friends.

CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts asked Dr. Etches why Ottawa Public Health is zeroing in on household contacts.

"Well the household piece is about we need close contact. So the people we live with we're already in close contact: we're sharing meals, we're not wearing masks, we're not distanced. That's our home front and that's what we need. Some people are single so we need to add in a social support outside," said Dr. Etches.

"Yes, that's the kind of contact that spreads COVID. So we see one member is testing positive for COVID, that's leading to other cases in the household. It is the same principal we want to make sure that kind of close contact isn't happening in other places; like restaurants, or bars, or gyms, or weddings, or parks even when people are close together because that is what's leading to the transmission. So we need to just shrink it back."

On Wednesday, Dr. Etches told reporters that based on the current trajectory; Ottawa could see 200 cases a day of COVID-19 by mid-October. CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts asked Dr. Etches if Ottawa can prevent the increase in daily cases.

"We can absolutely prevent that, we've done it before. The people of Ottawa have turned the curve really twice, actually," said Dr. Etches.

"I want to emphasis that if we do our part by decreasing our contacts back to just our household, plus one or two people who provide us with social support, this is the key. The driver of the increase is our social connections, the number of people we're gathering with in different groups and crossing groups that just needs to stop."