'Really impressive milestone': No COVID-19 patients in Ottawa ICUs for first time in 2021

An Ottawa doctor calls it a "huge sigh of relief" to see no COVID-19 patients in intensive care units at hospitals across the city.

For the first time since December 21, there are no patients reported to be in intensive care units at Ottawa hospitals with COVID-19-related illnesses.

Ottawa Public Health reported two patients with COVID-19-related illnesses in hospitals on Friday, the lowest number of patients in Ottawa hospitals with COVID-19 since July 11, 2020.

CTV News at Noon anchor Patricia Boal asked Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng if he is breathing a sigh of relief after hearing the news there are no patients currently in the ICU with COVID.

"Oh my goodness, this huge sigh of relief when you think about what that represents, what that symbolizes," said Dr. Kyeremanteng.

"Like when you think about what the families have had to go through during these times, when we were bringing patients in from the GTA, for example, and having that family separation.

"When you think about the staff, all of us putting in that extra time and the emotional, physical toll that it took on a lot of us, it's just amazing to be in this spot."

The low hospitalizations come as Ottawa Public Health reports high COVID-19 vaccination rates and low case numbers. There were three cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa reported on Friday.

"Just to think of the Ottawa community, how much they've really rallied. When you see the amount of vaccinations, abiding by public health measures – the community has really done their part to get us to this situation. It is a really impressive milestone," said Dr. Kyeremanteng.

As of Friday, 80 per cent of Ottawa adults aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 39 per cent have received both doses.

This week, medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches raised concerns about lower vaccination rates among residents 18 to 39, which represent the lowest vaccination rates in Ottawa. Public health reports 66 per cent of residents 18 to 29 and 69 per cent of 30 to 39 year olds have received at least one dose.

Dr. Kyeremanteng says vaccinations will help keep people out of hospitals.

"When we look at the impact of the vaccines, you and I have talked many times about how effective they are in terms of really reducing hospitalizations," said Kyeremanteng about the low vaccination rates among 18 to 39 year-olds.

"Unfortunately during this third wave, we did see some younger citizens and younger patients land in the intensive care unit. When we do look at the reality of COVID, it is important for all of us to get vaccinated that are eligible. Those that are hesitant, it's good to have that honest conversation, not to shame anyone."

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On Friday, staff in the ICU and COVID-19 units at the Queensway Carleton Hospital received a special delivery – beer!

The hospital says a "grateful patient" who was in the hospital ICU for a month with COVID-19 donated craft beer for the staff.

"Definitely one of our more interesting kinds of thank you gifts to our team! They were delighted to receive it. Thank you!"