OTTAWA – As the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise across Canada, the infection rate in Ottawa has been going the other way for weeks, putting the city on track to flatten out again the pandemic curve.
There was a point in early October when Ottawa, despite its initial success in flattening the curve in the spring, experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases that saw the city double the number of cases seen in Toronto and across Peel region at that time. Today, the number of new cases is again much lower than in these regions.
On Friday, there were 55 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, which is a larger daily jump from the start of the week, but still puts the city at 5.89 new cases per 100,000 population. Toronto, meanwhile, reported 18.08 new cases per 100,000 people on Friday and in the region of Peel, 37.42 new cases per 100,000 people.
“It’s really thanks to the people of Ottawa, and thanks to the employers and others who are doing their part to make this possible,” Etches said at a press conference this week, adding that people have moved away from the others wore masks and stayed at home. when they were sick.
“These are the things that can really bring COVID down in a community. ”
Etches said Ottawa Public Health emphasized the importance of wearing masks at the start of the pandemic and that in June the city became the first in Canada to make them mandatory on public transportation.
“Building a new behavior, a new culture where you always have a mask with you when you go out, which is in place a little longer, that could have helped,” she said.
Meanwhile, employers in Ottawa, a city of just over a million people, have made it possible for people to follow the advice of public health officials by allowing them to work from home and stay home. home when they were sick, more than in other cities, she said.
Twenty-four percent of workers in Ottawa hold jobs in public administration, according to Ottawa Employment Hub, the local workplace planning council. Some 120,000 people in the National Capital Region, which includes the neighboring city of Gatineau, Quebec, work for the federal government, which has allowed most of its employees to work from home since March.
“The federal government is leading by example,” said Lavagnon Ika, professor of project management at the University of Ottawa.
He said government managers and directors were often reluctant to allow people to work remotely before the pandemic, but that has changed. “Thanks to COVID-19, people have learned (how) to make it work,” he said
Ika said information technology companies in Ottawa also allow their employees to work remotely because they already have the technology to do so and their employees are trained to use it.
“If you don’t have a centralized information system for all your teams, it is not possible to work remotely,” he said. “I’m talking about video conferencing tools and artificial intelligence support tools. ”
He said some of the high-tech companies in Ottawa had remote employees and customers from all over the world before COVID-19, listing local e-commerce giant Shopify as one of them. “They have a great need for remote work due to the geographic distribution of some of their team members and clients,” Ika said.
Eastern Ontario’s well-integrated health care system has also helped respond effectively to the pandemic, said Dr. Robert Cushman, Acting Medical Director of Health for Renfrew County and District Health Unit. near Ottawa.
“What you saw in Ottawa, for example, is that there is a very close work between the hospitals, the public health unit and the city, and it extends to the peripheral areas,” he said. said Cushman, who was Ottawa’s chief medical officer. 1996 to 2005.
“We have been working together on this topic from the start,” he said. “There is a lot of cohesion. ”
The fact that all of the hospital’s labs are working together through a regional association when it comes to testing for COVID-19 is another factor, Cushman said, as effective testing is key to aggressive and in-depth tracing of how the new coronavirus is spread through contact.
“Is your lab’s turnaround time short enough that you can really catch up and even get ahead? He said, adding that it was difficult to do this across Canada and even in the rest of Ontario. “If you wait six days for a test, I mean this virus can go into a second (or) third generation. ”
There were a lot of stories about the long lines at COVID-19 testing sites in Ottawa in September when the kids returned to school, but that also improved, not least thanks to the ability to take appointments for online testing.
Cushman said he also believes people in Ottawa tend to trust the public health unit and medical professionals, leading more people to follow their guidelines.
“There is a community spirit here to do the right thing,” he says.
But Etches warned Ottawa residents not to relax too much as cases of COVID-19 in the city declined. She was speaking on Tuesday, when Ottawa reported 19 new cases. As of Friday, 55 new cases of COVID-19 were reported.
“We think we’re on the right track, but it’s very fragile,” said Etches, who tells families to celebrate Christmas and other seasonal holidays with only people in their immediate homes to avoid possible outbreaks. of COVID-19.
“Ottawa Public Health recorded the highest rate of COVID in early October and we can go back.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 28, 2020
This article was produced with financial assistance from the Facebook Stock Exchange and The Canadian Press.
Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press