OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 46 new cases of COVID-19 today (March 3), and 30 people now hospitalized with the virus.

There were just 21 people in local hospitals with the novel coronavirus two days ago, although the number of patients in intensive care has remained stable at six.

Ottawa residents being tested for COVID-19 are seeing positive results 2.1 per cent of the time. That’s up from 1.7 per cent.

OPH says there have been 51,404 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Ottawa, to date. The city has received 61,820 doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines and is expected to start vaccinating residents over the age of 80 this week.

The number of active cases of COVID-19 in the community is down to 497, Wednesday, according to OPH.

There are 22 healthcare institutions dealing with outbreaks of the virus, along with four schools and two childcare facilities. Community outbreaks linked to a community organization, a multi-unit dwelling and two workplaces are still being monitored by OPH as well.

There have been 14,870 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa since March of 2020, of which 13,932 have been resolved.

No new deaths related to the novel coronavirus, Wednesday, keeps the city’s pandemic toll at 441.

Ontario is reporting 958 new cases of COVID-19, Wednesday, including 13 in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s region, eight in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark district and five in Renfrew County.

COVID-19 variant found in Lanark County

LANARK COUNTY – The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit says it’s been notified by Public Health Ontario a resident has tested positive for a “variant of concern (VOC).”  

It’s the first time the health unit has reported someone has contracted a COVID-19 VOC.

Every new COVID-19 positive specimen has been screened for known VOCs in Ontario since Feb. 3. The specimens that screen positive go on for further testing to confirm which mutation lineage has been found.

“The news of a screened positive variant of concern locally reinforces how important it is to continue following public health guidance very carefully,” medical officer of health Dr. Paula Stewart released in a statement. “It is important we remember we are all in this together. If our community is safe our schools will be safe. We must all continue to work together, stay vigilant, and follow the public health measures to keep COVID-19 from spreading in LGL.”

While research suggests that VOCs are more transmissible and may have the potential for more severe illness, so far the evidence suggests the Health Canada-approved vaccines will still be effective against them.

Carleton Place bar linked to spike in Lanark cases

CARLETON PLACE – A spike in COVID-19 cases is being linked to one bar in Carleton Place and has the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU) planning a pop-up vaccination clinic for the community.

Those who attended The Thirsty Moose Pub & Eatery between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on the following dates may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus:

  • Sunday, Feb. 21
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23
  • Thursday, Feb. 25 
  • Friday, Feb. 26 

Customers who were at that pub on those dates and times are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms. The pub has temporarily closed.

The health unit says they’re aware of 20 people in the Pakenham, Almonte and Carleton Place area who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past four days.

According to the health unit, the infections started with exposure to the virus at a social gathering, and it has now spread to businesses, recreational sports teams, families, and childcare both inside and outside the region. Public health says they have contacted all the newly infected people and their close contacts.  

If you are experiencing any respiratory symptoms or fever, the health unit is asking you complete the online self-assessment and testing is available at the Almonte Assessment Centre.

“COVID-19 infections started with exposure to the virus in a social gathering,” the LGLDHU released in a statement. “It has now spread into businesses, recreational sports teams, families, and childcare – both within and outside of our region.”

For more information visit www.healthunit.org/coronavirus or call 1-800-660-5853 x 2499. 

Ontario won’t inoculate seniors with AstraZeneca vaccine

ONTARIO – Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province is expected to secure doses of Health Canada’s newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine but will follow a national panel’s advice not to inoculate anyone above 65 years old with the shot.

On Monday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said provinces should not use AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 treatment on seniors over concerns of limited data on how well the vaccine will work in older populations.

NACI says the two mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna should be prioritized for Canadians older than 65, while AstraZeneca should be offered to people less than 65.

Elliott announced the province will make an announcement on the distribution of AstraZeneca’s vaccine soon, adding the plan to administer the shots is still being finalized.

Elliott says the vaccine could more easily be used in sites like correctional facilities because it does not need to be stored at the same cold temperatures as other vaccines already in use.

The federal Conservatives have also chimed in saying they’re worried about vaccine hesitancy among seniors because of conflicting advice on the use of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Tory MP Michelle Rempel Garner says the advice is confusing.

“I’m concerned these reports will lead to seniors delaying getting a COVID-19 vaccine if a vaccine they perceive to be more effective than the one offered to them is not available,” Garner said.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the NACI recommendations are not final and can be changed in due course.

Health Canada says AstraZeneca’s vaccine can in fact be used on Canadians aged 65 or older, leading to confusion.

With the currently available treatments of Pfizer and Moderna, the province says it is considering delaying the second required shot even longer in an effort to speed up the overall vaccination timeline.

Elliott said the province will wait for confirmation from the NACI on delaying the second dose before releasing details to the public.