May 12 COVID-19 update: 47% immunized, possible return to school, huge surgery backlog, AZ halted

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reports 47 per cent of adults over 18 have had at least one inoculation of a COVID-19 vaccine and confirms one new death due to the virus and 115 new local cases.

The City of Ottawa has administered 88 per cent of 438,730 COVID-19 vaccine doses its received. Its latest vaccine shipment, 46,800 Pfizer-BioNTech doses, arrived last Sunday (May 9). OPH says 403,357 Ottawa residents have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 29,007 have had two doses.

The one newly reported COVID-19 death in Ottawa today (May 12), was a person in their 80s. The city’s pandemic death toll is now 528. Overall, the local COVID-19 deaths break down by age group as: one in their 20s; one in their 30s; five in their 40s; 16 in their 50s; 58 in their 60s; 95 in their 70s; 190 in their 80s; and 162 in their 90s.

Hospitalizations due to the novel coronavirus are down slightly to 73 with 18 patients in intensive care.

A couple of local healthcare institutions have seen COVID-19 outbreaks cleared as of Wednesday. An outbreak at Montfort Hospital, which started on April 21 and saw seven patients and three staff members infected, ended on May 10. An outbreak at Revera’s The Westwood retirement home saw six residents and five staff members contract COVID-19 between April 16 and May 10. 

There are currently 19 healthcare institutions and seven childcare centres dealing with ongoing novel coronavirus outbreaks. OPH is also monitoring four community outbreaks stemming from social events and workplaces.

Ottawa’s weekly COVID-19 incidence rate is down to 73.2 per 100,000 residents from 75.3 per 100,000 yesterday (May 11). Its highest point was on April 17, when the incidence rate was 222 per 100,000. The ‘red-control’ threshold of the province’s COVID-19 response framework is 40 per 100,000.

Residents being tested for COVID-19 are testing positive 6.6 per cent of the time. The positivity rate had been steadily falling for the last few weeks, but Wednesday’s figure represents a slight increase from 6.4 per cent reported Tuesday.

OPH is tracking 1,241 active cases of the novel coronavirus in the community.

There have been 25,628 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa (23,859 resolved) since March of 2020.

Ontario is reporting 2,320 new cases of COVID-19, Wednesday, including eight in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s region, one in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark district and four in Renfrew County and district.

Kids may return to school this year

OTTAWA – Ottawa’s medical officer of health and Mayor Jim Watson says there’s a chance this school year could close out with kids in classrooms, as local COVID-19 levels continue to trend downward.

Dr. Vera Etches says she’s encouraged by recent novel coronavirus figures.

“We see a slow decline in COVID in our wastewater and an important decline in hospitalizations, which tells us people are being protected by vaccines at older ages and the level of serious illness is coming down,” she said during yesterday’s media availability.

Etches added Ottawa still has high levels of COVID-19 in the community and there are still deaths happening due to the virus, so “we need to be cautious.”

The doctor and Watson agree a regional approach to school re-openings is the way to go, rather than waiting for the province to give a green light to schools across Ontario.

Watson explains that giving local students at least a month of in-class learning is a “great priority for both their mental well being and for their parents and caregivers as well.”

“If our schools are in good shape, our [COVID-19] numbers are in good shape, they’re going in the right direction, I think we should be allowed to open our schools at that time when it’s safe,” Watson said. “[We can’t] simply wait for all of the challenges they’re facing in Peel and Toronto.”

Etches says getting schools back open is the priority right now before health officials can look at other pandemic-related restrictions to relax.

Ottawa hospitals face huge surgery backlog

OTTAWA – More than 18,000 Ottawa-area patients are waiting for surgeries that have been postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s not clear when that backlog will be cleared.

The area’s three adult hospitals, The Ottawa Hospital, Hôpital Montfort and Queensway Carleton Hospital, postponed non-urgent surgeries and services, due to a directive from Ontario Health.

A statement from The Ottawa Hospital said the procedures that have been postponed were “selected on a set of clear criteria to carefully consider the health-care needs of patients while maintaining their safety.”

The hospital said it’s difficult to predict what the backlog will look like in the future because the Ontario Health directive to postpone non-urgent surgeries remains in place.

Ontario halts use of AstraZeneca vaccine

ONTARIO – Ontario says it will stop giving out first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for now due to an increased risk of a rare blood clotting syndrome linked to the shot. 

The province’s top doctor said the decision was made out of “an abundance of caution.” 

Ontario is preparing guidance for people who already received a first dose, Dr. David Williams said during a media availability yesterday (May 11).

Williams stressed AstraZeneca recipients made the right decision, based on the advice available at the time, to get that vaccine.

Ontario’s move comes hours after Alberta said it won’t give out more first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the time being because there aren’t any confirmed shipments coming.

The blood clotting syndrome linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine is extremely rare but can be fatal.

In Canada, at least 12 cases have been confirmed out of more than two million doses given and three women have died.

Ontario said it has 49,280 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine remaining in the province out of more than 707,000 received.

The province, along with others, is awaiting results of a clinical trial in the United Kingdom looking at giving a different vaccine for the second dose. 

That would allow people who got AstraZeneca first to be given Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose.

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