Ottawa’s COVID-19 success ‘really unique’ globally
Ottawa’s success at reducing its COVID-19 case count — and keeping it relatively low — over the past two months may be unique in the world, say Canadian epidemiologists.
“I don’t know any other city like Ottawa in the world,” said Doug Manuel, a physician and senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital.
“The leader board has changed,” said Manuel. “We were [among] the highest in the country not even two months ago, and now we’re bucking the trend internationally.”
But as much as experts say Ottawans should be proud of their accomplishment, they also warn that a slip in following the rules — keeping two metres apart, wearing masks, and especially not socializing outside our own households — could rapidly lay all that hard work to waste.
‘It’s pretty remarkable’
In mid-October, Ottawa saw its COVID-19 infection rate reached 132 active cases per 100,000 residents — higher than Toronto’s and many other Canadian cities. The people of Ottawa were shocked.
There were official warnings, there were public scoldings and there was a four-week partial lockdown. That seemed to work, as Ottawa’s COVID-19 daily case count has been generally declining for the past seven weeks.
Our infection rate now sits at 29.5 per 100,000 residents, which is still serious enough to keep us in the “orange” or intermediate zone of the province’s five-tier system for scoring COVID-19 severity. But our stats keep us well away from the top-level grey zone that Toronto and surrounding municipalities find themselves in.
It’s not that other cities aren’t also seeing their COVID-19 numbers come down, said Manuel, but in other places around the globe, the cases are generally declining from a relatively high level. For example, in London, England, the number of new daily coronavirus cases has fallen by about half over the last four weeks of an economic lockdown in that country, but there are still 154 active cases per 100,000 residents.
“We kind of woke up and got some messages and got back together when we were about 100 to 150 cases a day,” said Manuel. “I don’t know anyone who’s done that.… It’s pretty remarkable.”