COVID-19: Ottawa Public Health reports first death of child from virus

“This is the first pediatric death reported in Ottawa in which COVID-19 was identified as the underlying or contributing cause of death.”

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COVID-19 in Ottawa

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(Reported Friday, last update Dec. 23)

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3: New deaths

985: Total deaths

25: Ottawa residents in hospital due to active infections

3: In ICU because of active infections

83: Confirmed COVID-19 patients in Ottawa hospitals as of Wednesday (includes non-Ottawa residents), 51 in hospital because of COVID-19 (5 in ICU) and 32 for other reasons (1 in ICU)

264: New COVID-19 cases (case numbers are considered underestimates with testing limited to certain groups)

87,788: Total cases

35: Ongoing outbreaks in institutional settings

14.44: Per cent test positivity (seven-day average as of Wednesday)

Source: Ottawa Public Health

First pediatric death from COVID-19 reported in Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health has recorded the city’s first death of a child from COVID-19 in December.

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It is the only death recorded in the 0-9 age group from the disease that has claimed 985 lives in the city overall since the pandemic began nearly three years ago.

“This is the first pediatric death reported in Ottawa in which COVID-19 was identified as the underlying or contributing cause of death. We cannot disclose more about the individual or the circumstances,” Ottawa Public Health said in an emailed response to inquiries from this newspaper.

The death was recorded in OPH’s Dec. 16 report.

Only five of Ottawa’s COVID-19 deaths have involved people under age 39, OPH reports say. Two were ages 20-29 and two were 30-39. There have been no deaths of people ages 10-19.

By far the most deaths have occurred among the elderly, with 64 per cent or 634 victims ages 80 or older. Nearly 94 per cent of COVID-19 deaths have involved those ages 60 or older.

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Young people, however, make up most COVID-19 infections, with the 20-29 age group accounting for more than 17,000 of nearly 88,000 cases recorded by OPH. Nearly 15,000 cases have been confirmed in children youth ages 0-19. Overall case counts are only rough indicators since Ontario stopped widespread testing and mandatory reporting COVID-19 infections in December 2021.

Health Canada approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for infants and pre-schoolers last July.

Ottawa Public Health reports that 21 per cent of children ages six month to five years and 65 per cent of those ages 5-11 have at least one COVID-19 vaccination, while just 10 per cent of the younger category and 53 per cent of those ages 5-11 have two doses.

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The current public health situation in Ottawa

Don’t go to gatherings like this weekend’s New Year’s Eve celebrations if you’re sick, Ottawa Public Health warned alongside an update pointing to “high levels” of influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus circulating.

“We know you’re looking forward to these events (and) it can be hard to cancel on friends (and) family,” the health unit said Thursday with its weekly “snapshot” of respiratory virus activity.

“But if you’re sick, attending a gathering puts everyone at risk.”

People should wear a mask and screen themselves for symptoms if visiting an older person or a long-term care or retirement home, OPH said. The health unit also recommends wearing a well-fitted mask in crowded indoor settings like malls and theatres, getting a flu shot and staying up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines.

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Overall, flu activity was down in Thursday’s update based on wastewater monitoring, the per cent of lab tests coming back positive and outbreaks in health-care settings while COVID-19 and other respiratory virus activity were both similar to the week before, OPH said.

There were 1,174 respiratory-related trips to hospital emergency departments among 6,516 total visits in the week starting Dec. 18, OPH reported. The visits for respiratory illnesses included 391 by children aged three and under and 205 by children aged four to 11.

How to get vaccinated against COVID-19 (and flu) in Ottawa

Wondering if you’re due for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose? Ontario’s Ministry of Health has a new booster dose eligibility checker now online.

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People can book COVID-19 vaccination appointments through Ontario’s online portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, making appointments at participating pharmacies or visiting a Neighbourhood Wellness Hub.

Flu shots are available at more than 250 Ottawa pharmacies. OPH flu shot clinics serve children aged six months to five years and their household members and people without OHIP who couldn’t get the vaccine through pharmacies or health-care providers.

How to get tested and treated for COVID-19 in Ottawa

Ontario pharmacists can now prescribe Paxlovid, an antiviral drug used to reduce severe outcomes from COVID-19 to eligible people at no cost, both in person and virtually.

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The antiviral medication is taken orally within five days of symptom onset and is recommended for people at higher risk of COVID-19 complications, including people over 60 and people who are immunocompromised.

People can use Ontario’s COVID-19 online antiviral treatment screener to see if they’re at higher risk of severe illness and might benefit from the medication.

With lab testing in the province prioritized for people at increased risk and in high-risk settings, Ottawa residents can find out who’s eligible and how to book tests and seek treatment at a local care clinic or assessment centre on the health unit’s website.

Families can also check out CHEO’s page on when to go to the emergency department and alternatives to the ED, including local assessment centres and care clinics.

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Where to get COVID-19 rapid tests

Ontario is extending a program providing free rapid antigen test kits for COVID-19 to the end of June 2023.

People can use their postal code to find participating pharmacy and grocery store locations.

Latest statistics from Ottawa Public Health
Latest statistics from Ottawa Public Health Photo by OPH

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