By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
As the holidays draw near, Barrhaven is still reporting more cases of COVID-19 than anywhere else in the city.
According to new data posted on Ottawa Public Healths COVID-19 by ward page, Barrhaven has seen 348 infections within the last 30 days, 229 of which were from the past 14 days. The data was last updated on Dec. 20.
That is roughly double to triple the average which many other parts of the city are seeing. Neighbouring ward Gloucester-South Nepean, which includes part of Barrhaven, reported the second highest amount of infections at 206 within a 30 day period (139 within the last 14 days).
If you look at the COVID-19 rates per 100,000, Barrhaven is still fairing out the worst at 609 cases per 100,000. Rideau-Goulbourn came in second place at 588 cases per 100,000 (145 cases), and Stitsville came in third with 531 cases per 100,000 (162 cases). That data is based on a 30 day overview.
One of the reasons why COVID-19 has spread so rapidly through the community comes down to schools: Half Moon Bay Public School had an outbreak of the virus which was linked to at least 68 infections. It has since been declared over.
The latest outbreak to be declared was at Jockvale Public School on Dec. 10. Three cases were reported among students, and as of Dec. 21, it’s still declared an active outbreak.
A COVID-19 outbreak at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is also still ongoing, after being declared on Dec. 7. It’s led to four student cases.
In neighbouring Findlay Creek, Vimy Ridge Public School reported an outbreak that same day. The Ottawa Public Health dashboard lists eight student cases and one staff infection.
Back in Barrhaven, an outbreak declared at Michaelle Jean Public School in early December has also been declared over. It involved only two student cases.
St Benedict, which reported an outbreak around the same time, led to two student cases. It’s also been declared over.
On Dec. 3, Berrigan Elementary School declared a COVID-19 outbreak, which led to four student cases. It’s still reported as ongoing.
A day before on Dec. 2, Mary Honeywell reported an outbreak which led to seven student cases. It was deemed over on Tuesday.
And two cases at Farley Mowat Public School led to an outbreak of two cases, which was also marked as over on Tuesday.
Many of these cases are believed to have started at a COVID-19 outbreak which was reported at the Barrhaven Martial Arts Centre, where at least 45 cases were reported. The facility has since reopened, but has blamed Ottawa Public Health for the situation getting so bad.
The Barrhaven Martial Art Centre noted a delay in contact tracing saying: “Despite screening, attendance tracking, cohorting, sanitary practices, the single largest factor the OPH attributes to this outbreak is a delay in response and action.”
Because of the large influx of cases in Barrhaven, the community has seen some of the only locations for rapid tests.
On Dec. 17, hundreds lined up outside the LCBO at Marketplace in hopes of scoring a box of five rapid tests. It was one of seven locations in the city which were participating. Only a few thousand tests were given out and no more shipments are coming in.
Then on Dec. 21, thousands started lining up at 5:00 am to try and collect a box of rapid tests which were being handed out at the Mintro Recreation Centre in Half Moon Bay. The line stretched down the suburban streets and cars were backed up to St. Joseph High School. The shipment was late coming in, but the first 1,000 people received a ticket to come back later in the afternoon.
The tests were also handed out on Wednesday this week, and will be again on Thursday.
On Dec. 22, Ottawa Public Health reported 387 new COVID-19 infections in the city, nearing an all-time high. The test positivity rate has also reached 10.5 per cent.
Testing capacity in the city has reached its peak and Ottawa’s top Doctor Vera Etches is encouraging anyone who is showing COVID-19 symptoms, or receives a positive result on a rapid test, to isolate for 10 days — alongside the rest of their household — regardless of vaccination status. These rules also apply if you are not able to receive a PCR test.
The Barrhaven Beer Store on Fallowfield Road and the Heart and Crown on Stranderherd have also closed after multiple COVID-19 infections were reported. It is unclear how many cases have been linked to these two locations and when they will re-open.