Virus season gears up in the capital

Virus season in the city has begun to ramp up, but signs point to a better year than last.

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Good morning!

Well, we finally did it. The Christmas tree is up and trimmed. It’s hard to argue with the wonderful, warm light it gives off, especially as the days grow shorter. The boy doesn’t know it yet, but he’s going to be wearing a lot of little Christmas outfits.

Today we’ve got the latest on virus season, and tons of events to occupy your time this week.

Let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Monday: -3 🌡️ -12 | ☀️

Tuesday: -1 🌡️ 0 | ☁️

Wednesday: 2 🌡️ -11 | ❄️


Virus season approaches, as ER waits stay high

Robert Hiltz/Ottawa Lookout

What happened: Doctors across the city are bracing for respiratory virus season, as outbreaks in hospitals and other institutions take off, the Ottawa Citizen reported. The city’s public health authority said cases of COVID, RSV, and the flu are all showing signs of increasing.

  • Hospital visits of people with one of the three main viruses were up in the last week, with 80 people admitted to hospital.

Combined, there are 16 outbreaks at Ottawa hospitals, with 10 at the Ottawa Hospital, one at the Heart Institute, one at the Elisabeth Bruyère, and four at the Queensway Carleton. One person at the CIvic has died.

Still dominant: COVID is the most common respiratory virus at the moment, with flu season only just getting underway. RSV is present, but makes up a smaller percentage, according to wastewater data collected by health officials.

How bad? So far, the viruses seem more stable than in previous years. Cases of COVID are similar to a year ago, but flu cases were two or three times higher, and RSV took off at the same time as COVID. This year, the three viruses aren’t rising in unison, which should take pressure off the healthcare system.

  • “Yes, we're going to have three viruses simultaneously circulating, but not, I don't think, to the point of that simultaneous, sudden surge we had last year,” Eastern Ontario Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis told CBC.

Need the help: Even without the extra virus pressure, hospitals aren’t doing great in the area. In the latest data for hospital ER wait times, the Ottawa Hospital General Campus and CHEO had the third- and tenth-longest waits in the province, at 4.4 hours and 3.3 hours to first see a doctor, CTV reported.

  • The provincial average for wait times is two hours.

The others: The Montfort Hospital had the shortest waits in the city, at 2.6 hours, while Civic Campus ER had waits of 3.1 hours and the Queensway-Carleton had 3.2 hours. The data is from September, the most recent available.


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⚖️ 53,057: The length of the case backlog at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Two years previous, it was 34,731. Advocates and lawyers said the board’s decision to go digital-only has made the backlogs worse. [CBC]

🚂 90: The number of minutes the LRT was shut down Saturday night between St. Laurent and Blair stations because of a stopped train. The cause of the failure is under investigation. [CTV]


Check out the new open positions in Ottawa.

  1. Public affairs manager at the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada;

  2. Government affairs senior manager at Rogers Communications;

  3. Guest experience manager at Milestones;

  4. Public affairs account director at Hill & Knowlton;

  5. Store manager at an outdoor sporting goods store.

Local jobs are selected by the Lookout team and are not paid ads, unless specifically noted.


💥 Two people were hurt overnight Saturday after their car rolled over into the ditch of the Airport Parkway. The two 20-year-olds were taken to hospital with serious injuries. [CTV]

🚨 On Bank Street, Centre 507 will install motion detectors in the bathrooms to help detect overdoses of its clients. For years, there had been no overdoses at the community centre, but in the last year, there have been at least 15. [Ottawa Citizen]

🔄 In Old Ottawa South, Google Maps is constantly sending drivers the wrong way down a one-way street. Once contacted by the media, Google finally said it would try and correct the error after months of ignoring complaints. [CBC]

💊 Sidney Hooper, suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer, is hoping a drug trial in the US can give her more time. Doctors have told her she only has months to live after chemotherapy stopped working for her. [Ottawa Citizen]

💐 The body of a woman reported missing last week was found in the river in Pakenham. The OPP are investigating, and are asking the public for help. [CBC]

🏛️ Three people have died in homeless encampments across the region in the last month. It’s a worrying and tragic trend that will only get worse as the housing crisis intensifies. [CBC]

🪧 Public sector strikes are set to begin across Quebec on Tuesday. Teachers, healthcare workers and more will walk off the job in a mass strike by a united front of unions. [CTV]


Staying informed about the world doesn’t have to be boring

Looking for news outside of just Ottawa? You may like International Intrigue.

It’s a free global affairs briefing created by former diplomats to help leaders like you understand how geopolitics, business and technology intersect. They deliver the most important international news and analysis in <5-minute daily briefing that you’ll actually look forward to reading.


What to do this week


🎼 Ottawa Celtic Showcase, Saturday 6:45 pm: A night of Celtic-inspired entertainment including Highland dancers, pipes and drums, and more. At École secondaire publique De La Salle, 501 Old Saint Patrick St. Adult tickets $28.

🪈 The Magic Flute by Mozart, Sunday 2:30 pm: An all-female version of the classic Mozart opera, where the forces of good and evil do battle. At First Baptist Church, 140 Laurier Ave. W. Tickets start at $28.


🎅🏻 Santa's Parade of Lights, Saturday 6 pm: The east end’s Santa parade is this weekend. Running from Youville to Centrum along St-Joseph Boulevard come out and see the lights with the whole family. Free.


📸 SPAO Open House, Friday 5 pm: The School of the Photographic Arts is hosting their annual open house and launching their annual publication. With live music and a holiday sale of art prints there’s plenty on offer. At SPAO Centre Galler, 77 Pamilla St. Free.


🎄 ADAAWE Indigenous Holiday Market, Saturday 9 am: More than 30 local Indigenous vendors with plenty of great gifts for the holidays. Traditional bannock and tea offered for free. Plenty of giveaways and more. At ADAAWE Hub, 338 Somerset St. W. Free!

🌲 Watson’s Mill Christmas Market, Saturday and Sunday: AT the historic buildings of Watson’s Mill in Manotick, more than 30 vendors will have plenty for the holiday gift-giving season. THere will also be classic Christmas carols played by the Manotick Brass Band. At 5524 Dickinson St. Admission by donation.


💃 World Multicultural Festival, Saturday 1 pm: Featuring performances and more from 70 cultural delegations, it’s one of the biggest cultural events of the year. At the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, 355 Cooper St. Free.

  • Health Canada has launched a recall of cantaloupes from Malichita, Save on Foods and Urban Fare for possible salmonella contamination. [CBC]

  • (Insiders only) The fine decor is just the start at Boujie, where the food delights. It’s a supper club beyond your expectations. [Capital Eats]

  • Would people be as upset by late buses if they looked like this whenever they drove up? [Reddit]

  • Winning both their games in Sweden has the Sens returning home on a high note. The team is seventh in the division with an 8-7 record. [Ottawa Senators]

  • The Cineplex VIP theatre at Lansdowne is looking rough these days. [Reddit]

  • Six local chef’s teams went head to head in the Ottawa Senior Chef’s Culinary Challenge to vie for a spot at the 2024 Canadian Culinary Championships. Who came out on top? [Capital Eats]

  • The Salvation Army Toy Mountain campaign kicks off today. You can donate a toy or money to the campaign here. [CTV]

  • Sparks Street might have a bad rap for being empty, but it sure is pretty this time of year. [Reddit]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


Alan Bacon/Ottawa Lookout Reader

Today’s photo comes from reader Alan Bacon, who has taken evening bike rides lately.

Do you have a photo you’d like to share with the Lookout community? Send it in!


Just like newspapers, we’ve got our own classified ads that help fund our journalism. See what organizations and businesses are up to around the city:

Glowing candles and the magical sounds of the season will surround you at Thirteen Strings' Christmas Candlelight concert. Get your tickets today!


Congrats to everyone who got last week’s Ottawa Wordle, the answer was TRAIL, as in the trail along Bruce Pit (last week's Guesser location).

For this week’s Ottawa Quiz, we want to know what the average wait time in a hospital ER to see a doctor is in Ontario. The first five people to write in with the correct answer will get their names mentioned in the next issue.

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