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Early race-based COVID-19 data showing Ottawa minority groups affected at high rate

Ottawa's Chief Medical Officer of Health says it doesn't have much to do with the colour of a person's skin, but more to do with the challenges people face in their environments to physically distance.
Photo: Tube containing a swab sample that has tested positive for COVID-19/Shutterstock

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is noticing a pattern in early race-based data it's collected.

"Sixty-six per cent of the people, when we had this information, who were infected with COVID-19, do identify as coming from racialized groups," explains Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches. "And that compares to 26 per cent of Ottawans who, in the census data, are identified as a visible minority."

OPH started looking at race-based data on May 8. Since then, there have been 144 lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the city.

Dr. Etches says more than half of those cases were identified as affecting new immigrants, while Ottawa's most recent census shows immigrants account for less than one quarter of residents in the capital.

"Whether or not someone is infected with COVID doesn't have so much to do with the colour of their skin," says the medical officer. "It has a lot more to do with those underlying factors, like income and employment and the challenges people face in their environments to physically distance."

Dr. Etches says OPH will continue to collect race-based data, as it provides the health unit with more details to move forward with and assist the populations that need it most.


Mike Vlasveld

About the Author: Mike Vlasveld

Mike Vlasveld, Village Media Community Editor,
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