Ottawa’s death toll in connection with the novel coronavirus continues to climb as public health officials start to outline the criteria needed to lift the city’s pandemic restrictions.

Ottawa Public Health reported seven new deaths connected to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, between Tuesday and Wednesday.

The latest figures rival Ottawa’s deadliest day of the pandemic to date and bring the city’s death toll to 32.

The public health unit also identified 44 new lab-confirmed cases of the virus in Ottawa, pushing the local total to 943.

Ottawa’s climbing number of infections comes as the Ontario government declared earlier this week that the province’s COVID-19 cases had peaked thanks to effective efforts in flattening the curve.

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In a verbal update on the coronavirus pandemic given before the latest local COVID-19 figures were released Wednesday, the city’s medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, told Ottawa city council that it was too soon to definitively say whether the nation’s capital had also hit its peak.

Putting the rising count of infections aside, Etches told council during its biweekly meeting that the more important metric to consider was the number of people hospitalized in relation to the virus.

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