Forty-six new coronavirus cases and one new death have been reported in London-Middlesex, local health officials said Saturday
This comes a day after health officials reported 54 cases, the region’s largest single-day case jump since late January.
The death of a woman in her 80s is not associated with a long-term care or retirement home. It’s the first reported death in almost three weeks.
In addition, the number of previous cases that have screened as a variant of concern in the region has risen by five from the previous day.
The overall case increase brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 6,821, of which 6,301 have resolved, an increase of four from the day before.
At least 186 deaths have been reported. The region’s first recorded COVID-19-related death occurred exactly one year ago.
At least 334 cases are listed as being active in the region as of Saturday, according to the health unit.
London-Middlesex has recorded at least 635 cases since the start of the month, more than was recorded through all of February.
The region remains in the orange-restrict level of the province’s COVID-19 response framework, however, local health officials have stressed that if current case trends continue, the province could potentially put the region back into red or lockdown in the coming weeks.
Of the 46 new cases reported, 44 are from London.
Those infected skew younger, with more than half involving people under the age of 30. Thirteen cases are aged 19 or younger; 15 are in their 20s; six are in their 30s; five are in their 40s; four are in their 50s, two are in their 60s, and one case is a person in the 80-plus grouping. No cases involve people aged 70-79.
Nineteen cases are listed as being due to close contact, 13 are pending, exposure source data is not known for 10 cases, and four are linked to an outbreak. Eight have no known link.
According to the health unit, the number of cases in the region that have screened variant positive has increased by five from the day before to a total of 92. At least six have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. The rest remain under investigation.
People under the age of 30 make up more than half of the region’s screened variant cases, with 23 involving people 19 or younger, and 29 involving people in their 20s.
Such variants of concern have been accounting for more and more local cases, helping push the region’s caseload higher.
But local health officials say variants themselves are not fully to blame.
“The big climb in cases recently has been directly related to close personal contact indoors without personal protective equipment,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, on Thursday.
“That’s been the cause of the vast majority of cases recently as it has been for most of this pandemic. So we, again, encourage people to keep your interactions online, outside, masked, distanced — take those precautions, they make a difference.”
Earlier this week, the number of close contacts being reported per-case numbered eight to 10, according to the health unit.
Mackie says despite the increasing number of vaccinated residents, other countries that have much higher immunization rates have seen case and death rates rise after restrictions were lifted too soon.
“The vaccine campaign is moving forward, it’s moving forward as quickly as possible based on the supplies, but we cannot outrun human behaviour if people start to take on more risks,” he said.
Health officials have attributed the lower recent death toll to the ongoing vaccination campaign. Just two deaths have been reported so far this month.
“If you compare it to November — we had similar rates of cases in November — by this time in the month, we had six deaths,” Mackie said. “That is essentially all attributable to the vaccine campaign. We’re getting the vaccine into the right arms and protecting people from death.”
The region’s seven-day case average stood at 33 as of Friday, while the 14-day average stood at 27.14.
At least 5,957 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 269 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 219 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 98 in Thames Centre, 59 in Lucan Biddulph, 41 in Southwest Middlesex, 40 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.
At least 122 cases have pending location information.
The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre stands at 13 as of Friday, the most recent numbers available.
At the same time, six people are said to be in critical or intensive care, unchanged from the day before.
Fewer than five staff cases are active within LHSC, the organization says, down from six the day before.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meantime, the organization says three non-outbreak cases are currently active involving health-care workers. It’s not clear at which SJHCL facility the staff members work.
At least 377 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 68 who have needed intensive care. The total number of those who have ever been in hospital is an increase of five from the day before.
One new institutional outbreak has been declared in the region, and one has ended.
The outbreak at Henley Place LTC Residency is in the Victoria Unit was declared on March 26.
An outbreak now deemed to be over was first declared at Dearness Home on March 12.
As of Saturday, three institutional outbreaks remain active, with two at seniors’ facilities — declared on March 11 at Glendale Crossing (Brighton) and March 26 at Henley Place LTC Residence (Victoria Unit) — and one at University Hospital.
The University Hospital outbreak, declared March 12, involves the hospital’s U4-Medicine 1 unit, also known as 4IP General Medicine, the same unit that saw a significant outbreak in the fall.
The current outbreak has not seen the same trajectory as the previous one. As of Friday, only six patient cases had been linked to the outbreak, along with fewer than five staff cases and no deaths, all unchanged from Thursday.
Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains active at the city’s jail. The Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre outbreak was declared on Jan. 18 and has been linked to at least 30 inmate and 29 staff cases.
At least one inmate case was listed active at the jail as of Wednesday, according to provincial data. Similar information was not immediately available for staff cases.
A separate community outbreak linked to post-secondary parties that was declared earlier this month has seen no increase in cases since late last week. At least 49 cases had been confirmed as a result of the outbreak.
Global News does not update school cases on the weekend.
The Thames Valley District School Board reported one case each late Thursday at Nicholas Wilson Public School and Westminster Secondary School, both in London.
The London District Catholic School Board, meantime, reported one case each at Holy Rosary Catholic Elementary School and Mother Theresa Secondary School, both in London.
The health unit says at least 16 cases are active in the region that are associated with local schools. A full list can be found on the MLHU website.
One outbreak is listed as active, located at Wilberforce Public School.
At least 235 cases have been confirmed at local elementary and secondary schools, while 28 have been associated with child care and early years settings, the health unit says.
Two cases associated with child care/early years settings were listed as active Friday.
One is associated with London Bridge: Huron Heights Early Childhood Learning Centre in London, while the others involve YMCA Before and After School Program – North Meadows Elementary School in Strathroy-Caradoc.
In the post-secondary world, two new outbreaks have been declared at Western University. The one declared on Thursday is linked to Western University’s Ontario Hall student residence and a second on Friday is linked to the University’s Saugeen Hall residence.
An outbreak, declared March 2, remains active at Western University’s Essex Hall student residence.
Vaccinations and testing
More than 64,783 doses have been administered in the region as of March 21, the most recent figures available from the health unit.
Eligibility opened Monday to residents aged 75 to 79 and expanded further on Wednesday to Indigenous adults aged 16 or older and to certain faith leaders at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure as part of their regular roles, such as end-of-life care and home visits to unwell persons.
More information on eligibility can be found on the health unit’s website.
Eligible residents are asked to visit covidvaccinelm.ca or call 226-289-3560 (9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) to book an appointment. Online appointments are encouraged due to the high call volume.
Vaccine demand has continued to outpace supply, says Dr. Chris Mackie.
The local campaign has been operating on an “earn and burn” strategy, which has seen the vaccine administered quickly or quicker than it is coming into the community, Mackie said Thursday.
Because of the lacklustre rate of incoming doses, the region’s three mass vaccination clinics have been operating well below their maximum capacity, he added.
“Those could vaccinate 4,500 people per day. At the moment, we’re receiving vaccines in the order of 2,000-2,200 per day,” Mackie said.
“We’ve had our most recent allocation forecasting received (Thursday), and over the next few weeks the province is not expecting any increase in vaccines here.”
As a result of the supply issues, the health unit has had to delay the opening of its planned fourth vaccination clinic at Earl Nichols Recreation Centre. It’s not clear when the facility is set to open.
“We’d love to have a good reason to open that fourth mass vaccination centre right now, we just have nowhere near the vaccine that would justify that at this point,” Mackie said.
During Thursday’s briefing, Mackie was asked again when doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine may make their way to pharmacies in the London-Middlesex region as part of the province’s pilot project.
A pilot offering the vaccine to people 60 and older started this month in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor pharmacies.
The pilot will expand to 700 locations across the province in the coming weeks, then to approximately 1,500 sites as supply becomes available.
Health officials overseeing Elgin-Oxford have said that at least three pharmacies there would begin carrying the vaccine in the coming weeks.
“We have heard various rumours through pharmacies about AstraZeneca vaccine coming to them [at] some time along a similar timeline, perhaps in the next couple of weeks,” Mackie said.
“We haven’t heard any confirmation of that, and no direct communication about it from the Ministry of Health.”
Mackie also didn’t have an estimate for when the region would expand vaccines to those aged 70-74, as has begun in some other regions.
The region’s two main assessment centres, located at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.6 per cent as of the week of March 14, up from 1.2 the previous week.
Ontario reported 2,453 cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 340,692.
It marks the largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases for the province since Jan. 22, when 2,662 were reported. Saturday also marks the third day in a row that Ontario has reported more than 2,000 new cases.
“Locally, there are 814 new cases in Toronto, 411 in Peel, 263 in York Region, 156 in Hamilton, 139 in Durham and 115 in Ottawa,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.
Sixteen new deaths were also reported on Saturday, bringing the provincial death toll to 7,308.
A total of 315,865 COVID-19 cases are considered resolved, which is up by 1,481 and is 92.7 per cent of all confirmed cases.
The province indicated that the positivity rate for the last day was 4.5 per cent, which is up from Friday’s report, when it was 3.8 per cent, and up from last Saturday’s report when it was 3.6 per cent.
There have been 1,523 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K. (up by 29), as well as 63 of the B.1.351 variant which was discovered in South Africa (up by three), and 61 cases of the P.1 variant, first found in Brazil (up by three).
There have been 17,611 other COVID-19 cases that have screened positive for a virus mutation, which is up by 931.
As of Friday evening, 1,916,332 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Ontario, marking an increase of 77,740.
So far, 308,301 people in the province are considered to be fully vaccinated.
Elgin and Oxford
Southwestern Public Health does not update case numbers on weekends. The below information was last updated on Friday.
One death and 10 new coronavirus cases were reported Friday by officials with Southwestern Public Health.
The death, which health unit officials say involved a man in his 60s from Oxford County and was not linked to a seniors’ facility, is the region’s 68th death and is the first to be reported in more than a month. The previous death was reported on Feb. 20.
With the update, it leaves the region’s pandemic case tally at 2,741, of which 2,597 have resolved, an increase of 13 from the day before. Health officials reported eight new cases and six resolved cases on Thursday.
As of Friday, 76 cases are listed as active in Elgin-Oxford. Twenty-six are located in Woodstock, while 15 are in St. Thomas and nine in Central Elgin. At least two people are in hospital, the health unit says.
The number of screened variant positive cases in the region stands at 57 as of Friday, seven more than the day before and 29 more than last Friday. At least 20 cases are still active.
Five screened cases have since been confirmed through genomic sequencing to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.
The other 52 have not been sequenced, but are presumed to involve the same variant, the health unit says.
The region remains in the orange-restrict level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.
At least 7,618 residents in Elgin-Oxford have seen at least one vaccine dose in the health unit says, while 3,921 have seen both doses.
Health officials said this week that at least three pharmacies in Elgin-Oxford would begin carrying the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming weeks as part of the province’s expanded pharmacy pilot project.
Details remain elusive as to which pharmacies will see the vaccine.
No new school cases have been reported in the region, according to the Thames Valley District and London District Catholic school boards.
At least 13 cases are active at schools in the region.
Five are located at St. Patrick’s Catholic Elementary School in Woodstock, while one each is active at Arthur Voaden Secondary School, College Avenue Secondary School, Davenport Public School, Harrisfield Public School, Huron Park Secondary School, Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute, South Dorchester Public School, and Southside Public School.
Meantime, no new institutional outbreaks have been declared and there are none currently active, according to the health unit.
The health unit says a total of 577 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 455 have been in Aylmer, 450 in St. Thomas and 344 in Tillsonburg.
Elsewhere, 207 cases have been in Norwich, 163 in Bayham, 127 in Ingersoll, 115 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 60 in Central Elgin, 57 in Zorra, 56 in Blandford-Blenheim, 51 in South-West Oxford, 25 in Southwold, 24 in Dutton/Dunwich, 20 in West Elgin and nine in Malahide.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.6 per cent as of the week of March 14, up from 1.2 per cent the previous week, health unit figures show.
Huron and Perth
One new case was reported in the region, officials with Huron Perth Public Health said Saturday.
The region’s pandemic case tally stands at 1,408, of which 1,346 have resolved, an increase of four from the day before. At least 50 deaths have been reported, most recently on March 1.
Twelve cases are active in Huron-Perth, with six in Stratford, three in South Huron, two in Perth South, and one in Central Huron. None of the infected individuals are currently in hospital.
The number of screened variant positive cases in the region stands at six as of Saturday, unchanged from the day before. Two are still active. A specific variant has not been identified in any of the six cases.
The region remains in the yellow-protect level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework. It recorded no new cases on Thursday.
Huron Perth Public Health says in addition to Indigenous adults and certain faith leaders, people over the age of 70, born 1951 or earlier, are now eligible to receive a vaccine in the region.
Those looking to book a vaccination appointment are asked to do so via the health unit’s booking website or by calling 1-833-753-2098.
More information on the local vaccination campaign and eligibility can be found on the HPPH website.
“HPPH has been able to book many of our callers for an appointment in under a week,” said Dr. Miriam Klassen, the region’s medical officer of health, in a statement. “There continue to be many available appointment times.”
HPPH says it has administered at least 15,544 vaccine doses since March 25, the most recent figures available.
No new school cases have been reported in the region.
Two are active — one at Romeo Public School and one at St. Michael Catholic Secondary School, both in Stratford.
No new outbreaks have been declared and none are currently active, the health unit says.
At least 558 cases have been reported in Perth County, including 348 in North Perth and 138 in Perth East. At least 462 been reported in Huron County, with 104 in South Huron and 101 in Huron East.
Stratford has reported at least 355 in total, while St. Marys has seen 33.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.5 per cent as of the week of March 14, down from 0.8 the week before.
Sarnia and Lambton
Thirty-seven new coronavirus cases and 45 new recoveries were reported in Lambton County, officials with Lambton Public Health reported Saturday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,758, of which 2,501. At least 48 deaths have been reported during the pandemic, most recently on Thursday.
As of Saturday, 209 cases are active in the county, with at least six people listed in the care of Bluewater Health — a decrease of one from the day before.
Lambton Public Health does not update detailed information on the weekend. The below information was last updated Friday.
At least 74 screened variant positive cases have been reported in Lambton, two more than the day before. All remain under investigation to determine which specific variant is involved.
The region remains in grey-lockdown of the province’s COVID-19 response framework where it will remain next week.
The local vaccination campaign continues and has administered at least 16,454 doses as of March 23, the most recent figures available.
Of those, 14,910 have seen just first doses while 1,544 have been fully vaccinated.
In an update earlier this week, the health unit said all first and second doses to long-term care, high-risk retirement and elder care homes had finished.
Initial doses to long-term care and retirement home staff, essential caregivers, medical first responders, those 90 and older and their in-home caregivers were almost complete.
Vaccines continue to be administered to health-care workers, adult recipients of chronic home health care, and those 75 and older (or who are turning 75 this year) along with one in-home caregiver who resides in the same home.
Clinics to vaccinate Indigenous adults continue to be held in all three local First Nations communities including Aamjiwnaang, Kettle and Stony Point, and Walpole Island.
Those eligible to book a vaccine appointment are asked to visit the health unit’s website or call 519-383-8331.
On Tuesday it was announced that the health unit was launching its own pilot project to administer the Moderna vaccine to residents with high-risk chronic health conditions through four local primary care practice groups.
The groups are Central Lambton Family Health Team, Twin Bridges Nurse Practitioner Clinic, Rapids Family Health Team, and North Lambton Community Health Centre.
More primary care groups will be able to join the pilot, which is not related to the one being run by the province at pharmacies, as supply of the vaccine becomes more stable and the AstraZeneca vaccine becomes more widely available.
More information on the local vaccine rollout can be found on the health unit’s website.
At least two new school cases were reported in Lambton, with one at Lambton Centennial Public School and one at London Road School, the Lambton-Kent District School Board said.
One school outbreak was declared over on Thursday.
The outbreak had been declared active on March 10 at Brooke Central Public School and was linked to at least seven cases there, the health unit says.
Outbreak declarations remain active at the following schools:
- Confederation Central Public School (five cases)
- Holy Trinity Catholic School (three cases)
- King George Public School (two cases)
- North Lambton Secondary School (13 cases)
- Northern High School (two cases)
- St. Patrick’s Catholic High School (two cases).
One institutional outbreak has been resolved, while two workplace outbreaks have been declared active.
The resolved outbreak had been declared on March 11 at Vision Nursing Home and was linked to at least one staff case.
The two new workplace outbreaks, meantime, are linked to three and four cases, respectively.
Elsewhere, six seniors’ facility outbreaks remain active in Lambton, declared on:
- March 23 at Rosewood Retirement Village (one resident case)
- March 20 at Fairwinds Lodge in Sarnia (one staff case)
- March 19 at Afton Park Place in Sarnia (one resident case, two staff cases)
- March 18 at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia (one staff case)
- March 16 at Sumac Lodge in Sarnia (one staff case)
- March 11 at Trillium Villa in Sarnia (three staff cases)
At least 15 outbreaks in total are active in Lambton as of Friday, the health unit says, including those at schools, seniors’ facilities and workplaces.
The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 3.7 per cent the week of March 14, up from 3.3 a week earlier.
–With files from Matthew Trevithick, Ryan Rocca, and The Canadian Press
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