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Middlesex-London reports 13 new COVID-19 cases, 2 cases confirmed at Stratford long-term care home

FILE - A health-care worker closes a biohazard bag after issuing a COVID-19 test in Montreal, Sunday, March 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Health officials in London and Middlesex on Thursday confirmed 13 new cases of COVID-19 along with one more resolved case, while Lambton, Oxford and Perth counties all confirmed new cases, including two at an area long-term care home.

Details about the 13 new cases, including the age, gender, source of transmission and current status of each patient, were not immediately available from the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU).

The health unit has changed how it reports new cases publicly. Instead of releasing individual case details, a daily aggregate tally is now being provided.

READ MORE: London, Ont., jail poorly prepared for potential COVID-19 outbreak — inmate lawyer, employee rep

Thursday’s update brings the total number of confirmed cases in London and Middlesex to 79, including nine resolved cases and three deaths.

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Fourteen new cases were confirmed in the area on Wednesday — an increase health officials have attributed partially to the clearing of testing backlogs.

“It’s also that the rate of the virus is going up,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, medical officer of health and CEO of the MLHU in an interview Thursday, noting an increase in the number of tests that have been coming back positive.

“If you looked back a week or two ago, it would’ve been three to four per cent of people being tested were positive… But that percentage positive is now closer to six to eight percent.”

Two deaths were reported on Tuesday and one over the weekend.

The deceased include a woman in her 80s who tested positive on March 25 after becoming infected through close contact with another case and a woman in her 90s who tested positive on Monday but whose transmission source remains unclear.

The area’s first death involved a man in his 70s who tested positive on March 19 and who became infected during travel to Portugal.

As of Thursday, 18 COVID-19 patients were being treated by London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC): 10 at University Hospital and eight at Victoria Hospital. Five patients at each hospital are in intensive care, according to LHSC.

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READ MORE: 401 new coronavirus cases in Ontario, total rises to 2,793 cases and 53 deaths

Provincially, Ontario reported 401 more COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 16 more deaths, bringing the total number of cases reported to 2,793 cases, including 831 resolved cases and 53 deaths.

As of Thursday, 405 patients are hospitalized with the virus, 167 are in intensive care and 112 of those in intensive care are on a ventilator.

A Bobcaygeon nursing home also reported two more deaths of residents in a COVID-19 outbreak there, bringing the total to 16.

Twenty-six outbreaks have been reported in Ontario long-term care homes as of Wednesday, the latest figure available. Across the province, 163 long-term care home residents and 119 staff members have tested positive.

In London, officials with Grand Wood Park reported Tuesday that two residents of the home had tested positive for COVID-19 the day before. No further details were provided, but Grand Wood said the two were in self-isolation.

Nationally, more than 10,100 cases had been confirmed across the country as of late Thursday morning, including 1,670 resolved cases and 127 deaths.

READ MORE: Canada hits over 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases

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Elgin and Oxford

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Officials with Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) reported three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oxford County on Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to seven and the total number in SWPH’s jurisdiction to 18.

The agency covers Elgin and Oxford counties and St. Thomas.

Of the seven cases reported in Oxford, two have been resolved and one is in hospital

The new cases involve one woman in her 30s who is self-isolating and two women in their 50s, one of whom is self-isolating. The status of the third was not available, and transmission source information was pending for all three.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — More than 11M masks recently arrived in Canada, Trudeau says

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No new cases were reported in Elgin County, which has seen 11 cases confirmed so far, including one from St. Thomas, along with two deaths — the only deaths recorded so far by SWPH.

According to health officials, 371 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Elgin and Oxford counties as of Thursday morning, with 117 awaiting results.

On Wednesday, 62 physicians and nurse practitioners from Oxford County signed a joint letter pleading for residents in the county to follow health guidelines and stay home.

“We now have community spread of the virus within southwestern Ontario, and time is of the essence for implementing changes to ‘flatten the curve’ before this pandemic overwhelms our health-care system,” the letter states.

“As the physicians and nurse practitioners who have dedicated their careers and their lives to keeping you healthy, PLEASE heed our advice.”

Huron and Perth

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Huron and Perth has risen to 16 after health officials there confirmed six new cases, including two at a long-term care home in Stratford, Ont.

Both residents of Greenwood Court are symptomatic but not hospitalized and are in isolation, said Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH), adding the care home is following up with close contacts of the confirmed cases.

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The cases mark the second and third times COVID-19 has been confirmed at a long-term care home in Huron and Perth after a confirmed case was reported at Hillside Manor, a long-term care home near Sebringville, Ont., on Monday, HPPH said.

The health unit says that of the 16 cases it has confirmed, three have been in St. Marys, seven have been in Stratford and six have been in Huron County. It’s not clear how many cases have been resolved. As of Wednesday afternoon, 30 COVID-19 tests were awaiting results.

One death has been reported in Huron and Perth. Health officials have said it involved the area’s first confirmed patient — a 64-year-old St. Marys, Ont. man.

The man has been identified as Craig MacDonald, the owner of St. Marys Stonetown Foodland, according to a report by CTV London. MacDonald tested positive for COVID-19 on March 14 after travelling to Mexico, and had been listed in critical condition in hospital in Stratford as of Saturday.

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MacDonald died in hospital on Sunday, according to an obituary posted by Andrew L. Hodges Funeral Home.

A 57-year-old St. Marys woman who had close household contact with MacDonald became the area’s second confirmed case on March 18. She was in self-isolation as of Saturday.

Sarnia and Lambton

Three additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed Thursday by health officials in Lambton County, bringing the total number of cases there to 59.

Seventeen positive cases were confirmed on Wednesday, along with two patient deaths. The increase was attributed to a clearing of testing backlogs.

READ MORE: U.S. coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes surge amid lockdown measures

Six people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have died in the county, according to Lambton Public Health (LPH).

Eleven of the county’s confirmed cases and four of its deaths involve the Landmark Village retirement home in Sarnia, where an outbreak has been declared, according to health officials and the city’s mayor, Mike Bradley.

The home is one of 26 across Ontario where outbreaks have been reported, according to the province.

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The two deaths reported Wednesday involved a patient in their 70s and a patient in their 80s who had been admitted to Sarnia’s Bluewater Health Hospital on Monday and died on Tuesday.

The patient in their 80s was confirmed positive on Monday, while the patient in their 70s was confirmed positive on Wednesday, health officials said.

The county’s first four COVID-19-related deaths, reported on Sunday and Monday, involved patients over the age of 70 who had been hospitalized at Bluewater Health in Sarnia and who died on March 26, 27 and 29, according to LPH.

READ MORE: Pharmacists fear for their safety due to mask and glove shortages amid coronavirus pandemic

According to Lambton health officials, as of Wednesday afternoon, more than 80 per cent of cases confirmed in the county involved patients over the age of 60. Sixty-three per cent involved patients over 70.

Officials at Bluewater Health Hospital say 25 patients are in their care with confirmed COVID-19, while another 13 are in the hospital who are suspected cases or are awaiting test results.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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