No new coronavirus cases in London-Middlesex, outbreaks in Lambton, Oxford counties worsen

For the first time in two weeks, no new coronavirus cases have been reported in London and Middlesex, according to officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU).

Instead, the number of confirmed cases in the region has actually declined by two to 491 after two tests previously flagged as positive were re-analyzed and determined to be negative, MLHU said.

Health officials also reported seven new recoveries, bringing that total to 357, or about 72.7 per cent of cases. Forty-eight people have died, a figure that remained unchanged.

The news comes as two active outbreaks at seniors’ homes in Lambton and Oxford counties have reportedly worsened, according to those region’s respective health units.

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The last time no new cases were reported in London and Middlesex was exactly two weeks ago on May 8, according to the health unit. Previously, there were no new cases reported on March 21 as well.

It caps off a shortened workweek that saw six new cases and nine recoveries reported on Thursday, three new cases and four recoveries on Wednesday, and 11 new cases on Tuesday.

As of Friday, 454 of the region’s cases have been reported in London, two fewer than the day before as a result of the re-evaluated tests.

Elsewhere, there have been 20 cases in Strathroy-Caradoc, seven in Middlesex Centre, four in North Middlesex, four in Thames Centre and one each in Lucan-Biddulph and Southwest Middlesex.

It’s not clear how many cases remain active in each location.

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During the health unit’s media briefing Friday, Dr. Chris Mackie stressed the need for Londoners to continue following pandemic guidelines, such as social distancing, heading into what is expected to be a warm weekend.

“Some people are continuing to be very careful, others have unfortunately let their guard down. And you’re seeing that play out in some of the numbers locally and provincially,” he said.

“Canadians have been the number one ally in fighting coronavirus, and the steps that we all took to isolate closed businesses and be careful with ourselves and with others, those are the only reasons why we’ve been able to curb this pandemic.

“If we lose the support of Canadians, and people start to let their guards down, that’s when we’ll see this come right back. And that’s starting to become very obvious.”


A chart from the MLHU showing the number of cases in London and Middlesex by reported date, Jan. 24 to May 22, 2020. Middlesex-London Health Unit

Twenty per cent of the region’s cases have involved hospitalizations, including 5.6 per cent who have been admitted to intensive care. A majority of hospitalized cases in London and Middlesex, 73 out of 99 cases, have involved patients over 60, health unit data shows.

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A total of 17 COVID-19 patients were being treated in University and Victoria hospitals as of midnight Friday, with one patient in intensive care, according to London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

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The number of active outbreaks remains unchanged at seven, with all at local long-term care and retirement homes. The facilities have accounted for at least 17 of the 22 outbreaks that have been declared since the beginning of the pandemic, and at least 162 of the region’s 491 cases and 28 of its 48 deaths.

The most recent outbreak was declared on Wednesday at Henley Place, a long-term care home in London. It’s the second outbreak to be declared at the home, after an outbreak that was active from March 28 until May 17.

At least 17 cases have been reported at the facility over the course of the two outbreaks, health unit data shows, involving at least 14 residents and three staff. At least six residents have died.

A chart from MLHU showing the number of cases in London and Middlesex by association with a long-term care home, retirement home, or other, Jan. 24 to May 22, 2020. Middlesex-London Health Unit

Outbreaks remain active at Country Terrace, Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care (St. Mary’s 5th Floor), Waverly Mansion, Sisters of St. Joseph, Meadow Park Care Centre and Kensington Village (LTCH).

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As of Friday, 98 cases have been reported in long-term care homes involving 58 residents and 40 staff members, while 63 cases have been reported in retirement homes involving 43 residents and 20 staff members. Twenty-one deaths have been reported at long-term care homes, and seven at retirement homes.

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The local outbreaks are among at least 406 that have been declared at seniors facilities across the province since mid-January, of which 290 remained active as of Thursday afternoon, according to Public Health Ontario.

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Of the region’s cases, 26 per cent, or 126 cases, involve local health-care workers, according to the health unit. Ten cases are listed as active as of Friday. Eighty-five per cent of the cases involve women, and all but seven are in London.

At least 41 LHSC staff members have tested positive during the pandemic, according to the organization, a figure that remains unchanged from its previous update on Wednesday. It’s not clear how many cases have resolved and where the staff worked within LHSC.

According to Public Health Ontario, at least 346 hospital staff members across the province have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since mid-January — about 15 per cent of all cases involving health-care workers, including those at long-term care homes and retirement homes.

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Provincially, Ontario reported 441 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and 28 more deaths.

That brings the provincial total to 24,628, which is a 1.8 per cent increase over the previous day’s total.

Ontario’s growth rate in cases has steadily hovered between 1.5 and 1.9 per cent for 12 of the past 13 days.

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Chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams has said the numbers are in a plateau, and called it disappointing.

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Ontario’s total includes 2,021 deaths and 18,767 cases that have been resolved.

The number of completed tests rose a bit to 11,276, which is still well short of the province’s capacity of over 21,000 per day.

The federal government will fund the provinces’ efforts to test people, track the contacts of those who test positive, and help different jurisdictions share data, the prime minister announced Friday.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the measures are essential because COVID-19 remains a serious health threat and the economy can’t fully recover until Canadians are confident that the novel coronavirus will be contained anywhere new it breaks out.

He says federal contact-tracers are helping public health authorities in Ontario and are ready to make thousands more calls a day when any province asks.

Canada nominally has the capacity to test 60,000 people per day, but has been averaging only about 28,000.

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Elgin and Oxford

Five more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus while one person has recovered, bringing the total number of cases in Elgin and Oxford to 71, with 57 recoveries — about 80 per cent — and four deaths.

Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) also announced that an outbreak declared earlier this week at a long-term care facility in Ingersoll had worsened, with an additional six staff members having since tested positive.

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So far, seven staff have been confirmed positive at Secord Trails Care Community as of Friday morning. The outbreak was declared on May 18.

“The affected staff hold various positions with varying levels of contact with residents. They are all self-isolating at home,” read a statement from the health unit.

“No residents have been confirmed positive at this time. Some laboratory results are still pending.”

In a statement, the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Joyce Lock, said a majority of the staff live within the region served by SWPH, adding the health unit is working to inform people of their results, contact trace, and provide necessary guidance.

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“At the same time, we’re working closely with the leadership team and staff at Secord Trails on their strategy to contain the spread and help them connect with the resources they need to care for their residents safely during the outbreak period,” she said.

The outbreak at Secord Trails is one of three to be declared in the region. The other two, at Beattie Manor and Caressant Care Bonnie Place, have since been resolved.

A chart from SWPH showing the per cent positivity rate of coronavirus tests in the region, April 3 to May 22, 2020. Southwestern Public Health

Ten cases remain active in SWPH jurisdiction, nine of them in Oxford County, including four in Ingersoll, two in Tillsonburg and Woodstock, and one in East Zorra-Tavistock.

One is located in Elgin County in Malahide, according to the health unit.

As of Friday, 3,855 tests had been administered in Elgin and Oxford counties. Of those, 231 were awaiting results.

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The region’s test per cent positivity stands at 2 per cent, up from 1.9 the day before. The figure has steadily declined over time as the health unit has conducted more tests.

Huron and Perth

No new cases, recoveries or deaths have been reported in Huron and Perth counties, health officials there said Friday.

It keeps the total number of confirmed cases at 50, of which 44 have recovered and five have died.

The region’s lone active case was reported on Thursday. It was the first time a case had been reported by the health unit in nearly three weeks.

A chart from HPPH showing cumulative totals of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recoveries from early March to May 20, 2020. The health unit notes the graph uses symptom onset date for cumulative confirmed cases. If the person does not have symptoms, the date of the swab test is used. Huron Perth Public Health

Health officials say the new case involves a resident of Maitland Manor, a long-term care home in Goderich, which has declared an outbreak — the region’s seventh and only active outbreak.

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The resident is in stable condition and contract tracing is ongoing, the health unit said in a statement Friday.

“This case is a reminder that despite the downward trend in number of cases, the virus is still circulating in our communities and we cannot become complacent,” the statement said.

“We all still need to maintain physical distancing, wash hands frequently and stay home when sick.”

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Six other outbreaks have been declared during the pandemic. Two, at Braemar Retirement Centre and Exeter Villa, were declared resolved just this week.

Nearly half of all cases reported in Huron and Perth, 23, are linked to the outbreaks, which have seen 14 staff and eight resident cases, health unit figures show.

Of the region’s five deaths, four have been linked to the resolved outbreak at Greenwood Court in Stratford. The home saw 10 staff infections and six resident infections.

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Stratford itself has seen 25 of the region’s reported cases.

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Thirteen cases have been reported in Huron County, with all but one resolved, while 10 have been reported in Perth County.

In St. Marys, one person out of the city’s two reported cases died, while one recovered.

As of Friday, the health unit says 2,619 tests have been administered in Huron and Perth. Of those, 77 were awaiting test results.

Sarnia and Lambton

Eight people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, five at a hard-hit Sarnia nursing home, and three people have recovered, health officials in Lambton County reported late Thursday in their latest update.

It brings the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 243, of which 173 have recovered — about 71 per cent — and 19 have died.

Five of the cases are linked to Vision Nursing Home, a long-term care facility in Sarnia, which has had an active outbreak of COVID-19 since April 23. Three of the new cases involve residents of the home, while two cases involve staff members.

It’s the third day in a row that cases have been confirmed at the facility, which has now seen a total of 20 residents and 18 staff test positive, including four residents who later died.

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Health officials reported five new cases at the facility on Wednesday and four new cases on Thursday.

A chart from Lambton Public Health showing the number of confirmed cases in the county by reported date, March 24 to May 21, 2020. Lambton Public Health

The facility is home to one of three active outbreaks in Lambton, all in Sarnia.

The other two, at Marshall Gowland Manor and Village on the St. Clair, have seen one resident test positive and two residents test positive, respectively. Both outbreaks were declared active on May 15.

It’s unclear how many cases linked to the three outbreaks remain active.

Three other outbreaks at Landmark Village, Lambton Meadowview Villa and Sumac Lodge have since been declared over.

Landmark Village remains the worst outbreak to be seen in the county, with 30 resident and 10 staff cases, and six resident deaths. It was declared over May 6.

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Health unit figures show long-term care and retirement home residents make up nearly a quarter of all cases, 22 per cent, while health-care workers make up 17 per cent.

That tally includes at least 15 staff infections at Bluewater Health in Sarnia, of which eight had recovered as of Wednesday.

The hospital was treating five confirmed COVID-19 patients as of Friday morning, in addition to 16 patients who were suspected positive or awaiting tests.

As of late Thursday, 5,431 test results had been received by the county. Health officials don’t say how many tests are pending results.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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