2 new coronavirus cases, 2 recoveries in London-Middlesex; 1 death reported in Elgin-Oxford

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020.
A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Two people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in London and Middlesex, two people have recovered, and the lone active outbreak in the region has been declared over, local health officials reported Friday.

The update brings the total number of confirmed cases in the region to 629, of which 510 people have recovered and 57 have died.

Health officials reported one new case on Thursday, one recovery on Wednesday, one new case and two recoveries on Tuesday, and three new cases and three recoveries on Monday.

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One of the new cases was reported in London, Ont., while the other was reported in Middlesex Centre. Both involve staff at local long-term care homes, according to the health unit.

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Despite the cases being linked to care homes, neither has prompted a new outbreak declaration as of early Friday afternoon.

Under earlier provincial guidelines, seniors’ homes were told to consider one lab-confirmed case involving a patient or staff as a confirmed outbreak that would then be declared in collaboration with the local health unit.

During the MLHU’s media briefing on Friday, however, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, explained that a change last month to those guidelines has since given the health unit more flexibility on declaring outbreaks at homes in certain situations.

“First of all, the individuals who tested positive in both cases have never been symptomatic… That’s a sign that if they were positive, it would be likely at a low-level disease. It also could be a sign that they were a false positive,” Mackie said.

“When you’re making the decision about putting a whole long-term care/retirement home into outbreak, it’s a significant decision. And of course, we do that when we need to. But in this situation, we think the risk is very low.”

Mackie explained what he meant by “low risk,” saying the two staff members are able to isolate at home, regardless of the health unit thinking they may be false positives, and that the pair’s test samples showed a “tiny, tiny” amount of the virus.

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“Which again… on the one hand, it could indicate that these are false positives. On the other hand, it could indicate that even if positive, they’re very, very unlikely to be infective,” he said.

“The other factor here, [is] both these staff are going for a second test and will stay isolated at home until that second test result is available. So essentially risk to the staff and patients in those facilities is nonexistent related to these cases.”

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The region’s only active outbreak was declared over Thursday afternoon, according to the health unit’s most recent outbreak report.

The outbreak at Westmount Gardens, declared June 18, had seen at least three staff members of the long-term care home test positive for the virus.

The outbreak was among 26 that have been declared in the region so far during the pandemic, of which 21 have involved long-term care and retirement homes.

According to the health unit, these facilities have accounted for 180 of the region’s cases — 112 at long-term care homes and 68 at retirement homes — and 37 of its deaths — 24 at long-term care homes and 13 at retirement homes.

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Though the facilities made up a large chunk of cases in April and May, the majority of new local cases in recent weeks have involved community transmission, according to the health unit.

Provincewide, 520 outbreaks have been declared at long-term care and retirement homes, of which 75 remained active as of Thursday.

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Hospitalizations remain low, according to London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), which reports the number is below five.

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At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, no COVID-19 patients are being treated at any of the organization’s facilities.

According to health unit data, only three cases that have involved hospitalizations remain active in the region, though it’s unclear whether the patients are still in hospital or are recovering at home. All three had been hospitalized, but did not need intensive care.

At least 81 cases have involved a patient being hospitalized, but not in intensive care, while 31 have seen patients needing intensive care. None of the intensive care unit-admitted cases are still active.

At least 13 ICU-admitted people have died, the youngest being a man in his 40s, health unit data shows.

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People over 50 make up 99 of the region’s 112 hospitalized cases. Seniors’ homes are only associated with 29 of those cases.

Overall, there have been two hospitalized cases involving people in their 20s, three involving people in their 30s and seven involving people in their 40s.

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Staff cases at hospitals also remain largely unchanged.

While an exact tally is not known at LHSC, staff cases have not risen by five or more in order to prompt an updated figure to be issued.

The last tally released by LHSC in early June reported at least 42 staff cases during the pandemic.

At St. Joseph’s, meantime, at least 19 staff members have tested positive during the pandemic, a figure that has not changed for at least two weeks.

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Provincially, Ontario reported 165 new cases of COVID-19 and two deaths on Friday.

The total number of cases now stands at 35,535, which includes 30,909 marked as resolved and 2,682 deaths.

The province reported 179 resolved cases over the previous day.

The province completed more than 24,194 tests for the novel coronavirus over the previous 24 hours.

Elgin and Oxford

One person has died from the novel coronavirus, officials with Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) reported Friday.

The number of confirmed cases in the region remains unchanged at 83, of which 44 have resolved and now five people have died.

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It’s the first COVID-19-related death to be reported in the region since April 22, according to health unit figures.

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The death did not involve one of the two cases the health unit has reported as being active over the past week.

According to a health unit spokesperson, the deceased was only confirmed positive with the coronavirus after their death in hospital.

The individual, a 68-year-old Aylmer, Ont.-area woman, had been admitted to hospital in Tillsonburg on Wednesday, SWPH communications manager Megan Cornwall said in an email Friday.

“Southwestern Public Health is investigating potential spread within her close contacts and will implement contact tracing and case management as required,” she said.

Health officials reported no new cases, deaths or recoveries on Thursday, Tuesday and Monday. No update was provided on Wednesday.

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Two cases remain active in the region as of Friday, both in Elgin County. One is located in Dutton/Dunwich, while the other is in Malahide.

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A total of three outbreaks have been declared during the pandemic; all have resolved.

As of Thursday, 8,796 tests had been conducted in Elgin and Oxford counties, with 99 people still awaiting test results.

The percentage of tests that come back positive is one per cent. It has stayed at one per cent since June 23.

Huron and Perth

One person has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials with Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) reported Friday.

The new case brings the cumulative total of cases for Huron and Perth to 58, of which 52 people have recovered and five have died.

The case, currently the lone active one in the region, was reported in Perth County, according to the health unit.

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Health officials reported no new cases, deaths or recoveries on Thursday, and reported one recovery on Tuesday. No update was provided on Wednesday.

The recovered case on Tuesday resulted in there being, for a short period, zero active cases in the region for the first time since March.

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Overall, the region has seen 26 cases and four deaths in Stratford, 14 cases in Perth County, 14 in Huron County and four cases and one death in St. Marys.

The four Stratford deaths were linked to an outbreak at Greenwood Court that ended May 11.

As of Friday, a total of 8,563 people had been tested in the region.

Sarnia and Lambton

No new cases, deaths or recoveries have been reported and Lambton’s lone active outbreak has been declared over, local health officials said late Thursday.

The number of cases reported in the region remains at 285, of which 257 people have recovered and 25 have died. There are three active cases in the region.

Health officials reported no new cases, deaths or recoveries on Wednesday, two recoveries on Tuesday and one recovery on Monday.

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After two weeks, an outbreak at Afton Park Place, a long-term care home in Sarnia, has been declared over by health officials. One staff member at the facility had tested positive.

It was the last remaining active outbreak in the county. A total of nine have been declared since March.

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At least 105 cases and 16 deaths have been attributed to the outbreaks.

A vast majority of those cases, and all outbreak deaths, are linked to two outbreaks at Landmark Village and Vision Nursing Home. The facilities saw a combined 94 cases and 16 deaths reported.

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Bluewater Health hospital reported no COVID-19 patients in its care as of Friday, and 18 who were suspected positive or had tests pending.

It’s been nearly three weeks since the hospital treated a confirmed COVID-19 patient.

The last confirmed patient was discharged on June 14. The hospital has since closed its COVID-19 unit.

At least 19 staff at the hospital have themselves tested positive for the virus during the pandemic.

At least 12,625 test results had been received by the health unit as of late Wednesday.

The health unit says 2.3 per cent of tests conducted have come back positive.

— With files from the Canadian Press