Coronavirus: 11 cases, 10 recoveries, 1 resolved outbreak reported in London-Middlesex

Colourized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (tan) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (orange), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Md. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Eleven people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 10 more people have recovered, officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reported on Thursday.

The region has recorded a total of 1,071 cases since the pandemic began, of which 944 people have recovered and 59 have died. The most recent death was reported on Wednesday involving a 71-year-old man. The death was the second to be reported in under a week.

Thursday’s update leaves 68 known active cases in the city and county.

Of the 11 new cases, all are from London, health unit data shows. Four are aged 19 or younger, four are in their 20s, and one each are in their 40s, 60s and 80s.

Eight cases are the result of close contact with confirmed cases, two cases are listed as having a pending or undetermined source, and one has no known link.

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At the same time, the health unit’s non-intensive care hospitalized case tally rose by one compared to the previous day. It’s at least the third day in a row that the tally has risen by one. On Monday, it rose by two.

A total of 127 people have been hospitalized during the pandemic, including 33 in intensive care.

It’s not clear how many people are currently in hospital. St. Joseph’s Health Care London reported no COVID-19 patients in its care Thursday, while London Health Sciences Centre says it will issue a tally on Mondays but only if the number of inpatients with COVID-19 is above five.

Health officials reported one death, nine cases and six recoveries on Wednesday, six cases and eight recoveries on Tuesday, 11 cases and 12 recoveries on Monday, and four cases and seven recoveries on Sunday.

At least 191 cases have been reported in the region since the start of the month as it continues to deal with a second wave of the virus. At least 339 cases have been reported since the start of September.

Of those, at least 96 have involved people aged 19 or younger, while 110 have involved people in their 20s, and 37 people in their 30s. Health unit officials said last month that a sizable number of cases reported at the time were linked to gatherings and outings at downtown bars and restaurants.

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“We’re seeing slightly older average cases, but we still have a lot of spread amongst young people in their 20s in particular, and 30s as well,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health on Thursday.

This time last month, Western University was really driving the majority of cases in the area. I’d say they’re down to, you know, 10 to 20 per cent of cases — that’s ballpark, it’s not an exact figure. But [Western] is much less of a factor right now.”

Read more: New restrictions issued for gyms, restaurants, salons in London and Middlesex County

In a bid to curb further spread of the virus in the community, the health unit on Wednesday unveiled three new pandemic Section 22 orders covering food and drink establishments, indoor fitness and sports facilities, and personal care businesses.

The orders, the details of which can be read about here, will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

Several restrictions outlined in the orders are already in place as part of the province’s Stage 3 regulation. However, issuing them as Section 22 orders gives local health officials more teeth when it comes to enforcement.

“Failure to comply with these Orders can result in fines of up to $5,000.00 for each day the offence occurs or continues. Businesses that fail to comply can be fined up to $25,000 for each day on which the offence occurs,” the health unit said in a statement.

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Indoor dining, the health unit says, has been tied to transmission of the virus in London-Middlesex and elsewhere, while fitness facilities and personal care businesses have been linked to outbreaks in the province. Details regarding which local eateries have been linked to COVID-19 transmission were not immediately available from the health unit.

On Thursday, Mackie noted that the language in the orders may be tweaked before coming into effect. The health unit saw some pushback, specifically when it came to arenas.

“We’ve been having a number of conversations with leaders in sporting organizations across London and Middlesex, and we’ll continue to do so up to Friday,” he said.

“Late Friday afternoon we’ll make a final determination about any adjustments that we’ll be making to the orders before they come into place.”

The Section 22 Order around indoor fitness facilities had capped the number of people allowed in a class, organized activity, or organized program at 10 people, including staff, down from the 50 outlined in the provincial regulation.

On Wednesday, Mackie had stated that for hockey arenas, two groups of 10 would be able to use a single arena at the same time. But since hockey teams typically have more than 10 players and coaching staff rinkside, the restriction would still present some challenges.

A petition calling for minor hockey in the region to be allowed to continue without additional restrictions yielded more than 5,000 signatures by Thursday afternoon.

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Mackie noted that, based on some of the comments the health unit had received after unveiling the orders, it appeared many people were unaware that a number of the restrictions had already been in place under the province’s Stage 3 regulation.

“There’s a whole section of that regulation that limits activities within sports facilities and fitness facilities, and that section includes, for example: games cannot be played unless they can be played without any contact between players; individual sports cannot be competed in or trained in unless you’re able to keep two metres apart from other individuals,” he said Thursday.

What’s clear from many of the comments and questions we’ve had related to the local orders is that some people were unaware of, or potentially not complying with, those components of the provincial Stage 3 order or regulation around fitness facilities.”

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An outbreak declared earlier this month at a local seniors’ facility has been deemed over, the health unit says.

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The outbreak at Peoplecare Oak Crossing was reported Oct. 7 in its Norway Spruce area. It’s not clear how many cases were tied to the outbreak as the health unit does not release that information.

According to the health unit, at least 43 institutional outbreaks have been declared since the pandemic began in March, with 37 occurring at seniors’ facilities. At least 15 of them have been declared just since mid-September.

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The outbreaks are linked to a combined 38 deaths, as well as 218 cases involving 110 residents and 108 staff members. It’s not clear how many cases and deaths are tied to each outbreak.

Eight active institutional outbreaks remain in the region as of Thursday:

  • Oakcrossing Retirement Living (first, third and fourth floors)
  • Westmount Gardens (Lily)
  • Chartwell London (entire long-term care facility)
  • Chelsey Park Long-Term Care (fourth floor)
  • Henley Place LTC Residence (Harris)
  • Craigwiel Gardens (long-term care home only, not apartments)
  • McGarrell Place (Ivey Lane, Harris House, Windermere Way)
  • Extendicare (facility)

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The number of school-linked coronavirus cases in London and Middlesex has risen by one after health unit and school board officials confirmed a positive case late Wednesday involving Lambeth Public School.

It’s unclear if the case involves a staff member or student, as neither MLHU nor the Thames Valley District School Board will say. The province will make such information available on its online database, likely on Friday.

At least 10 cases have been reported involving schools in London-Middlesex since Sept. 21, the day the region’s first was reported at H.B. Beal Secondary School involving a student.

Since then, cases have also been reported on Oct. 17 at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School involving a student, and on Oct. 13 at Northdale Central Public School in Dorchester, also involving a student. Both cases remained active as of Thursday.

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Elsewhere, Strathroy’s Mary Wright Public School saw a student case reported on Oct. 12, while London’s Sir Arthur Currie Public School reported two cases, one on Oct. 9 involving a staff member and one on Oct. 12 involving a student. The second case prompted an outbreak declaration, which also remains active.

Cases, all since resolved, were also reported at École élémentaire La Pommeraie on Oct. 5 and Oct. 8, both involving staff members, and at Saunders Secondary School on Oct. 7 involving a student.

When it comes to post-secondary institutions, the health unit says an outbreak declared Oct. 11 at a Western University residence remains active.

The outbreak was declared at London Hall after four students tested positive. One additional case has since been reported.

At least 75 students at the school have tested positive for the virus since the start of September. The number of cases is likely higher.

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Londoners can still get tested at the city’s two assessment centres, however, officials operating the centres say that beginning Thursday, the phone-based system at Oakridge Arena will stop taking calls once the next day’s appointments have filled up.

Oakridge Arena has been using a phone-based appointment system since last month, and last Thursday, implemented an additional online appointment booking system.

Carling Heights is set to see a similar system introduced in the future, but is still operating with time cards for now.

Both facilities, which are only testing those who fall within the province’s testing guidelines, have seen dips in client visits over the last two weeks compared to the record levels reported at the start of the month.

They have seen a combined average of 269 client visits per day over the last 14 days.

Certain asymptomatic individuals can also get tested at three Shoppers Drug Mart locations in London.

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The region’s seven-day average for new cases stood at 7.71 on Thursday. Looking back to Oct. 8, the 14-day average is 9.92. The region’s incident rate stands at 211.0 per 100,000 people, while Ontario’s is 448.6

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At least 983 cases have been reported in London, while 31 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc.

Elsewhere, Thames Centre’s case count stands at 21, while Middlesex Centre’s is 20, North Middlesex is at eight, Lucan Biddulph seven and Southwest Middlesex one.

People in their 20s remain the largest group of cases by age, making up 24 per cent of all cases with 263, followed by people in their 30s and 50s with 143 and 141 cases each, respectively.

At least 196 cases involve health-care workers, the health unit says.

It’s not clear how many staff cases have been reported involving London Health Sciences Centre, but at least four staff cases have been reported at St. Joseph’s Health Care London since the start of September, the organization says.

Previously, St. Joseph’s had reported a total of 19 staff cases, meaning there have been at least 24 staff cases since the pandemic began.

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Provincially, Ontario reported 841 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and nine new deaths.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 335 cases are in Toronto, 162 in Peel Region, 106 in York Region and 72 in Ottawa.

The province says it conducted 38,860 tests since the last daily report, with an additional 34,784 tests being processed.

Read more: Ontario reports 841 new coronavirus cases, 9 more deaths

In total, 270 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 74 in intensive care.

Ontario also reported 74 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 49 among students.

Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 501 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.

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Elgin and Oxford

Two people have tested positive while one has recovered, officials with Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) reported on Thursday.

That brings the region’s total case count to 300, of which 278 people have recovered and five have died. The death toll has remained unchanged since early July.

With the update leaves at least 17 known active cases in the region. Four are in Woodstock, three each are in Aylmer, Ingersoll and St. Thomas, and one each are in Blandford-Blenheim, South-West Oxford, Tillsonburg and West Elgin.

Three of those infected are aged 19 or younger, four are in their 20s, two in their 30s, one in their 40s, six in their 50s and one in their 60s.

Health officials say one of those infected is currently hospitalized in intensive care. They’re among 24 people who have needed hospitalization during the pandemic, and one of 12 who has been in an ICU.

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No new cases were reported involving schools. Two have been reported so far, both since resolved: one at St. Thomas Community Christian School on Sept. 25, and another at Mitchell Hepburn Public School on Sept. 29.

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Neither of the cases reported Thursday are linked to the lone active outbreak in the region, located at Chartwell Aylmer. The outbreak, declared Oct. 17, came after one staff member tested positive.

Six outbreaks have been declared during the pandemic. None are tied to any deaths. Only one, the region’s first in late March, involved a resident.

By location, Aylmer has still seen the largest number of cases during the pandemic with 85, followed by St. Thomas with 49, Bayham with 38, Woodstock with 35, Tillsonburg with 29 and Dutton/Dunwich, Ingersoll and Norwich with 10 apiece.

The region’s test positivity rate was 0.5 per cent as of the week of Oct. 11, the most recent figures available. That week saw 2,600 people tested for the virus.

Huron and Perth

The region’s total case tally stood at 141 as of Wednesday, with 136 recoveries and five deaths. The region’s death toll has remained unchanged since late April.

There were no active cases in the region, according to the health unit.

An update is expected Thursday afternoon.

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By location, at least 49 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 19 in North Perth and 16 in Perth East.

In Huron County, at least 48 cases have been reported, with 14 in Central Huron, 13 in Bluewater and 10 in South Huron.

Elsewhere, Stratford has seen 38 cases and four deaths connected to one outbreak early in the pandemic, while St. Marys has reported six cases and one death. The death was the first to be reported in the entire region.

No new cases were reported Wednesday involving local schools. Last week, the health unit determined there had been a probable case of the virus involving a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School in Stratford.

Meantime, a total of nine institutional outbreaks have been reported, linked to 24 cases and four deaths. There are currently no active outbreaks.

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At least 32 cases in the region have involved people in their 20s, while 25 have been people in their 50s and 22 in their 60s.

The total number of hospitalizations has not changed since late April. A total of five people have needed to be hospitalized.

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Some 42,983 tests had been conducted by the health unit as of Oct. 10, the most recent figures available. The week of Oct. 4 to 10 saw 2,614 people tested.

Sarnia and Lambton

No new cases, deaths or recoveries were reported late Wednesday night by officials with Lambton Public Health (LPH).

The region has recorded a total of 365 cases during the pandemic, 331 of which have recovered and 25 have died. The death toll has not risen since early June.

Nine cases remain active in the region, according to the health unit.

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A total of three cases have been reported that have been linked to schools in Lambton County. Two, both in Sarnia and both involving students, have been reported at Bright’s Grove Public School and Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School.

A case has also been reported at Colonel Cameron Public School in Corunna involving a student. The case is now resolved as it was removed from the province’s school case database on Wednesday.

The county’s two only active outbreaks remain in place. Both were declared on Oct. 15, one at an unspecified workplace where three people tested positive, and another at Twin Lakes Terrace, a long-term care home in Sarnia, where two staff members tested positive.

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Twelve outbreaks have been declared during the pandemic, including nine at seniors’ facilities, two at workplaces and one at Bluewater Health hospital. They’re linked to 114 cases and 16 deaths. A vast majority of cases, and all 16 deaths, occurred at just two long-term care homes in Sarnia.

According to the health unit’s recently unveiled COVID-19 map, which breaks down the county into three urban and two rural areas, Central Sarnia and Point Edward have reported the largest number of cases with 98, followed by South Sarnia with 94.

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At least 58 people have been hospitalized for the virus, most recently this month. The patient was discharged on Tuesday from Bluewater Health hospital.

LPH officials say nearly 44,600 people had been tested in the county as of Oct. 17.

— With files from The Canadian Press