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Coronavirus: 1 death, 24 new cases in London; 13 cases in Southwestern Public Health

In this illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. A self-reported case of COVID-19 may be the region's first reported case of the virus and the Haida Nation has stepped up measures to slow the spread of the illness. THE CANADIAN PRESS/CDC via AP, File. THE CANADIAN PRESS/CDC via AP, File

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One new death has been confirmed and 24 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported Saturday.

It marks the sixth day in a row that the region has recorded at least one COVID-19-related death. It’s also the second day this week that fewer than 30 cases have been reported.

The news comes as the province announced that London and Middlesex will be among the regions shifting to the orange-restrict level of its colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework effective Monday.

The region has been in the less-restrictive yellow-protect level since Nov. 16, but a recent surge in cases, driven in part by a large and deadly outbreak at University Hospital, has led to London-Middlesex pushing past the orange-restrict threshold.

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The region’s total case tally now stands at 1,782, of which 1,447 people have recovered — 16 more than the day before — and 76 have died.

According to the health unit, the death reported Saturday was a man in his 60s.

The MLHU has confirmed that the death is associated with the outbreak at University Hospital. One death was reported Friday, two deaths reported Thursday, three of four deaths reported Wednesday and two deaths reported Tuesday were linked to the outbreak.

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Of the 24 cases reported Saturday, 22 were in London while one was in Middlesex Centre. The other case location is unknown.

It’s not clear how many cases may be tied directly to the University Hospital outbreak. Health officials have stressed that due to the fluid nature of the outbreak, and lags in case follow-up and reporting, they’re unable to accurately report a complete and thorough daily breakdown of UH-related cases as some reported cases may not be confirmed as UH-related until days later.

Elsewhere, the health unit has declared an outbreak at The Shish Shawarma and Grill after six staff members tested positive.

Read more: Coronavirus: London, Ont., region to move to orange-restrict level Dec. 7

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At least 180 cases have been added to the health unit’s dashboard since Monday, more than were reported during each of the months of May, June, July, August and September.

The region’s seven-day average for new cases stands at 30.57 as of Friday, up slightly from 29.85 the day before. The 14-day average stands at 22.85, slightly down from the 23.21 on Thursday.

Coupled with the growing number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients reported at London Health Sciences Centre over the last week, the region has met multiple indicators as outlined by the province for the orange-restrict level.

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The change is set to take effect on Monday.

Limits on indoor and outdoor public events and social gatherings will remain unchanged from the yellow-protect level, the framework shows.

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A move to orange-restrict will largely mean increased restrictions for restaurants, bars, sports and recreational fitness facilities, meeting and event spaces, retail and other businesses.

For example, under orange-restrict, food and drink establishments can seat a maximum of 50 people indoors, with a limit of four seated together, down from six.

In addition, they must close at 10 p.m. (compared to midnight under yellow-protect) and can only serve alcohol between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. (compared to 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.).

Further details on what restrictions a move to orange-restrict brings can be found in the framework document.

Read more: What will Ontario’s long-term care system look like post-pandemic?

According to the health unit, 1,656 cases have been reported in London since the pandemic began, while 38 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 36 in Middlesex Centre and 31 in Thames Centre.

Lucan Biddulph has seen 10, North Middlesex eight, Southwest Middlesex two and Newbury one.

Hospitalizations

London Health Sciences Centre reported Saturday that 49 patients with COVID-19 were in its care.

In addition, six patients were in critical care/intensive care, the organization said.

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Meanwhile, current infections among staff remain unchanged from the day before at 45, according to LHSC. A large percentage are connected to the outbreak at University Hospital.

This is currently the largest amount of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of LHSC at any given time during the pandemic.

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As was the case on Thursday, St. Joseph’s Health Care London reported that no COVID-19 patients were in its care as of Friday.

The organization said three staff cases had been reported since Nov. 4.

According to the health unit, at least 193 people have been admitted to the hospital due to the coronavirus during the pandemic, including 41 who have needed intensive care.

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Institutional outbreaks

A large and deadly outbreak at University Hospital remains active, with at least 13 deaths and more than 110 cases tied to it.

LHSC reported Saturday that the outbreak’s total case tally numbered 113, with 64 involving patients and 49 staff. Why a discrepancy exists is not clear. That is one more staff case than the day before.

The health unit has also determined the outbreak has been tied to “dozens of cases” in the broader community.

Read more: 12 deaths linked to University Hospital COVID-19 outbreak, officials dispel staff ‘potluck’ rumour

The outbreak first originated in 4IP General Medicine on Nov. 10 and has grown to encompass a total of six units at the hospital. It’s the largest outbreak to be reported in the region, by far.

Since March, the region has seen at least 54 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including at least 40 at local seniors’ facilities.

Among the units impacted at the hospital are 4TU Multi-Organ Transplant Unit and 6IP Cardiovascular Surgery, which were declared Nov. 27, and 6IP Acute/Decant Medicine, 9IP Sub-Acute Medicine and 10IP Palliative Care/Sub-Acute Medicine, which were all declared on Nov. 24.

The hospital was also the scene of a separate, smaller outbreak in 9IP Orthopedics that was declared Nov. 11. That outbreak, linked to six cases, is no longer active.

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To combat the spread of the virus, LHSC has enacted several significant measures, including postponing all non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries at the hospital, and reducing ambulatory or outpatient activity to only urgent and emergent appointments, procedures and diagnostic services.

In addition, both University and Victoria hospitals are now testing all patients admitted for COVID-19, and are limiting the movement of staff and physicians between units and hospitals.

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Speaking Thursday during a media briefing, the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Chris Mackie, said the health unit’s investigation had found breaches among staff when it came to the implementation of personal protective equipment (PPE) and physical distancing protocols.

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“Most staff were certainly respecting the rules, but we did have some situations where staff were not, in terms of masking and physical distancing,” he said.

“There were some things where, as we walked through (UH), we did find places where some space adjustments could help to encourage the sort of distancing that we need — charting rooms or teaching rooms or other spaces that had a lot of chairs in them, which would suggest that it’s safe for that number of people to gather.”

As part of its measures announced last week, LHSC said it would open additional break rooms to ensure social distancing among staff.

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Mackie said LHSC had implemented strong compliance assessment and auditing functions to make sure that measures were being followed.

Speaking to the media on Friday, LHSC CEO Dr. Paul Woods said an internal investigation had found no evidence that rumoured potlucks had been held at the hospital by staff.

“We have thoroughly investigated this claim, and there was no potluck contributed to the outbreaks at University Hospital,” he said. “That being said, we agree with the health unit findings that there were breaches in PPE use during breaks and physical distancing was not always maintained.

I want to emphasize that I’m not assigning blame. Our staff and physicians have been vigilant and dedicated in their provision of safe patient care since day one of this pandemic. But we are human, we are fallible and we are tired. While regrettable, I can say with certainty there was never a breach intended to cause harm.”

LHSC, he said, continues to work with the health unit to implement the measures announced last week to curb further transmission of the virus.

During the same briefing, Dr. Michael Payne, LHSC’s medical director of infection prevention and control, said the organization had identified many potential contributors to the spread of the outbreak, but noted that outbreaks are multifactorial in nature when it came to pinpointing a specific source.

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“Every outbreak has multiple causes, and this one is no different,” he said.

Schools

The number of school cases in London and Middlesex grew by six Friday after the Thames Valley District School Board reported three cases at Sir Arthur Currie Public School, two cases at Ashley Oaks Public School and one at Ryerson Public School.

The school board also reported two new cases on Thursday, located at London Central Secondary School and Westminster Secondary School.

It’s unclear whether the aforementioned cases involve staff or students. The four schools remain open and buses are continuing to operate.

The cases are among at least 12 active school cases in the region. Elsewhere:

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  • One student case is active at John Paul II Catholic Secondary School.
  • Two student cases are active at St. Marguerite d’Youville School. A class outbreak has since been declared by the health unit.
  • One student case is active at Stoney Creek Public School involving one student.

Since the start of the school year, the London and Middlesex region has recorded at least 57 school-linked cases.

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Elsewhere, two student residence outbreaks at Perth Hall and Saugeen-Maitland Hall at Western University remain active as of Friday. Health officials say they expect the outbreaks to be declared over soon.

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Recent resolved school cases by date they were reported on:

  • Nov. 13 at Académie de la Tamise involving one staff member.
  • Nov. 14 at Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School involving one student.
  • Nov. 19 at Saunders Secondary School involving one student.
  • Nov. 20 at Providence Reformed Collegiate.
  • Nov. 20 at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School involving one student.
  • Nov. 21 and 22 at Catholic Central High School involving two students.
  • Nov. 23 at Lord Dorchester Secondary School involving one student.

Testing

At least 8,055 people were tested for the coronavirus during the week of Nov. 22, according to new testing figures issued by the health unit.

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The tally was slightly higher than the 7,624 reported the week prior.

The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 1.6 per cent as of the week of Nov. 22, up from 1.3 per cent the week before.

Both of the city’s assessment centres, Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, are continuing to operate by appointment only. Appointment testing for certain asymptomatic people is also continuing at eight local pharmacies.

Carling Heights reported a five-day average of 381 visits from Nov. 23 to 27, compared to 318 at Oakridge Arena.

Ontario

Ontario reported 1,859 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 125,385.

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It marks the largest single-day increase in cases to date, ahead of 1,855 on Nov. 27.

“Locally, there are 504 new cases in Toronto, 463 in Peel and 198 in York Region,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

“There are 1,624 more resolved cases.”

A total of 106,416 cases are considered resolved, which is 84.9 per cent of all confirmed cases.

Twenty new deaths were also reported on Saturday bringing the provincial death toll to 3,757.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,859 new coronavirus cases setting single-day record

There are 709 people hospitalized with the virus (up by 35), with 202 in intensive care (down by five) and 116 on ventilators (no change).

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Elgin and Oxford

Thirteen people have died and six others have tested positive for the coronavirus, Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) reported on Saturday.

This brings the region’s total case tally to 614, of which 527 people have recovered.

Four cases were reported in St Thomas, three in Woodstock, two in Norwich, and one each in Aylmer and Bayham.

Eight deaths have been reported in the region since the pandemic began, including two just this week. Friday’s death involved a man in his 80s, according to the health unit.

Previously, the health unit reported a death on Wednesday involving a man in his 40s, who was later identified by media reports as 44-year-old Martin Haalstra of Belmont, Ont.

No people were hospitalized as of Thursday, the health unit said. At least 29 have been admitted to hospital due to the virus since the pandemic began, including 14 who have needed intensive care.

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Although the region will remain in the orange-restrict tier of the province’s framework into next week, Dr. Joyce Lock, its medical officer of health, says the numbers seen Friday are “predictive of a move to the red tier.”

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Such a move, she says, will have a significant impact on local businesses with the introduction of new, tighter restrictions.

“These numbers — some of the highest of the year for us — are also predictive of an increase in serious illness, hospitalizations, ICU stays, and death,” she said in a statement.

“The good news is that each of you have what it takes to bring these numbers down, to decrease the amount of virus circulating in our community, and to lower the risk to the community we love.”

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The number of school cases has risen by one after the Thames Valley District School board reported a case at Glendale High School in Tillsonburg Friday afternoon.

Few details are known, including whether the case involves a staff member or student. The school remains open and buses continue to operate.

Elsewhere, a case reported Nov. 23 at Laurie Hawkins Public School involving one staff member has since resolved, the school board said.

At least six cases are active at schools in the region.

In addition to the case at Glendale High School, cases are also active at:

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  • Forest Park Public School involving one student.
  • Springbank Public School involving one student.
  • East Elgin Secondary School involving one student and one TBD.

The region has seen at least 17 school cases reported since the start of September.

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There has been no change when it comes to institutional outbreaks in the region.

Only one is currently active, located at Woodingford Lodge in Woodstock. The outbreak, declared on Nov. 24, is tied to one staff case.

It’s among at least 10 institutional outbreaks that have been declared during the pandemic at nine facilities. In total, the outbreaks are linked to at least 20 cases, with all but four involving staff.

Woodstock has seen the largest number of cases overall at 132.

Elsewhere, Aylmer has seen 126 (recording an incidence rate of 1,668.4 cases per 100,000 people), while Bayham has seen 79, St. Thomas 76, Tillsonburg 47, Norwich Township 44, Ingersoll 31, Blandford-Blenheim 14, East Zorra-Tavistock 13, Dutton/Dunwich 11, and South-West Oxford and Zorra 10 apiece.

Four other municipalities have recorded case totals under 10.

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As of the week of Nov. 22, the region had a test per cent positivity rate of 1.3 per cent. About 4,183 people were tested that week.

Huron and Perth

Sixteen people have tested positive for the coronavirus while twenty-two others have recovered, Huron Perth Public Health reported Saturday.

The update brings the region’s total case count to 377, of which 213 people have recovered. Eighteen deaths have also been reported, most recently on Nov. 28 involving a resident of Cedarcroft Place.

Seven of the new cases were reported in Stratford, while five were in Perth County and four were in Huron County.

The region is in the orange-restrict tier of the province’s colour-coded framework where it will remain into next week.

An outbreak was declared in the medicine unit of Stratford General Hospital after two staff members tested positive within the past 14 days.

The news was announced late Thursday by the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA). No patients have acquired the virus while in hospital, HPHA said.

No transmission to other patient care areas of the hospital had been reported, according to Andrew Williams, the group’s chief executive, in a statement to the media.

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The hospital is open for scheduled clinics, procedures, and emergency visits, the group says.

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An outbreak at Spruce Lodge long-term care home in Stratford has been declared over as of Friday. The outbreak declared on Nov. 27 involved one staff member.

Two seniors’ facility outbreaks remain active at Livingstone Manor in North Perth (one staff case) and Stratford’s Cedarcroft Place remains active as of Saturday.

The outbreak declared at Cedarcroft on Oct. 27 has been tied to at least 50 resident cases — of whom 11 have since died — and 24 staff cases.

Three new resident cases and one new staff case were reported on Saturday.

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The number of active cases at St. Mary’s Catholic School in North Perth continues to rise.

The Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board reported a new case at the school late Thursday, the fifth to be seen at the school since Nov. 30.

The cases have led to a school outbreak declaration. Four classes have been closed as a result of the five cases. The school itself remains open.

At least three cases there involve students, while one involves a staff member. Details about the latest case were not immediately available.

At least 17 school cases have been reported in the region since the start of the school year and at least 10 are currently active.

Elsewhere, active cases also remain at:

  • Northside Christian School involving one staff member. An outbreak was declared Nov. 25 at the small private school. It’s not clear when the school will reopen. The outbreak was active as of Friday.
  • Goderich District Collegiate Institute involving one student.
  • St. Ambrose Catholic Elementary School involving two students.

One case is also active involving an employee of the Avon Maitland District School Board, according to officials.

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At least 151 cases have been in Perth County, while 147 cases and at least 15 deaths have been in Stratford.

Elsewhere, 71 cases have been in Huron County, while eight cases and one death have been in St. Marys.

Sarnia and Lambton

Six people have tested positive for the coronavirus and two people have recovered, Lambton Public Health reported on Saturday.

The region’s total case count now stands at 426, of which 379 people have recovered. Twenty-five deaths have also been reported during the pandemic, most recently in early June.

As of Saturday, at least 22 cases are active in the county. The locations of them have not been released by the health unit.

Bluewater Health reported Friday that no COVID-19 patients were in its care, down from one on Thursday. The health unit says at least 61 people have been admitted to the hospital due to the virus.

The region has reported 55 cases since Nov. 1. Saturday was the first day since Oct. 15 that the region reported five or more cases in a single day.

The region is in the yellow-protect tier of the province’s restrictions framework where it will remain into next week.

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The detailed information below is as of Friday because Lambton Public Health has not updated that information as of Saturday morning.

No change has been reported in regards to schools in the county.

Two cases remain active at Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School in Sarnia, both involving students, according to the province.

The cases are the third and fourth to be seen at the school after two student cases were reported in October.

No other school cases are active in Lambton.

At least 10 school cases have been reported in the county, all involving students.

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There has also been no change in regards to institutional outbreaks. A total of 13 have been declared since March — 10 at seniors’ facilities, two at workplaces and one at Bluewater Health — linked to 115 cases and 16 deaths.

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Two outbreaks earlier in the pandemic at Landmark Village and Vision Nursing Home, both in Sarnia, are linked to a vast majority of those cases, and all 16 deaths.

As of the week of Nov. 22, the region had a weekly test per cent positivity rate of 0.49 per cent. About 2,623 people were tested that week. At least 58,284 people have been tested in total.

–With Files from Matthew Trevithick and Ryan Rocca