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Coronavirus: Record 47 new cases reported in London-Middlesex, health unit says

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For the second time in the last seven days, the London-Middlesex region set a new single-day COVID-19 case record on Wednesday after local health officials reported 47 new infections from the day before.

In addition, a new outbreak has been declared at University Hospital, officials with London Health Sciences Centre reported.

Wednesday’s update brings the region’s total case tally to 1,927, of which 1,546 people have recovered — 48 more than the day before.

Seventy-six deaths have been reported, most recently on Saturday involving a man in his 60s whose death was linked to University Hospital.

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There are 305 known active cases in the region, a decrease of two from the record number of active cases set a day prior.

Wednesday’s case jump surpasses the previous single-day case record of 46 set on Dec. 2. It’s also the sixth time this month that the region has recorded more than 30 new cases in a single day, and the fourth time that more than 40 cases have been reported.

The region reported 16 cases on Tuesday, 45 cases on Monday, 39 on Sunday and 24 on Saturday.

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Of the 47 new cases reported on Wednesday, all are from London, health unit figures show.

Those infected span every age bracket monitored by the health unit, however, people under 30 make up nearly half of the reported cases.

Eleven are aged 19 or younger, 11 are in their 20s, five are in their 30s, four are in the 40s, six each are in their 50s and 60s, one is in their 70s and three are 80 or older.

Health unit data shows at least 20 have their exposure source listed as an outbreak, while 19 are believed to have contracted the virus through close contact with another case. Four have no known link, while another four have their source listed as pending or undetermined.

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It’s unclear how many cases may be linked to outbreaks at University Hospital. Cases linked with an outbreak can also be the result of outbreaks in schools, workplaces and in other locations.

As of Wednesday, the region’s seven-day average for new cases stands at 33.71, while the 14-day average stands at 29.64.

The region has reported at least 279 cases since Dec. 1, more than were reported in each of the months of March, May, June, July, August, September and October — or the months of June, July and August combined.

As of this week, the region is in the orange-restrict level of the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework. Details can be found in the framework document.

Read more: Rinks turn away skaters who visit London, Ont. from COVID-19 lockdown spots

Local city and health officials are urging residents to follow pandemic guidelines as the region moves into the cold, winter months.

“If you have any plans to visit with people outside of your household over the holidays, consider a voluntary self-quarantine for the two weeks prior,” Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said Monday.

“Minimize any interactions with anyone to reduce the risk that you’re picking up COVID and bringing home something to a loved one. That is not the kind of gift you want to be giving at the holiday season.”

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According to the health unit, 1,795 cases have been reported in London since the pandemic began, while 40 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 37 in Middlesex Centre and 33 in Thames Centre.

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

The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 2.1 per cent as of the week of Nov. 28.

Hospitalizations

The number of COVID-19 inpatients currently in the care of London Health Sciences Centre remains the same as the day before at 57, the organization said.

It remains the highest number of concurrent COVID-19 patients the organization has seen at any one time during the pandemic.

In addition, the number of people in critical or intensive care has declined by one to six from Tuesday.

It’s not clear how many COVID-19 inpatients are being admitted to LHSC per day as such data is not readily available.

Active staff cases at LHSC number 54 as of Wednesday, an increase of two from the day before. Most are likely linked to outbreaks at University Hospital.

Read more: COVID-19 disproportionately impacting London-Middlesex visible minority population, health unit says

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St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meanwhile, reported no active COVID-19 patients in its care as of Sunday, its most recent update. There was one active case among its staff.

According to the MLHU, at least 208 people have been admitted to the hospital due to the coronavirus during the pandemic, a tally six higher than the day before, including at least 43 who have needed intensive care.

It’s not clear, however, if the increase in the MLHU tally is due to new hospitalizations, or past hospitalizations that are only now being added into the dataset after case followup.

Institutional outbreaks

The number of outbreaks at University Hospital has risen after a new outbreak was declared there Wednesday.

The outbreak is among three that were reported by the health unit Wednesday. The other two were located at two seniors’ facilities in the region, including Country Terrace in the facility’s Westwood area, and at McCormick Home in its Evergreen Walk area.

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According to London Health Sciences Centre, the latest outbreak to hit University Hospital involves its 8IP General Surgery unit. It’s not clear how many people may be infected as a result.

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LHSC says the new outbreak is separate from an outbreak declared Dec. 5 in 5IP Cardiology and the sixth floor cardiology offices, and is also separate from a severe outbreak that began in 4IP General Medicine on Nov. 10 and later spread to five other units.

“All additional outbreak measures have been in place on the General Surgery unit since November 28 and these cases associated with the outbreak are linked to that timeframe,” LHSC said in a statement, referencing the increased measures the hospital implemented in the wake of the Nov. 10 outbreak.

“Unit-level outbreaks for COVID-19 are declared, in partnership with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, as soon as there are two or more confirmed positive cases among patients or staff that could have possibly been acquired on an inpatient unit.”

Overall, LHSC says at least 139 cases and 14 deaths have been attributed to the hospital outbreaks overall. The organization is refusing to specify how many are attributed to each individual outbreak, citing patient privacy.

As of last Friday, more than 110 cases and 12 deaths alone had been linked to the Nov. 10 outbreak.

The six units hit by that outbreak include 4IP General Medicine, where it originated, along with 4TU Multi-Organ Transplant Unit, 6IP Acute/Decant Medicine, 6IP Cardiovascular Surgery, 9IP Sub-Acute Medicine and 10IP Palliative Care/Sub-Acute Medicine.

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It remains remains the largest outbreak to be reported in London and Middlesex during the pandemic by a large margin.

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Non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries remain postponed at the hospital, while ambulatory or outpatient activity remains reduced to only urgent matters.

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COVID-19 testing of staff and patients has been ongoing at the hospital, with staff and patients in outbreak units being tested every three to four days, LHSC officials say.

In the case of the Nov. 10 outbreak, the health unit has stated its investigation found breaches when it came to the implementation of personal protective equipment (PPE) among staff and physical distancing protocols.

Hundreds of staff members from several wards are currently in work quarantine, meaning they can have no social contact outside of work, according to the health unit.

University Hospital also saw a separate, since-resolved outbreak in 9IP Orthopedics that was declared on Nov. 11, linked to six cases.

Since March, the region has seen at least 58 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including at least 42 at local seniors’ facilities.

Schools

The number of active school cases in London and Middlesex stands at 26 after a slew of school cases were reported by local school boards late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

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Several cases were located at schools that already had active cases, resulting in the health unit declaring outbreaks at four local schools.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks declared at 4 London, Ont. schools

As of late Tuesday, the health unit says outbreaks have been declared at Ashley Oaks Public School, where four cases are currently active; Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, where two cases are active; Sir Arthur Currie Public School, where four cases are active; and Westminster Secondary School, where five cases are active.

“The Health Unit has concluded that the additional cases are likely linked to previous COVID-19 cases reported at each of the schools,” the health unit said in a statement, adding that the outbreak declarations don’t mean the schools are closing. All four schools will remain open, the health unit says.

“Only those staff and students in classrooms identified as having had close contact with the cases will be excluded from attending school,” the statement read.

“The declaration of a COVID-19 outbreak at these facilities is an indication that Health Unit case investigators have observed a higher rate of infection than would otherwise be expected, combined with evidence that transmission is occurring within the schools.”

Cases are active at the following schools:

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  • Five cases are active at Westminster Secondary School. An outbreak has been declared.
  • Four cases are active at Ashley Oaks Public School. An outbreak has been declared.
  • Four cases are active at Sir Arthur Public School. An outbreak has been declared.
  • Two cases are active at London Christian High, a private religious school.
  • Two cases are active at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School. An outbreak has been declared.
  • One case is active at C.C. Carrothers Public School.
  • One case is active at London Central Secondary School.
  • One case is active at Rick Hansen Public School.
  • One case is active at Ryerson Public School.
  • One case is active at St. John French Immersion Catholic Elementary School.
  • One case is active at St Marguerite d’Youville School. An outbreak declaration remains active at the school from Nov. 30.
  • One case is active at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School.
  • One case is active at Stoney Creek Public School.
  • One case is active at Westmount Public School.

The region has seen at least 73 school cases reported since the beginning of September. Twenty-six have been reported just this month.

Meantime, at Western University, two outbreaks remain active at Perth Hall and Saugeen Maitland-Hall student residences. Late last week, health officials said they expected the outbreaks to be declared over in the near future.

Recent resolved school cases by date they were reported:

  • 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.
  • Nov. 28 at John Paul II Catholic Secondary School involving one student.
  • Nov. 28 at St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Elementary School involving one student.

Testing

At least 10,010 people were tested for the coronavirus during the week of Nov. 29, according to the most recent testing figures issued by the health unit.

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The tally was a notable increase from the 8,408 reported the week prior.

The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 2.1 per cent as of the week of Nov. 28, up from 1.7 per cent the week before.

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The city’s two dedicated assessment centres, Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, continue to operate normally, both by appointment only.

Carling Heights has seen a recent uptick in visits, recording an average of 428 visits over five days from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, up from 381 between Nov. 23 and 27.

At Oakridge Arena, numbers have been largely stable. The centre recorded a five-day average of 319 visits from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 compared to 318 between Nov. 23 and 27.

Appointment testing for certain asymptomatic people is also continuing at eight local pharmacies.

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Ontario

Ontario is reporting 1,890 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 28 new deaths due to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 517 cases are in Toronto, 471 in Peel Region and 187 in York Region.

In the province’s long-term care homes, 618 residents currently have COVID-19 and 11 new deaths have been reported Tuesday.

The province says 115 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.

It also reported 207 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 174 among students.

Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 866 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,890 new coronavirus cases, 28 more deaths

Meanwhile, hospitals in Ontario’s York Region said they have reached a “tipping point” in COVID-19 admissions.

A joint statement from the CEOs of Mackenzie Health, Markham Stouffville Hospital and Southlake Regional Health Centre highlighted a “significant increase” in admissions due to the novel coronavirus in recent weeks.

The group said they were concerned that the trend could impact access to other health care, like scheduled surgeries, and called on residents to wear masks in public and forgo gathering over the holidays in order to protect the community.

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York Region is currently in the red level of the province’s pandemic response framework — the strictest public health measures short of a lockdown.

— With files from The Canadian Press

Elgin and Oxford

Twelve people have tested positive for the coronavirus, while another 14 cases have been listed as resolved, Southwestern Public Health said Wednesday.

The region’s total case tally stands at 660, of which 564 people have recovered. Eight deaths have been reported during the pandemic, the most recent of which was on Friday involving a man in his 80s.

The health unit says 88 cases are known to be active in Elgin and Oxford counties as of Wednesday, with at least 21 of those in St. Thomas, 16 in Aylmer and 13 in Woodstock.

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The region has recorded at least 97 cases since Dec. 1 and is currently in the orange-restrict tier of the province’s framework.

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The number of school cases in the region has risen by two after both the London district Catholic and Thames Valley district school boards reported new cases.

The TVDSB reported an additional case at Parkside Collegiate Institute in St. Thomas late Tuesday. One case had been reported at the school the day before.

Meanwhile, the LDCSB reported a new case at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Woodstock early Wednesday afternoon.

It’s not clear whether the cases involve staff members or students.

Confirmed cases are active at the following schools:

  • Two cases at East Elgin Secondary School in Aylmer involving one student and one staff member.
  • Two cases at Elgin Court Public School in St. Thomas.
  • Two cases at Parkside Collegiate Institute in St. Thomas.
  • One student case at Glendale High School in Tillsonburg involving a student.
  • One case at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in St. Thomas.
  • One case at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Woodstock.

The region has seen at least 24 school cases reported since the start of September.

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One institutional outbreak is active in the region, according to the health unit.

The outbreak, declared on Saturday, is located at Terrace Lodge and is linked to one staff case.

One since-resolved outbreak was declared on July 31 after one staff member tested positive.

At least 11 institutional outbreaks have been declared at nine facilities, linked to at least 21 cases.

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One outbreak-related death has been reported, linked to an outbreak on Nov. 12 at Bethany Care Home in Norwich, which saw three resident cases and one staff case.

By location, Woodstock remains the municipality that has seen the largest number of cases overall at 137, while Aylmer has seen 136, recording an incidence rate of 1,828 cases per 100,000 people.

Elsewhere, Bayham has seen 85 cases, St. Thomas 84, Tillsonburg 50, Norwich Township 47, Ingersoll 34, Blandford-Blenheim 17, East Zorra-Tavistock 14, Zorra 13, Dutton/Dunwich and South-West Oxford 11 apiece, and Central Elgin 10.

Three other municipalities have recorded case totals under 10.

As of the week of Nov. 29, the most recent figures available, the region had a test per cent positivity rate of 1.8 per cent, up from 1.3 the week before. About 4,822 people were tested that week.

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Huron and Perth

One new coronavirus case has been reported, while six people have recovered, Huron Perth Public Health reported on Wednesday.

The region’s total case tally stands at 411, of which 343 people have recovered. Nineteen deaths have been reported, most recently on Monday that was not linked to an outbreak.

The new case was reported in North Perth, according to the health unit.

Wednesday’s increase is a significant drop from the 18 cases reported on Tuesday and the one death, 16 cases and 13 recoveries reported on Monday.

Huron and Perth remains in the orange-restrict tier of the province’s restrictions framework.

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No change was reported in regards to school cases as of early Wednesday afternoon.

Two school outbreaks are currently active, located at St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School, where the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board says at least six cases are active.

Elsewhere, an outbreak remains active at Northside Christian School, a small private religious school in Listowel, where one staff case has been reported.

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At least 10 school cases remain active in the region:

  • Six cases at St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School involving four students and one staff member. One case is TBD. An outbreak declaration remains active at the school as of Wednesday.
  • One case at Central Huron Secondary School.
  • One case at F. E. Madill Secondary School in Wingham.
  • One student case at Listowel District Secondary School.
  • One case at Northside Christian School involving a staff member. An outbreak declaration remained active as of Wednesday.

One case also remains active involving a staff member of the Avon-Maitland District School Board.

Including that case, at least 21 school cases have been reported since Sept. 1.

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An outbreak at Cedarcroft Place remains active as of Wednesday. No new cases were reported in the outbreak, which was declared on Oct. 27, linked to 50 resident cases and 24 staff cases. At least 11 residents have since died.

Elsewhere, an outbreak at Seaforth Manor in Huron East is also active, linked to one staff case.

In Stratford, an outbreak also remains active at Stratford General Hospital, linked to seven staff cases, according to the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA).

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The outbreak was declared on Dec. 3 in the hospital’s medicine unit.

The HPHA reported Monday that no patients had acquired the virus while in hospital, and that impacted staff were self-isolating at home.

The hospital has restricted family and caregiver presence in the unit, except for palliative patients. The hospital remains open, HPHA says.

“Since receiving transfers from the Cedarcroft Retirement Home in mid-November the Medicine Unit has implemented enhanced cleaning and infection control procedures,” the HPHA said in a statement.

“As a result of the outbreak, the Unit has enacted restricted admission and discharge protocols.”

Including the hospital outbreak, a total of 17 institutional outbreaks have been declared at 14 facilities in Huron and Perth during the pandemic, linked to 112 cases and 15 deaths, including the 11 at Cedarcroft and four at Greenwood Court in the spring.

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At least 168 cases have been in Perth County, while 157 cases and at least 15 deaths have been in Stratford.

Elsewhere, 78 cases have been in Huron County, while eight cases and at least one death have been in St. Marys.

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Locations for the region’s three other reported deaths were not immediately available.

As of the week of Nov. 29, the most recent figures available, the region’s test per cent positivity rate was 1.6 per cent. At least 3,410 people got tested that week.

A total of at least 64,369 people in Huron-Perth have been tested during the pandemic.

Sarnia and Lambton

No new cases, deaths or recoveries were reported on Wednesday by Lambton Public Health.

The region’s total case tally remains unchanged at 434, of which 384 people have recovered and 25 have died. The last reported death was in early June.

Twenty-five cases remain active in the region. No COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized at Bluewater Health, the hospital reported.

The region has reported 22 cases since Dec. 1, about as many as were reported in the first 18 days of November and more than were reported in all of October.

The region remains in the yellow-protect tier of the province’s restrictions framework.

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The number of active school cases in the region stands at three after one case was reported Tuesday afternoon at St. Patrick’s Catholic High School in Sarnia.

It’s unclear if the case involves a staff member or student. It’s the fourth case to be reported at the school since Sept. 1 after three since-resolved cases were reported there in November.

Elsewhere, the region’s other two active cases are located at Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School, also in Sarnia. Both cases involve students.

At least 11 school cases have been reported in the county.

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One outbreak remains active in the region, located at an unnamed workplace in an unspecified location. It is linked to at least two cases and was declared on Dec. 3.

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A total of 14 have been declared since March — 10 at seniors’ facilities, three at workplaces and one at Bluewater Health — linked to 117 cases and 16 deaths. A vast majority of cases, and all 16 deaths, are linked to outbreaks earlier in the pandemic at Landmark Village and Vision Nursing Home.

As of the week of Nov. 29, the most recent figures released by the health unit, the region had a weekly test per cent positivity rate of 0.64 per cent. About 2,624 people were tested that week.

At least 61,004 people have been tested in total in the county.

Close contact is listed as the source for 42 per cent of cases, followed by outbreaks for 30 per cent and an unknown source for 26 per cent.

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