7 coronavirus deaths reported in London and Middlesex as region’s case tally hits 5,000

People wear face masks as they walk in the Old Port in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. The Quebec government has imposed a lockdown and a curfew to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The curfew begins at 8 p.m until 5 a.m and lasting until February 8. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

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The total coronavirus case tally for the London and Middlesex region has surpassed 5,000 after the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reported 54 new COVID-19 cases Sunday.

MLHU also reported seven deaths and 53 recoveries.

Out of the seven deaths, four were men and three were women. All were in their 70s, 80s or 90s. Six of the seven deaths were linked to long-term care homes.

The deaths mark the 40th to 47th that have been reported so far this month, making January the deadliest month of the pandemic thus far.

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The region’s total COVID-19 case count stands at 5,041 with 3,418 recoveries and 148 deaths.

London and Middlesex has reported at least 1,604 positive infections since the month began, second only to the entire month of December 2020, which recorded a record 1,724.

At least 1,475 cases are currently active in the region.

As of Friday, the region’s seven-day case average stood at 107.0. The average is still well above the 80.28 seen on Dec. 31.

Read more: Coronavirus: new U.K. variant of COVID-19 found in Middlesex-London

The 14-day average, meantime, is 107.21. The 14-day average was 75.78 on Dec. 31.

The region’s seven-day case incidence rate stands at 74.1 per 100,000 as of Friday, down from 83 the day before. Ontario’s sits at 61.2 as of Friday, down from 78.6 on Thursday.

Middlesex Centre has seen the biggest impact when it comes to cases. Despite recording a total of 231 cases during the pandemic, the municipality’s small population means that equates to an overall incidence rate of 1,307 cases per 100,000 people.

London, which has seen nearly 19 times the cases (4,359), has an overall incidence rate of 1,077 per 100,000.

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Elsewhere, Strathroy-Caradoc has reported 176 cases, Thames Centre 87, Lucan Biddulph 31, North Middlesex 29, South Middlesex 27, Adelaide Metcalfe 13 and Newbury two.

At least 86 cases are pending location data.

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As of Friday, the number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre stood at 35, with at least 14 in critical or intensive care.

The number of active LHSC staff cases stood at 19, the organization said.

No COVID-19 patients were in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital as of late Thursday, the most recent update.

St. Joseph’s Health Care London, however, says at least 23 staff members are currently infected, including 16 related to an outbreak at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care — an increase of four staff cases from the day before.

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The health unit says 323 people have been hospitalized during the pandemic, including 63 in intensive care.

Institutional outbreaks

One outbreak was declared at the Real Canadian Superstore located at 1205 Oxford St. West in London on Saturday.

The MLHU said 10 employees have recently tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was reported on Dec. 28, with four additional cases linked to the store on Jan. 15.

On Friday, outbreaks were declared in London at University Hospital, while the other has been declared at Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital.

The University Hospital outbreak is located in the facility’s adult emergency department, according to LHSC. Declared late Friday afternoon, it’s been connected to at least six staff cases, the organization says. No patient cases and no deaths have been reported.

In a statement, LHSC says the hospital’s emergency department remains open, adding it is safe for patients, and that risk of infection for patients remains low.

University Hospital was previously the site of at least 11 unit-level outbreaks between Nov. 10 and Dec. 28 that left a total of 82 patients and 92 staff infected. Twenty-nine deaths were linked to the outbreaks, according to LHSC.

Elsewhere within LHSC, two outbreaks remain active at Victoria Hospital, located in C6-100 – Geriatric Behavioral Unit and B41 Antenatal. Both are linked to fewer than five patient and five staff cases and no deaths.

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Meantime, the outbreak at Strathroy Middlesex General is located in the hospital’s second-floor inpatient unit, officials said.

In a statement, hospital brass said that they were working closely with the Middlesex-London Health Unit in the investigation. The unit, they said, has been closed to new admissions, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of the unit was underway.

It’s not clear how many cases are linked to the outbreak, which is the first to be declared at the hospital during the pandemic.

The health unit says several institutional outbreaks remain in place at the following local seniors’ facilities, declared on:

  • Jan. 16 at Longworth Retirement Residence (facility-wide)
  • Jan. 14 at Kensington Village (first floor of the long-term care home)
  • Jan. 11 at Elmwood Place (facility-wide; linked to one staff case as of Jan. 11)
  • Jan. 10 at Queens Village (Memory Lane area)
  • Jan. 9 at Fox Hollow Retirement Residence (first floor)
  • Jan. 9 at Glendale Crossing (Lambeth, Westminster; linked to two staff cases as of Jan. 15)
  • Jan. 8 at Chelsey Park Retirement Community (fifth floor; linked to one resident, one staff case)
  • Jan. 8 at Strathmere Lodge (Sydenham Meadows)
  • Jan. 5 at Oneida Long-Term Care Home (facility-wide)
  • Jan. 2 at Chelsey Park (long-term care – fifth floor, second floor; according to officials with Chelsey Park, the outbreak has been linked to 37 resident and 30 staff infections. Three residents have died, they said)
  • Dec. 26 at Extendicare (third floor, second floor)
  • Dec. 23 at Middlesex Terrace (facility-wide)
  • Dec. 22 at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care (MV4; outbreaks in SM1, SM2, SM3, and MV5 have resolved. At least 10 residents and 16 staff were actively infected as of Friday, four more staff cases than the day before. At least three people have died)
  • Dec. 8 at Country Terrace (facility-wide).

It’s at the discretion of each facility to make case tallies public.

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Since March, the region has seen at least 90 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including at least 64 at local seniors’ facilities.

Seniors’ facility outbreaks alone are linked to 331 resident cases and 331 staff cases. They’re also linked to 75 of the region’s deaths.

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MLHU says one case is active at Clarke Road Secondary School.

At least 177 cases have been reported tied to schools and child-care centres in London and Middlesex during the pandemic so far.

One new case has been reported involving a local child-care centre. The case involves London Bridge: Huron Heights Early Childhood Learning Centre.

A case is also still active involving Tia’s Castle, the health unit says.

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Students in the region, and across southern Ontario, will stay in remote learning until at least Jan. 25. There have been calls to extend the remote learning period due to the state of emergency, including by the union representing Ontario Catholic school teachers.

Vaccinations and testing

No update on the local vaccination effort was available Sunday. An update will be released on Monday during the health unit’s media briefing.

During the latest briefing on Thursday, the region’s medical officer of health said staff with the health unit were set to administer more vaccinations to long-term care and retirement home residents over the coming days, at a planned rate of one facility per day.

“The primary goals in a pandemic are: number one, to reduce the number of deaths; number two, to reduce serious illness and hospitalizations; and number three, to reduce the overall impact on society, including the economy,” Dr. Chris Mackie said.

Mackie noted that because some 60 per cent of deaths in the province have occurred in long-term care homes, which represent less than 10 per cent of Ontario’s population, the facilities are currently the best place to maximize the impact of the vaccine.

Phase 1 of the province’s three-phase vaccine rollout is set to run until March, with health-care workers; essential caregivers; adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations; and adults who receive chronic home health care being added to the list of those to be vaccinated.

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Mackie says present demand for the vaccine greatly surpasses the available supply, so vaccines are being prioritized locally for seniors’ facility residents and staff.

The province has said it wants the COVID-19 vaccine administered in all long-term care and retirement homes by Feb. 15.

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To focus on that effort, it was reported earlier this week that vaccinations for hospital workers in the region had been put on hold, excluding those who had already received their first shot.

Phase 2 of the plan is anticipated to begin at the start of April, with the vaccine becoming available to older adults, those who live and work in high-risk congregate settings, front-line essential workers and those with high-risk chronic conditions.

On Friday, the federal government reported that production issues in Europe will temporarily reduce Pfizer’s ability to deliver vaccines to Canada.

The drugmaker is temporarily reducing deliveries because of issues with its European production lines, and while the company says it can still deliver four million doses by the end of March, it’s no longer guaranteed.

As of Friday, local assessment centres will no longer perform COVID-19 tests for international travel, in compliance with a recent provincial change.

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Those in need of a COVID-19 test before travelling or entering their country of destination are asked to consult alternative local testing options.

According to the health unit, London’s two assessment centres continue to see very high demand, as has been the case since late November.

Carling Heights has seen an average of 468 visits per day over the last seven days, while Oakridge Arena, which is not open on weekends, saw an average of 333 between Monday and Thursday of this week.

Both centres are continuing to operate by appointment only.


Ontario reported 3,422 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 237,786.

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Sixty-nine more deaths were also reported Sunday, bringing the provincial death toll to 5,409.

A total of 203,484 COVID-19 cases are considered resolved, which is 85.6 per cent of all confirmed cases.

Nearly 60,200 additional tests were completed. Ontario has now completed a total of 8,925,446 tests and 30,103 remain under investigation.

Elgin and Oxford

Two people have died and 49 more have tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported Sunday.

The update brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,040, of which 1,628 people have recovered, 36 more than the day before.

Health officials say 42 people have died, 29 since Jan. 1.

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As of Sunday, 370 cases remain active in the region. At least 86 are in Tillsonburg, while 68 are in St. Thomas. Elsewhere, 45 cases are active in Woodstock, 38 in Norwich and 37 in Aylmer. Ten other municipalities have active case tallies under 20.

At least 12 people were in hospital as of Thursday, with four people in intensive care.

Active cases remain at multiple facilities, declared on:

  • Jan. 16 at Chartwell Oxford Gardens – Woodstock (one staff case)
  • Jan. 16 at Seasons Retirement Home – St. Thomas (one staff case)
  • Jan. 15 at Dayspring Residence – Tillsonburg (one resident case)
  • Jan. 8 at Extendicare Port Stanley (two staff cases)
  • Jan. 6 at Trillium Retirement Home (13 resident, five staff cases)
  • Jan. 4 at Caressant Care Bonnie Place – St. Thomas (two resident cases and one death)
  • Jan. 1 at Woodingford Lodge – Woodstock (two resident, one staff case)
  • Dec. 19 at Terrace Lodge in Aylmer (five staff cases)
  • Dec. 16 at PeopleCare Tavistock (39 resident, 37 staff cases, seven deaths)
  • Dec. 12 at Maple Manor Nursing Home (81 resident, 51 staff cases, 16 deaths)

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No cases were listed as active by either the Thames Valley District School Board or the London District Catholic School Board.

Whether any cases have been reported at any other school boards, or at private schools, is unclear. The health unit does not report school cases itself, instead deferring to the province’s online database, which is not being updated amid remote learning.

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St. Thomas has seen the largest number of cases in the region, 361, reporting a cumulative incidence rate of 928 cases per 100,000 people.

Aylmer has reported the second-highest number of cases, 327, and has a cumulative incidence rate of 4,365 cases per 100,000.

Elsewhere, Woodstock has seen 325 cases while Tillsonburg has seen 296, Norwich 172, Bayham 151, East Zorra-Tavistock 86, Ingersoll 82, Zorra 48, Blandford Blenheim 45, South-West Oxford 42, Central Elgin 40, Southwold 23, West Elgin 19, Dutton/Dunwich 15 and Malahide seven.

At least six per cent of tests were coming back positive as of the week of Jan. 3. The health unit says about 5,081 people were tested, down slightly from 5,149 the week before.

Huron and Perth

Officials with Huron Perth Public Health does not provide COVID-19 updates on Sundays.

As of Saturday, the region’s total case tally stood at 981, of which at least 845 have recovered and 25 deaths have been reported, most recently on Monday.

The region has reported at least 157 cases this month and two deaths.

At least 111 cases were active in the region, according to the health unit, and at least five people are in hospital due to COVID-19.

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On Thursday, health officials in Huron and Perth said limited amounts of the vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech were being distributed to long-term care residents as outlined in the provincial distribution plan.

Staff from the facilities have also been vaccinated since late December in London at the Western Fair District Agriplex.

The health unit says work is being done to develop local sequencing models and distribution plans that fall in line with the province’s plans, and its ethical framework.

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For the broader general public, the health unit says vaccines likely won’t become available for a few months.

“HPPH asks the public to be patient and await further information – there is no vaccination waiting list set up for the general public.”

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One institutional outbreak was declared at Stratford General Hospital linked to three staff cases. No patient cases are linked to the outbreak at this time. The hospital had previously had one other outbreak declared over on Dec 21 linked to seven staff cases.

As of Saturday, nine institutional outbreaks were active, with seven at long-term care homes and two at retirement homes, declared on:

  • Jan. 10 at Caressant Care Nursing Home in North Perth (20 resident, two staff cases; five resident and two staff cases more than the day before)
  • Jan. 10 at Spruce Lodge in Stratford (one staff case)
  • Jan. 8 at Fordwich Village in North Huron (two staff cases)
  • Jan. 8 at Wildwood Care Centre in St. Marys (one staff case)
  • Jan. 7 at Caressant Care Retirement Home in North Perth (19 resident, four staff cases)
  • Jan. 7 at Greenwood Court in Stratford (one staff case)
  • Jan. 4 at Knollcrest Lodge in Perth East (two staff cases)
  • Jan. 1 at Livingstone Manor in North Perth (two resident, two staff cases)
  • Dec. 18 at Exeter Villa in South Huron [LTC] (36 resident, 11 staff cases)

At least 32 long-term care and retirement home outbreaks have been reported during the pandemic, linked to at least 217 of the region’s cases. A death toll relating to the outbreaks was not immediately available.

According to the Avon Maitland board, cases remain active at:

  • Avon-Maitland board
  • Clinton Public School (two cases)
  • Elma Township Public School
  • F.E. Madill Secondary School
  • South Huron District High School (four cases)
  • St. Marys District Collegiate and Vocational Institute (three cases)
  • Stratford District Secondary School (three cases)

Perth County remains the hardest-hit municipality of the Huron-Perth region, recording 424 cases since the pandemic began. More than half, 244, are in North Perth.

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Elsewhere, 278 cases have been recorded in Huron County, 251 in Stratford and 28 in St. Marys.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 3.3 per cent as of the week of Jan. 3, a minor drop from the 3.5 per cent the week before.

At least 3,616 people were tested during the week of Jan. 3, slightly higher than the 3,537 tested the week before.

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Sarnia and Lambton

Lambton Public Health (LPH) reported 72 new COVID-19 cases along with 33 recoveries on Sunday.

The update brings the region’s case tally to 1,616, of which 1,347 people have recovered.

At least 31 people have died and 238 cases remain active in the region.

At least 13 are in hospital with COVID-19; two more than the day before, according to Bluewater Health.

The county has reported at least 727 cases since the month began, and its weekly rate of new cases per 100,000 residents was at least 253 as of provincial figures released Wednesday. The rate was the second-highest in Ontario behind Windsor-Essex.

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LPH does not provide specific COVID-19 updates on the weekends. The information posted below was last updated Friday.

Ten outbreaks were active, including nine at senior homes and one at an unnamed workplace.

An outbreak at Village on the St. Clair has claimed the lives of two residents, the health unit said. The outbreak was declared active on Dec. 30 at the Sarnia retirement home. At least 21 resident and seven staff cases have been reported there.

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The Village on the St. Clair outbreak is among nine that remain active at long-term care and retirement homes in the county, declared on:

  • Jan. 13 at Vision Rest Home (one staff case)
  • Jan. 11 at Landmark Village in Sarnia (two staff cases; one more than the day before)
  • Jan. 9 at Sumac Lodge in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • Jan. 8 at Fiddick’s Nursing Home in Petrolia (one staff case)
  • Jan. 8 at Fiddick’s Retirement Home in Petrolia (one staff case)
  • Jan. 8 at Twin Lakes Terrace (LTC) in Sarnia (15 resident, two staff cases)
  • Jan. 8 at Twin Lakes Terrace (Retirement) in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • Jan. 4 at Fairwinds Lodge in Sarnia (five resident, two staff cases)
  • Dec. 30 at Village on the St. Clair in Sarnia (21 resident, seven staff cases)

Outbreaks at 25 seniors’ facilities have been tied to 104 resident and 73 staff cases and 18 deaths.

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Meantime, one workplace outbreak remains active, tied to seven cases. The outbreak was declared on Jan. 3. The name and location of the workplace have not been made public.

The region’s weekly test positivity rate stood at 6.2 per cent as of the week of Jan. 3, with some 4,614 people tested, roughly the same as the previous week, when the test positivity rate was 6.8 per cent.

A total of at least 80,552 people have been tested in Lambton.

— With files from Matthew Trevithick, Sawyer Bogdan and The Canadian Press