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Coronavirus: 2 deaths, 19 cases in London-Middlesex; lowest single-day jump since early December

The London, Ont., skyline, November 2020. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

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Two people have died and 19 others have tested positive for the coronavirus in London and Middlesex Tuesday.

It’s the lowest single-day increase the region has seen since early December.

The update brings the region’s total case tally to 5,488, of which 3,747 have recovered, an increase of 16 from the day before.

At least 172 people have died, including at least 66 just since Jan. 1.

The two deaths reported on Tuesday involved a man in his 60s who was not tied to a seniors’ facility, and a man in his 90s who was linked to a long-term care home.

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Few other details have been released.

The region has seen 26 straight days where at least one COVID-19-related death has been reported by the health unit.

At least 2,096 confirmed cases have been reported so far this month, more than any other month of the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, there were at least 1,569 active cases in London and Middlesex.

Read more: Father confirms London, Ont., 19-year-old died from COVID-19

Of the 19 new cases, all but one are from London. One case is from Lucan-Biddulph.

Cases are relatively spread out by age, with none being reported involving people over 70. Four are 19 or younger, two are in their 20s, three each are in their 30s and 40s, six are in their 50s, and one is in their 60s.

At least seven contracted the virus through close contact with a confirmed case, while three have no known link, and one is due to an outbreak. At least eight cases are pending an exposure source.

It’s unclear whether any recent cases are tied to the U.K variant B.1.1.7, which has been found to be more contagious.

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Coronavirus: New evidence shows UK variant may be more deadly, Boris Johnson says – Jan 22, 2021

Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said Monday that a second case had been identified in the community involving a close contact of the region’s first documented U.K. variant case.

“This is a case from back in December. Unfortunately, that person died in December,” Mackie said of the second case.

“So we have a case of transmission of U.K. variant in this community, and unfortunately a related death… No other cases of U.K variant have yet been detected in Middlesex and London.”

Mackie says the health unit has asked provincial labs to look at positive samples relating to several quick-spreading outbreaks in the region to see if any are linked to the variant.

The U.K. variant is deemed to have caused a deadly outbreak at a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., that has infected more than 200 people and killed at least 44 residents and one essential caregiver.

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Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that the province is testing samples to look for three new variants — separate strains that first emerged in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil — to determine where they are and how they spread.

Elliott said the province had tested more than 9,000 samples for the new variants as of Monday, and is aiming to assess 1,500 samples per week starting next week.

Read more: Trudeau says Canada’s COVID-19 vaccines safe from EU threats to limit exports

The region’s seven-day case average stands at 48.14 as of Tuesday, while the 14-day average sits at 64.

London has recorded at least 4,750 cases during the pandemic, followed by Middlesex Centre with 236.

Looking at the impact that cases have had, Middlesex Centre has been hit harder due to its smaller population size.

Its caseload is equivalent to 1,335 cases per 100,000 people to London’s 1,173.

Elsewhere, Strathroy-Caradoc has reported 189 cases, Thames Centre 93, Southwest Middlesex 36, Lucan Biddulph 35, North Middlesex 28, Adelaide Metcalfe 13 and Newbury two. At least 106 cases are pending location data.

Hospitalizations

The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre stands at 19, an increase of four from the day before.

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At the same time, those in intensive or critical care fell by one to six, the organization said.

LHSC staff currently infected with the virus number 16, down five from the day before.

At least nine staff cases have been reported as a result of an outbreak at University Hospital’s emergency department. It’s unclear how many are still considered active.

At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meantime, no patients with COVID-19 were reported in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

At least seven staff with SJHLC are infected, six due to an outbreak at Mount Hope.

Read more: Western University Chancellor Linda Hasenfratz to keep position after out-of-country vacation

During Monday’s media briefing, Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s chief medical officer, said that with lower community case numbers and critical care inpatient numbers, the organization would again ramp up operating room capacity as of Wednesday.

“We will be increasing our surgical capacity to 85 to 90 per cent of normal volumes at University Hospital. This means 13 and a half of 15 operating rooms will be running at UH. At Victoria Hospital, we have been running at approximately 90 per cent, or 17 of 19 operating rooms, since last Wednesday and will continue to do so,” Dukelow said.

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“Despite our surgical increases, we remain ready to support our region and province, and we are monitoring our capacity daily.”

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Coronavirus: ER visits down significantly during COVID-19 first wave – Jan 17, 2021

The health unit says at least 334 people have had to be hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 66 who have needed intensive care.

Institutional outbreaks

No new outbreaks have been reported at local health-care institutions, however, three have been declared over.

One outbreak was declared on Jan. 10 at Queens Village in its Memory Lane area, while another was reported on the first floor of Kensington Village’s long-term care home on Jan. 14.

The third outbreak to be declared over is also the region’s most recently reported outbreak. It was declared active on Friday and has already been deemed resolved, according to the health unit.

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It’s unclear how many cases had been reported in each outbreak, as such information is not released by the health unit in a per-facility fashion.

Read more: Calgary company begins human clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Twelve institutional outbreaks remain active in the region, 10 of which are located at long-term care and retirement homes.

Active outbreaks at seniors' facilities as declared on:

  • Jan. 19 at Peoplecare Oak Crossing (Red Oak)
  • Jan. 16 at Longworth Retirement Residence (facility-wide)
  • Jan. 9 at Glendale Crossing (Lambeth, Westminster)
  • Jan. 8 at Chelsey Park Retirement Community (third and fifth floors)
  • Jan. 5 at Oneida Long-Term Care Home (facility-wide)
  • Jan. 2 at Chelsey Park (long-term care – fifth floor, second floor)
  • Dec. 26 at Extendicare (facility-wide)
  • Dec. 23 at Middlesex Terrace (facility-wide)
  • Dec. 22 at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care (facility-wide; at least two residents and eight staff are presently infected, a notable drop from previous weeks. Five people have also died.)
  • Dec. 8 at Country Terrace (facility-wide).

One outbreak also remains active within LHSC in the emergency department of University Hospital. The outbreak is tied to at least nine staff cases. The region also has a second active hospital outbreak, located at Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital in 2 South. It’s unclear how many cases are linked to the outbreak.

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A non-institutional outbreak also remains active at the city’s jail. The outbreak was first declared on Jan. 18 and had infected at least 19 inmates as of Saturday, according to provincial data. At least 10 staff cases had been reported at the jail as of Friday.

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With concerns over the continued spread of more infectious variants of the coronavirus, including one first discovered in the U.K., B.1.1.7, local health officials have asked the provincial lab to examine positive samples from some quick-spreading local outbreaks to see whether the U.K. variant may be to blame.

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COVID-19 variant discovered in at least 4 Ontario communities – Jan 25, 2021

Some of the outbreaks to be examined include those at Country Terrace, Middlesex Terrace, EMDC, and a local homeless shelter, Dr. Chris Mackie said.

Read more: Provinces sitting on millions in COVID-19 funds for long-term care homes: CCPA

Since March, the region has seen at least 92 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including at least 66 at local seniors’ facilities.

Seniors’ facilities alone have been linked to at least 340 resident cases and 362 staff cases. At least 95 have died.

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Schools

No new school cases have been reported by local school boards or by the health unit.

One case is currently active, reported on Sunday at Chippewa Public School.

Health officials say at least 181 cases have been reported during the pandemic involving schools and childcare centres.

Three cases are currently active at childcare centres, including Darbi Daycare, Gibbons Park Montessori School, and London Children’s Connection – Rick Hansen Children’s Centre, the health unit says.

Students in the London region have been learning remotely and won’t be back in the classroom until at least Feb. 11.

Schools in seven public health units across southern Ontario reopened for in-person classes on Monday.

Vaccinations and Testing

Health officials say all local high-risk retirement home residents will see their initial doses of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of Wednesday.

“After that, we’ll take about a week and a half pause as we acquire additional vaccine supplies for second doses,” said Dr. Chris Mackie on Monday.

Retirement homes that are considered high-risk are facilities that are co-located with long-term care and have the potential for staff and personnel crossover, Mackie said.

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Read more: Will Canadians get to choose which COVID-19 vaccine they get?

The news comes after health unit teams finished vaccinating all eligible long-term care home residents on Sunday.

“We’ll be going back in about two or three weeks for second doses for all of those homes,” Mackie said of the long-term care vaccinations.

It also comes after the province moved up the goal of getting initial shots in the arms of long-term care home and high-risk retirement home residents to Feb. 5.

In all, Mackie says just over 6,000 long-term care and retirement home residents will have been vaccinated, in addition to the 10,000 or so staff who were vaccinated at the Agriplex before it temporarily closed on Friday.

“Things are really moving in a positive direction in terms of getting those high-risk folks protected in our area,” Mackie said.

Facility upgrades at Pfizer’s Belgium plant have resulted in substantial delivery delays of the vaccine.

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Coronavirus: WHO experts issue recommendations on Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine – Jan 26, 2021

Ontario said it expects 26,325 Pfizer-BioNTech doses next week, which are far fewer than the amount originally expected. The federal government has not provided Ontario with an update on expected vaccine deliveries on Feb. 8 or Feb. 15, the province said.

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The CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario said the government should have focused on long-term care residents when it first started its vaccine rollout. Instead, some staff that are not dealing with front-line patients have received the vaccine, Doris Grinspun said.

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According to the health unit, 3.6 per cent of tests were coming back positive as of the week of Jan. 10, down from 6.1 per cent the week prior. Updated numbers are expected Wednesday.

At least 12,103 tests were conducted the week of Jan. 10, down from 12,901 a week earlier. Both of the city’s two assessment centres are continuing to operate by appointment only.

Ontario

Ontario is reporting 1,740 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 63 more deaths linked to the virus.

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Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 677 new cases in Toronto, 320 in Peel Region, and 144 in York Region.

More than 30,700 tests have been completed since Ontario’s last daily update.

The province says that 2,261 cases were resolved since Monday’s report.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,740 new coronavirus cases, 63 more deaths

Ontario is reporting that 9,707 more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered since the last daily update.

A total of 295,817 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the province so far.

The first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine is scheduled to arrive in one of 31 fly-in First Nations communities on Tuesday as part of Ontario’s Operation Remote Immunity.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says that the ORNGE air ambulance service will be delivering and administering the Moderna vaccine to Weenusk First Nation.

Weenusk is a largely Cree community of approximately 500 people in the Hudson Bay region of northern Ontario.

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Elgin and Oxford

One person has died and 13 others have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported on Tuesday.

The region’s pandemic case tally now stands at 2,234, of which 1,949 people have recovered, an increase of 31 from the day before.

At least 55 people have died during the pandemic, including at least 41 this month.

Health officials say Tuesday’s reported death involved a man in his 60s from Elgin County.

At least 855 cases have been reported since the start of the month.

As of Tuesday, at least 230 cases are active in the region. Of those, 57 are in Tillsonburg, 45 are in Woodstock and 27 each are active in Aylmer, Norwich and St. Thomas. Nine other municipalities have active case tallies of 11 or fewer.

Read more: Global coronavirus cases have crossed 100 million

No new institutional outbreaks have been declared, but an outbreak at Caressant Care Retirement Home in Woodstock has grown significantly since the health unit’s last update.

At least 19 resident cases and three staff cases have been reported at the facility since the outbreak was declared on Jan. 21.

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The health unit reported one resident and one staff case at the facility as of Monday.

It’s among at least 12 long-term care and retirement home outbreaks that are currently active, as declared on:

  • Jan. 21 at Caressant Care Retirement Home in Woodstock (19 resident, three staff cases; 18 and two more, respectively, than the day before)
  • Jan. 21 at Elgin Manor in St. Thomas (one staff case)
  • Jan. 18 at Harvest Crossing Retirement Home in Tillsonburg (one staff case)
  • Jan. 16 at Chartwell Oxford Gardens (one staff case)
  • Jan. 16 at Seasons Retirement Home in St. Thomas (one staff case)
  • Jan. 15 at Dayspring Residence in Tillsonburg (one resident case)
  • 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, two staff case)
  • Dec. 19 at Terrace Lodge in Aylmer (six staff cases)
  • Dec. 16 at PeopleCare Tavistock (47 resident, 36 staff cases, nine deaths; one resident case more than the day before)
  • Dec. 12 at Maple Manor Nursing Home (85 resident, 52 staff cases, 20 deaths)

At least 24 institutional outbreaks have been declared in the region during the pandemic.

No new school cases were reported in the region by the Thames Valley District School Board or the London District Catholic School Board. No school cases within those boards are active in either Elgin or Oxford counties.

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It’s unclear whether new cases have been reported at other school boards or at private schools.

Read more: 99 people mostly linked to Barrie, Ont., nursing home outbreak test positive for COVID-19 variant

St. Thomas has reported 387 cases during the pandemic, followed by Woodstock with 380 and Aylmer with 355.

Aylmer’s caseload equates to 4,738 cases per 100,000 people, well above any other municipality in the London region. St. Thomas’s incidence rate is 963 per 100,000 while Woodstock’s is 843.

Elsewhere, 320 cases have been in Tillsonburg, 192 in Norwich, 159 in Bayham, 98 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 91 in Ingersoll, 51 in Zorra, 45 in South-West Oxford, 44 in Blandford-Blenheim, 43 in Central Elgin, 24 in Southwold, 20 in West Elgin, 16 in Dutton/Dunwich and eight in Malahide.

The health unit says the region’s test positivity rate fell to 3.2 per cent as of the week of Jan. 10, a notable drop from the 5.9 per cent seen a week earlier. Updated stats are expected Wednesday.

Health officials say 5,572 tests were conducted the week of Jan. 10, down slightly from the 6,160 the week before.

Huron and Perth

Two people have tested positive for the coronavirus, while another 53 have recovered, officials with Huron Perth Public Health said Tuesday.

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The update is one of the lowest single-day increases the health unit has reported in weeks.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,175, of which 1,017 people have recovered and 36 have died. Three deaths were reported on Monday.

The health unit says Tuesday’s two cases were reported in North Perth and Stratford.

At least 122 cases remain active in the region, the health unit says. Fifty-four of them are in North Perth, with 33 in Huron East and 14 in Stratford. Six other municipalities have active case tallies under 10.

At least five people are currently in hospital.

“We are cautiously optimistic about the low number of new confirmed cases reported to HPPH yesterday and today,” said a health unit spokesperson via email.

“In December and January, we have had other weeks that started with small numbers then quickly escalated to higher numbers. We need to see several days of low case counts before a trend can accurately be determined.”

The spokesperson also noted that they are not aware of any delays in testing or receiving back results that may be to blame for the lower case tally on Tuesday.

Read more: Bonnie Henry warns that British Columbia is on ‘brink’ of another spike

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Only two long-term care outbreaks and one retirement home outbreak remain active as of Tuesday after several were declared resolved over the weekend.

The active outbreaks were declared on:

  • Jan. 17 at Seaforth Manor in Huron East (26 resident, four staff cases)
  • Jan. 10 at Caressant Care Nursing Home in North Perth (43 resident, 26 staff cases, nine deaths)
  • Jan. 7 at Caressant Care Retirement Home in North Perth (30 resident, eight staff cases; one death)

The health unit says an outbreak also remains active at Stratford General Hospital in the facility’s surgery unit. On Monday, officials said they hoped to declare the outbreak, tied to four staff cases, over soon.

Read more: Montreal doctor hospitalized with COVID-19 describes ‘rollercoaster’ experience

No new school cases have been reported either. The most recent case was reported Jan. 22 at North Perth Westfield Elementary School.

Twelve remain active in the region, all at schools under the Avon-Maitland District School Board:

  • Clinton Public School (two cases)
  • Listowel District Secondary School (two cases)
  • North Perth Westfield Elementary School (two cases)
  • South Huron District High School (two cases)
  • St. Marys District Collegiate and Vocational Institute
  • Stratford District Secondary School
  • Stratford Intermediate School (two cases)

The health unit says at least 512 cases have been reported in Perth County, including 326 in North Perth, while 353 have been in Huron County, 282 in Stratford and 28 in St. Marys.

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According to the health unit, the region’s test positivity rate was 3.1 per cent as of the week of Jan. 10, down from 3.3 per cent a week earlier. Updated stats are expected Wednesday.

At least 3,949 people were tested that week, down from 4,126 a week earlier.

Sarnia and Lambton

One death and six cases were reported on Tuesday by Lambton Public Health.

The update brings the region’s total case tally to 1,788, of which 1,629 people have recovered, an increase of 41 from the day before.

At least 36 people have died. Details on the deceased were not immediately available.

Health officials say 123 cases remain active in the region. At least eight were reported to be in the care of Bluewater Health on Tuesday, down two from a day earlier.

At least 941 cases have been reported in Lambton since Jan. 1. A total of 847 were reported through all of 2020.

On Tuesday, Trillium Villa Nursing Home resident Valerie Verberg, 88, of Sarnia became the first person to receive a coronavirus vaccine as part of Lambton Public Health’s immunization program. Lambton Public Health

On Tuesday, health unit officials announced that its immunization program had officially begun following the arrival of 500 Moderna doses on Monday.

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The first person in the county to receive the vaccine as part of the health unit’s campaign was identified as Valerie Verberg, 88, a resident of Trillium Villa Nursing Home in Sarnia.

“I feel great. I can’t believe I was the first one!” she was quoted as saying, according to a health unit media release.

Health officials say the facility was picked given its level of risk as a result of its size and older design.

“Immunizations will continue this week until LPH administers all of the currently available doses of the Moderna vaccine. A small additional shipment of the vaccine is expected to arrive the first week of February, which will enable continued immunizations of the first priority groups.”

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A total of eight outbreaks are active in the county. Four are at seniors’ facilities, two are at workplaces, one is at Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia and one is at Sarnia’s jail.

The long-term care and retirement home outbreaks are as follows, declared on:

  • Jan. 13 at Vision Rest Home (29 resident, six staff cases)
  • Jan. 11 at Landmark Village in Sarnia (two staff cases)
  • Jan. 8 at Twin Lakes Terrace (LTC) in Sarnia (17 resident, five staff cases, one death)
  • Dec. 30 at Village on the St. Clair in Sarnia (27 resident, 12 staff cases, three deaths)

The hospital outbreak, meantime, is tied to two patient and six staff cases — one more staff case than the day before — while the outbreak at Sarnia’s jail is tied to four staff cases. No inmates are currently infected.

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The workplace outbreaks, declared Jan. 16 and 20, are tied to 13 cases. The names and locations of the outbreaks have not been released.

It’s unclear if any school cases have been reported.

The health unit does not report school cases, and the Lambton Kent District and St. Clair Catholic District school boards have paused public reporting while students are in remote learning.

The region’s test per cent positivity rate fell to 4.5 per cent for the week of Jan. 10, down from 6.2 a week earlier. New figures are expected Wednesday.

At least 4,920 people were tested. A total of 5,548 were tested a week earlier. A total of at least 86,472 people have been tested in Lambton.

— With files from The Canadian Press