46 new coronavirus cases in London and Middlesex, 1 year after region reported first case

A woman wears a face mask as she walks along the Lachine Canal in Montreal, Sunday, January 17, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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No new deaths, 46 new coronavirus cases and 20 recoveries were reported by the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), one year after the region reported its first COVID-19 case.

The MLHU announced on Jan. 31, 2020, a Western University student in her 20s who recently came back from Wuhan, China, had tested positive.

Since then, the London and Middlesex region has reported more than 5,600 cases along with 175 deaths.

As of Sunday, the region’s pandemic case tally stood at 5,689, of which 3,807 people have recovered.

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Health unit figures show that at least 2,306 cases have been reported in the region since the beginning of the month.

At least 1,707 cases are active in the region, according to the figures.

At least 175 people have died during the pandemic, including 69 this month.

The health unit completed its online dashboard updates on Friday. Officials say the new system will allow officials to provide virtual notifications to those diagnosed with COVID-19.

The MLHU is also awaiting results back from provincial labs on samples sent from several rapidly spreading outbreaks in the region, including at certain seniors’ facilities, the city’s jail and Men’s Mission.


The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) stood at 17 as of Friday.

The number of patients in critical or intensive care remains at eight, the organization reported.

Active staff cases within LHSC number 15. LHSC is still dealing with an active outbreak at University Hospital tied to 10 staff cases.

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No COVID-19 patients were reported to be in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

According to St. Joseph’s Health Care London, five staff cases remain active within the organization, all linked to an outbreak at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care.

At least 336 people have had to be hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 66 who needed intensive care.

Institutional outbreaks

A new institutional outbreak has been declared at Henley Place LTC Residence, in the facility’s Victoria unit.

It’s among 11 institutional outbreaks that remain in place in the region. Of those, 10 are at seniors’ facilities and one is at University Hospital.

The University Hospital outbreak is located in its emergency department and has been tied to 10 staff cases.

An outbreak also remains active at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, tied to at least 19 inmate cases and 11 staff cases as of Friday, an increase of one staff case from the day before.

Active outbreaks (as of Jan. 29) at seniors' facilities, as declared on:
  • Jan. 30 at Henley Place LTC Residence (Victoria unit)
  • Jan. 27 at Kensington Village Retirement (5th, 6th, and 7th Avenue)
  • 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 – facility-wide)
  • Dec. 26 at Extendicare (facility-wide)
  • Dec. 23 at Middlesex Terrace (facility-wide)
  • Dec. 22 at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care (MV1 and MV4; SM2 has resolved. All resident cases have been resolved, according to St. Joseph’s Health Care London. Five staff cases remained active as of Thursday. Five deaths have been reported)
  • Dec. 8 at Country Terrace (facility-wide).

Since March, the region has seen at least 94 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including 68 at local seniors’ facilities.

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No new school cases were reported by the Thames Valley District School Board or by the London District Catholic School Board.

At least 181 school and child-care centre cases have been reported since the pandemic began.

Students in London and Middlesex will be among those returning to in-person learning next week.

Elementary school students are set to resume in-class learning on Monday, while secondary school students will return on Thursday, according to the TVDSB and LCDSB.

TVDSB officials said the Thursday return date for secondary school students coincides with the start of the third quadmester, while LDCSB officials said the delay was “due to the transition between octomesters and secondary PD day.”

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The return of in-person learning also includes local schools under Conseil scolaire catholique Providence and Conseil scolaire Viamonde.

The return to class will come with added safety precautions, including a mandate that all students in Grades 1 through 12 will be required to wear a mask outside when physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Stricter screening protocols are also being implemented, in addition to expanded access to targeted asymptomatic testing.

More details are expected next week.

Vaccinations and testing

All high-risk retirement home residents and long-term care home residents received their initial vaccines as of Wednesday.

Thousands of staff had been vaccinated at the Agriplex before it closed temporarily last week. The closure will remain in place until at least next Friday due to supply issues involving the Pfizer vaccine.

The health unit this week issued a draft vaccination plan for the region. The goal is to get at least 75 per cent of eligible recipients in London-Middlesex vaccinated in as short a time as possible.

The health unit says some 377,685 people must be vaccinated with a total of 755,370 doses, something that will be done through the use of mass vaccination and mobile clinics, primary care settings and pharmacies.

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London has one mass vaccination clinic at the Western Fair District Agriplex, and the health unit says it’s pursuing locations for three additional clinics, with the goal of administering 3,000 vaccines per day. The additional clinics are expected to be open by mid-February.

“The help unit is working with a bunch of people in the community to get the infrastructure built so that when the supply shows up, we are ready to hit the ground running,” Dr Alex Summers, the region’s associated medical officer of health, said Friday in an interview with 980 CFPL’s London Live with Mike Stubbs.

Health officials say the draft plan will see feedback from the ministry before being finalized. Comments and input from the public is also being sought.

In addition to the mass clinics and the mobile clinics that have been targeting long-term care and retirement home residents, shelters, group homes and housebound individuals, health officials say primary care settings, in particular, will play a critical role in the program, namely in the third phase of the province’s three-phase rollout.

“The big question, of course, is ‘who’s up next and how will I know when it’s my turn?’ That continues to be information (that) we’re waiting on the province to tell us,” Summers said.

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“Here locally, we’ll have to make some further prioritization decisions around how much supply we have. But you can be sure you will know when your turn is up, and the focus will be on making sure that the people who get it are the people who are at most risk from a poor outcome from COVID-19.”

It remains to be seen whether an announced drop in Moderna vaccine deliveries will impact the local vaccination effort. Moderna will ship only about three-quarters of the expected supply next week, cutting Canada’s next shipment by more than 50,000 doses.

It is more bad news for Canada’s already troubled vaccine supplies after Pfizer cut back its deliveries by more than two-thirds since mid-January.

Pfizer is also pushing Canada to change the label on its vaccine to declare that each vial contains six doses, instead of five, allowing the drugmaker to meet its delivery contract by sending fewer vials.

With developments on the vaccine front changing almost daily, Summers likened trying to plan out a vaccination framework to “trying to juggle on a trampoline.”

“You anticipate you’re going to get so much stock and then that changes. And I would say that’s no fault of anybody. This is a really, really complicated and unprecedented rollout out of a really scarce product. So we have to juggle while trying to jump on that trampoline. And it isn’t easy,” he said.

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What we can plant our feet on is the idea that, at some point, we will have vaccine, and we’re going to want to get it out quickly. So we can build for that.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says new export controls Europe is imposing on COVID-19 vaccines produced there won’t affect Canada, and he expects Pfizer and Moderna to catch up on their deliveries before long.

Visitation rates to the city’s two COVID-19 assessment centres have remained steady through the week, albeit with lower overall numbers than previous weeks.

The Carling Heights centre averaged 327 visits per day between Jan. 18 and 22 and has averaged 297 from Monday to Thursday of this week.

The site averaged 462 per day between Jan. 11 and Jan. 15.

At Oakridge Arena, the site averaged 288 visits per day between Jan. 18 and Jan. 22 and has averaged 259 so far this week.

Between Jan. 11 and Jan. 15, the site saw an average of 331 visits per day.

Officials with the Thames Valley Family Health Team have attributed the slump to several factors, including the province’s stay-at-home order, and to the ceasing of testing for travel.

Both centres are continuing to operate by appointment only.

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Ontario reported 1,848 cases of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 268,211.

Forty-three deaths were also reported on Sunday, bringing the provincial death toll to 6,188.

A total of 242,807 COVID-19 cases are considered resolved, which is up by 2,313 and is 90.5 per cent of all confirmed cases.

Over 49,300 additional tests were completed. Ontario has now completed a total of 9,673,517 tests and 15,616 remain under investigation.

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Elgin and Oxford

Southwestern Public Health reported eight new COVID-19 cases and 10 recoveries on Sunday.

The update brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,295, with 2,079 recoveries and 57 deaths.

There remain 159 active cases in the region. At least 55 of them are in Woodstock, while 17 are in Tillsonburg, 21 in Norwich, 21 in St. Thomas, and 12 in East Zorra-Tavistock. Ten other municipalities have active case tallies under 10.

At least five people were in hospital for COVID-19 as of Sunday, with one in intensive care, according to the health unit.

At least 41 people have died since the beginning of the month, while 904 cases have been reported.

Nine outbreaks remain active. Active outbreaks were declared on:

  • Jan. 28 at Extendicare in Port Stanley (one staff case)
  • Jan. 24 at Arches Transitional Bed Program in Woodstock (one staff case)
  • Jan. 21 at Caressant Care Retirement Home in Woodstock (35 resident, nine staff cases)
  • Jan. 21 at Elgin Manor in St. Thomas (one staff case)
  • Jan. 15 at Dayspring Residence in Tillsonburg (one resident case)
  • Jan. 1 at Woodingford Lodge – Woodstock (two resident, two staff cases)
  • Dec. 19 at Terrace Lodge in Aylmer (six staff cases)
  • Dec. 16 at PeopleCare Tavistock (47 resident, 36 staff cases; nine deaths)
  • Dec. 12 at Maple Manor Nursing Home (85 resident, 52 staff cases; 20 deaths)

At least 32 outbreaks have been declared in the region at 21 facilities during the pandemic.

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Meantime, no new school cases have been reported, and none are active in the region at any school operated by the Thames Valley District School Board or the London District Catholic School Board.

According to the health unit, 411 cases have been confirmed during the pandemic in Woodstock, while 394 have been in St. Thomas, 357 in Aylmer and 320 in Tillsonburg.

The caseload has impacted Aylmer much harder than the other locales. The town’s case incidence rate is equivalent to 4,765 cases per 100,000 people. Woodstock’s is 1,005 and St. Thomas 1,013.

Elsewhere, 196 cases have been in Norwich, 160 in Bayham, 100 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 97 in Ingersoll, 53 in Zorra, 47 in Blandford-Blenheim, 46 in South-West Oxford, 43 in Central Elgin, 24 in Southwold, 21 in West Elgin, 17 in Dutton/Dunwich and eight in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 2.4 per cent the week of Jan. 17, down from 3.2 the week before and 5.9 the week before that.

Health officials say 5,239 tests were conducted the week of Jan. 10, down slightly from the roughly 5,711 done the week before.

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Huron and Perth

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

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As of Saturday, the region’s total case tally stood at 1,208. At least 1,095 cases have been deemed recovered by the health unit, while 39 people have died, most recently on Thursday involving a resident of Caressant Care Nursing Home.

Health unit figures show at least 17 people have died since the beginning of the month.

As of Saturday, at least 74 cases were listed as active in the region. More than half of them, 43, are located in Huron East and 14 are in North Perth. Nine other municipalities have active case tallies under 10.

At least five people are currently in hospital due to COVID-19.

No new outbreaks have been declared and none have been deemed resolved.

Three are active, with two at long-term care homes and one at a retirement home. No new cases were reported in relation to them on Friday.

The outbreaks were declared on:

  • Jan. 17 at Seaforth Manor in Huron East (37 resident, eight staff cases)
  • Jan. 10 at Caressant Care Nursing Home in North Perth (43 resident, 26 staff cases; 12 deaths)
  • Jan. 7 at Caressant Care Retirement Home in North Perth (30 resident, nine staff cases; one death)

Earlier this week, an outbreak at Stratford General Hospital in the facility’s surgery unit was declared over. It was linked to four staff cases.

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No new school cases have been reported, but two have recovered.

The two cases were tied to Listowel District Secondary School and St. Marys District Collegiate and Vocational Institute. Both were reported on Jan. 15.

One case remains active at Listowel District.

The update leaves six active cases at schools in Huron-Perth, all under the banner of the Avon-Maitland District School Board:

  • Listowel District Secondary School
  • North Perth Westfield Elementary School (two cases)
  • Stratford District Secondary School
  • Stratford Intermediate School (two cases)

No cases were listed as active by the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.

At least 518 cases have been reported in Perth County during the pandemic, including 332 in North Perth 131 in Perth East, 29 in Perth South and 26 in West Perth.

Elsewhere, 378 cases have been reported in Huron County, including 89 in South Huron, 70 in Huron East, 46 in Central Huron, 39 in Morris Turnberry, 38 in North Huron, 32 in Bluewater, 33 in Howick, 20 in ACW and 11 in Goderich.

In Stratford, 284 cases have been reported, while in St. Marys, 28 have been reported.

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According to the health unit, the region’s test positivity rate rose slightly the week of Jan. 17, up to 3.2 per cent from 3.1 the week prior. At least 3,635 people were tested that week.

Sarnia and Lambton

Six new COVID-19 cases along with nine recoveries were reported by Lambton Public Health reported Sunday.

The update brings the region’s pandemic case total to 1,833, of which 1,709 have recovered.

A total of 37 people have died in the county. The most recent death was reported on Friday and details on that death were not immediately available.

There are at least 87 active cases of the virus in Lambton.

At least eight people were in hospital at Bluewater Health as of Sunday.

At least 976 cases have been reported in Lambton since Jan. 1, more than were reported through all of 2020 — 847.

Seven institutional outbreaks were active as of Friday, including five at senior homes and two at workplaces.

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

  • Jan. 28 at Lambton Meadowview Villa in Petrolia (one staff case)
  • Jan. 13 at Vision Rest Home (32 resident, 14 staff cases, two deaths)
  • 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, 14 staff cases, three deaths)

Meantime, an outbreak at Bluewater Health is tied to three patient and six staff cases, while 13 cases have been reported in the two workplace outbreaks.

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No information has been released relating to possible new school cases. 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 will remain in remote learning next week.

The county’s test positivity rate fell to 2.3 per cent as of the week of Jan. 17 to 23, down from 4.5 the week before and 6.2 the week before that.

At least 4,231 people were tested the week of Jan. 17, compared to a total of 5,027 a week earlier.

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

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