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Coronavirus: 8 new cases in London-Middlesex as region eyes possible move out of red-control

FILE - A sign advising to wear a face covering at a shopping centre in Kingston, Ontario on Thursday, December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

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Eight people have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported on Thursday.

The region’s pandemic case tally stands at 6,133, of which 5,869 have resolved, an increase of 25 from the day before.

At least 181 people have died during the pandemic. The most recent death was recorded on Feb. 12 and made public the following day.

A total of 427 cases have been reported since Feb. 1 along with six deaths.

Of the eight cases reported Thursday, at least seven involve people from London. One case is pending location data.

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The cases involve two people aged 19 or younger, one each in their 20s and 30s, two in their 40s, and one in their 50s.

Close contact is listed as an exposure source for three cases, followed by outbreak and travel for one case each. Two cases are pending or undetermined and one has no known link.

Read more: Feds prepare for influx of COVID-19 vaccines, say Q1 targets will be met

During a media briefing Thursday, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, noted that regional case rates are lower than any other large community in the province.

“It’s a huge success, and also it is vulnerable, so as we celebrate, let’s do so remotely, let’s do so with masks on, keeping our distance, and still staying home as much as we can,” he said.

Mackie also revealed that two additional coronavirus variant cases had been confirmed in the region this week, bringing the regional total up to eight.

At least four involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. The four others remain under investigation.

New projections released Thursday by the province’s science advisory group show more infectious variants of COVID-19 will likely make up 40 per cent of cases by the second week of March.

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The group says declines in cases and hospitalizations that followed strict lockdown measures have begun to slow.

Projections show hospitalizations will likely rise as variants spread, and intensive care capacity will be strained over the next month.

As of this week, London and Middlesex remains in red-control of the province’s colour-coded restrictions framework, however local health officials have speculated the region could move to orange or even yellow next week.

The province will announce any potential change on Friday.

“We don’t have certainty right now about what level our community will be at as of Monday,” Mackie said.

“Will we be reduced to orange or yellow level restrictions? There’s also the possibility that across the province there will be additional measures taken to prevent the spread of variants of concern.”

During the briefing, London Mayor Ed Holder noted that, regardless of whether the region moves to orange or yellow, “it’s a significant accomplishment.”

“Our daily case counts are back down to what they were in October and November. We have fewer than five people in ICU in our hospital. And our total number of active cases across the region is back below 100. That’s phenomenal,” he said.

None of this happens without you. And by the same token, none of this could persist in the coming weeks and months without your continued vigilance. I’ve said it before and let me say it again, because it’s so important: colour coded restrictions may change, our behaviours and our attention to detail must not.”

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Read more: Coronavirus pandemic ‘likely’ to recede in summer, but health measures and limiting variants pivotal: Ontario data

The region’s seven-day case average stood at 11.48 as of Thursday, while the 14-day average was 12.42.

At least 5,340 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 248 have been in Middlesex Centre.

Elsewhere, 201 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 96 in Thames Centre, 54 in Lucan Biddulph, 37 in Southwest Middlesex, 32 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.

At least 109 cases have pending location information.

Hospitalizations

The number of COVID-19 inpatients hospitalized at London Health Sciences Centre fell into the single-digits on Thursday after nine patients were recorded, one fewer than the day before.

Fewer than five are in critical care or the intensive care unit, the organization said, unchanged from the day.

Active staff cases number fewer than five, also unchanged.

At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, no COVID-19 patients were reported to be in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital as of early Tuesday morning, the most recent update available.

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Four staff cases are active within SJHCL, with three linked to outbreaks. Two outbreaks remain active, including at Mount Hope and at Parkwood’s mental health care building.

One outbreak-related patient case is also active at Mount Hope.

At least 355 people have been hospitalized during the pandemic, with 66 in intensive care.

Institutional outbreaks

One new outbreak has been declared.

The outbreak is located at Chartwell Royalcliffe Retirement Residence and impacts the entire facility.

It’s among at least six outbreaks that are active in the region as of Thursday, declared on:

Active outbreaks (as of Feb. 25) at seniors' facilities, as declared on:

  • Feb. 24 at Chartwell Royalcliffe Retirement Residence (facility)
  • Feb. 19 at Peoplecare Oak Crossing (Norway Sprice – third floor)
  • Feb. 13 at Dearness Home (3 East)
  • Feb. 12 at Parkwood Institute Mental Health Care Building (G4)
  • Feb. 11 at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care (MV2)
  • Jan. 2 at Chelsey Park (long-term care – fifth floor)

There have been at least 102 institutional outbreaks since the pandemic began, with at least 75 at local seniors’ facilities.

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Elsewhere, non-institutional outbreaks remain active at one school, one child-care centre, and at London’s jail.

The school outbreak is located at St. Anne’s Catholic School, while the child-care centre outbreak is located at Pinetree Montessori School.

Read more: Canada’s small businesses now have $135B in debt due to COVID-19, CFIB estimates

The jail outbreak, located at London’s Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, is linked to at least55 confirmed cases involving 29 staff members and 26 inmates, according to the health unit.

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Provincial data shows at least five inmate cases were listed as active as of Tuesday, up from one the same time a week earlier, but lower than the peak of 19 recorded in late January.

According to a ministry spokesperson, at least two staff cases were active at the jail as of Thursday.

The EMDC outbreak was first declared on Jan. 18.

Schools

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

Two cases remain active in the region, both located at Northbrae Public School in London.

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An outbreak remains active at St. Anne’s Catholic School, which had one case that resolved as of Thursday. Two outbreaks at Caradoc North and Clara Brenton public schools ended on Tuesday.

At least 209 school and child care centre cases have been reported during the pandemic.

Two child care cases remain active at Mrs. B’s All My Little People and Pinetree Montessori School, both in London, according to the health unit.

An outbreak is also active at Pinetree, declared Feb. 16.

Vaccinations and Testing

During Thursday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie said the local vaccination campaign to get doses to the highest-risk health care workers in the region has been going well, with “a good proportion” vaccinated.

“We will continue into the ‘very high priority‘ health care workers soon, and we anticipate being able to move into the over-80 crowd sometime mid-March, maybe sort of early-mid-March rather than later-mid-March,” he said, adding more information would be available next week.

Mackie says the health unit will be working with primary care providers to get the vaccine out to those 80 and older, in addition to other measures.

“We’ll be asking family and friends to make sure that people who they know that are that are eligible, over 80, are able to get an appointment as quickly as possible, (and) help facilitate them making an appointment,” he said.

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Two vaccination clinics are open in the the region, one at the Western Fair District Agriplex, and the other at the Caradoc Community Centre in Mount Brydges.

At the moment, we’re vaccinating over 1,100 people per day in the Middlesex and London area. That’s a count specific to our programmes, but it does include some from outside of the region who would be accessing the vaccine at the Agriplex clinic,” Mackie said, adding the daily number could easily be ramped up to 1,500 per day with enough vaccine supply.

Two more facilities are planned to be opened at North London Optimist Community Centre and at ice pad A of the Earl Nichols Recreation Centre.

Mackie says one of the two sites is being planned to open in March, but stresses those plans are dependent on vaccine supply.

Click to play video: 'Vaccine priority, who should be first in line?' Vaccine priority, who should be first in line?
Vaccine priority, who should be first in line? – Feb 25, 2021

On Thursday it was confirmed that Pfizer will send more than 3.7 million doses to Canada between March 1 and April 15, and Moderna 1.3 million doses in March.

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“The news today doesn’t give us clarity on what that actually means for local supply, so as soon as we understand that, we’ll be able to make those decisions,” Mackie said.

Provincial, territorial and federal governments are planning a virtual exercise March 9 to go over what is in place for provinces and territories to handle the increased deliveries.

The health unit is utilizing a local vaccination booking system in partnership with London Health Sciences Centre. The province is launching its own system on March 15, but Mackie says it won’t necessarily be in place in all health units at the same time.

“We’re also of the understanding they won’t be forcing use of that system,” he said.

“So right now, we’ve got a system that is working well, it can be adjusted locally to meet where we’re at in the campaign, and that’s where we’re planning to continue to work for the foreseeable future.”

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine tracker: How many Canadians are vaccinated?

The region’s two main assessment centres, located at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.8 per cent as of the week of Feb. 14, down from 1.2 per cent the week before.

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At least 9,730 people were tested the week of Feb. 14 compared to 10,536 a week earlier.

Ontario

Ontario is reporting 1,138 new cases of COVID-19 today and 23 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 339 new cases in Toronto, 204 in Peel Region and 106 in York Region.

Ontario says 1,094 cases were resolved since Wednesday’s report.

Today’s data is based on nearly 66,400 tests.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 1,100 new coronavirus cases, 23 more deaths

Another 19,112 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were given since the last daily update.

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A total of 621,960 vaccine doses have been administered in the province.

There have been 297,311 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario since the pandemic began, 280,324 of which have been resolved and 6,916 were fatal.

Elgin and Oxford

Fifteen people have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials with Southwestern Public Health said Thursday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,478, of which 2,371 have resolved, an increase of three from the day before.

At least 67 people have died. The two most recent deaths were reported Feb. 20.

Thursday’s update ends a near two-week streak of days with fewer than 10 cases. In the last seven days alone, the health unit has reported several with either no new cases, or between one and two.

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As of Thursday, at least 40 cases are active in Elgin-Oxford, with 17 in Woodstock, 11 in Aylmer, four in St. Thomas, and three in Ingersoll.

Bayham, Blandford-Blenheim, Central Elgin, Tillsonburg, and West Elgin all have one active case each.

At least one person is in hospital, in intensive care.

The region is currently in the red-control tier of the province’s restrictions framework.

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No new outbreaks have been declared and none have resolved.

Three are active at long-term care and retirement homes, declared on:

  • Feb. 17 at Aylmer Retirement Residence (one resident case, one death)
  • Feb. 11 at Valleyview Nursing Home in St. Thomas (one staff case)
  • Jan. 21 at Caressant Care Retirement Home in Woodstock (54 resident, 23 staff cases, three deaths).

Meanwhile, no new school cases have been reported.

Two are active in the region. One case is located at Huron Perk Secondary School while one is at Central Public School, both in Woodstock.

Read more: Fact or Fiction: Has the public rushed into double masking?

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The health unit says a total of 490 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 426 have been in St. Thomas, 372 in Aylmer and 335 in Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, 201 cases have been in Norwich, 162 in Bayham, 115 in Ingersoll, 104 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 54 in Zorra, 50 in Blandford-Blenheim, 46 in South-West Oxford, 45 in Central Elgin, 25 in Southwold, 23 in Dutton/Dunwich, 21 in West Elgin and eight in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.5 per cent as of the week of Feb. 14, compared to 0.8 the week before.

At least 4,470 people were tested the week of Feb. 14, down slightly from 4,513 a week earlier.

Huron and Perth

Seven people have tested positive for the coronavirus, Huron Perth Public Health reported on Thursday.

The update brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,320, of which 1,253 have recovered and 49 have died.

Of the seven new cases, the health unit says five are from Perth South while one each are from St. Marys and Stratford.

It leaves 18 active cases in the region, with six located in Perth South and four in North Perth. Elsewhere, three cases are active in North Huron, two in Stratford, and one each in Goderich, South Huron and St. Marys.

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The region is currently in the orange-restrict tier of the province’s restrictions framework.

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No new outbreaks have been declared.

An outbreak at St. Marys Memorial Hospital was officially declared over Wednesday. It was tied to three patient and five staff cases.

Two seniors’ facility outbreaks remain active in the region, both at Seaforth Manor in Huron East.

One is located in the facility’s nursing home, linked to 44 resident and 25 staff cases and at least five deaths.

The other is located in its retirement home, tied to 12 resident and one staff case.

Elsewhere, the health unit says one outbreak is also active in a congregate living setting and one is active at a workplace. No further information has been released about these outbreaks.

Read more: Canada’s vaccines: How each province, territory is handling next phase of rollout

One new school case has been reported in the region.

The case is located at Jeanne Sauvé Catholic Elementary School in Stratford, according to the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.

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A previous case at Sacred Heart Catholic Elementary School in Wingham has resolved.

Elsewhere, no active school cases are being reported by the Avon-Maitland District School Board.

At least 543 cases have been reported in Perth County during the pandemic, including 344 in North Perth and 134 in Perth East.

Elsewhere, 434 cases have been reported in Huron County, including 98 in South Huron and 97 in Huron East, while at least 306 cases have been reported in Stratford and 32 in St. Marys.

Officials reported Thursday that the local test positivity rate stood at 0.7 per cent the week of Feb. 14, down from 0.9 a week earlier.

Roughly 2,862 people were tested the week of Feb. 14, down from 3,377 the week before.

Sarnia and Lambton

Seven people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another 14 have resolved, Lambton Public Health reported.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,045, of which 1,934 have resolved and 46 have died. The most recent death was reported Feb. 17.

The health unit says at least 65 cases are active in the region. No COVID-19 patients were reported in the care of Bluewater Health as of Feb. 23, the most recent update available.

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The region is currently in the red-control tier of the province’s restrictions framework.

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Two new outbreaks have been declared in the region, the health unit says.

The outbreaks are located at Good Shepherd’s Lodge, a shelter in Sarnia, and Marshall Gowland Manor, a long-term care home in Sarnia.

Both outbreaks are linked to one staff case each.

They’re among seven outbreaks active in the county, with four at seniors’ facilities, one at Bluewater Health, one at Sarnia’s jail, and one at the shelter.

The seniors’ facility outbreaks were declared on:

  • Feb. 24 at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • Feb. 19 at Twin Lakes Terrace in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • Feb. 12 at Trillium Villa in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • Feb. 10 at Country Manor Estates in Lambton Shores (two resident, one staff case)

Elsewhere, the hospital outbreak at Bluewater Health has been linked to one patient case and six staff cases, while the outbreak at Sarnia’s jail has seen more than 50 confirmed cases.

At least 47 inmates at the jail have tested positive along with five staff members.

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Two-day-delayed provincial data shows at least 21 inmate cases remained active as of Tuesday. Similar data is not available for staff cases.

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Answering your COVID-19 questions, Feb. 25 – Feb 25, 2021

One new school case was reported Thursday at North Lambton Secondary School in Forest.

The case is at least the fifth to be reported at the school so far this month. The other four cases have since resolved.

Elsewhere, two cases remain active at Lansdowne Public School in Sarnia, and one is still active at Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School, also in Sarnia.

No active cases were reported by the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.

At least 1.9 per cent of tests came back positive as of the week of Feb. 14, according to the health unit. At least 3,733 people were tested.

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— With files from The Canadian Press

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