Eleven people have tested positive for the coronavirus in London and Middlesex while another 12 have recovered, local health officials said Friday.
The update comes as the region learned from the province that it will see restrictions loosened slightly next week when it moves from the red-control tier to the orange-restrict tier of Ontario’s restrictions framework.
As of Friday, the region’s pandemic case tally stands at 6,143, of which 5,871 have resolved and 181 have died. The most recent death occurred on Feb. 12.
All 11 of Friday’s new cases are from London, with one aged 19 or younger, four in their 20s, one in their 40s, three in their 50s, and two in their 30s. No cases were reported involving anyone in their 30s or over the age of 70.
Exposure source data is pending or undetermined for seven cases, while two cases each are listed as being due to close contact and to outbreak.
Friday’s update continues a trend of lower daily case counts the region has seen for roughly two weeks.
Since Feb. 13, at least six days have seen fewer than 10 cases — tallies that haven not been regularly recorded since late October and early November, health unit figures show. At least two dates, Feb. 15 and 21, recorded five cases.
The low case rate is likely one of the metrics by which the province determined the region’s fitness for being shuffled to a looser restrictions tier.
Effective Monday, London and Middlesex will be moved out of the red-control level to orange-restrict, resulting in a loosening of restrictions when it comes to indoor and outdoor gatherings and businesses, and the permitted reopening of cinemas and performing arts facilities to spectators.
Under orange, certain organized public events and social gatherings held in private residences, backyards, or parks, such as functions, parties, dinners, barbeques and wedding receptions, are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained.
For organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities, the indoor limit is 50 while the outdoor limit is 100, where physical distancing can be maintained.
Under red-control, all organized public events and social gatherings were limited to five people indoors and 25 outdoors.
Further details on how the change impacts different sectors can be found here.
During a media briefing on Friday, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said the shift to orange-restrict reflects the declining case rates in London-Middlesex.
“We’re another day without deaths, so we’re up to two full weeks with no new deaths in this community, which is a tremendous accomplishment,” Mackie said.
“It’s something we absolutely should be celebrating as a community. And that celebration should not be in large numbers indoors. Let’s make sure we keep it as safe as possible.”
Mackie said he spoke with the province’s chief medical officer of health on Tuesday, noting that the ultimate decision regarding restriction levels lies with Ontario’s cabinet.
“There certainly is a case to be made to move us to orange, and there’s a case to be made to move us to yellow, and we both saw both of those cases being viable,” Mackie said.
“Certainly, having us at the orange level, if we do see variants of concern growing here, means that we are in a better position to try and minimize the impact of a variants of concern third wave.”
Mackie revealed on Thursday that two additional coronavirus variant cases had been confirmed in the region this week.
At least eight have been confirmed so far since mid-January, including four involving the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. Four remain under investigation.
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.
Projections show hospitalizations will likely rise as variants spread, and intensive care capacity will be strained over the next month.
Canada’s top doctor Theresa Tam said Friday the country had 964 reported cases of the variant first detected in the U.K., up from 429 reported two weeks ago. There were also 44 cases of the variant first discovered in South Africa, and two cases of the version first found in Brazil.
“The risk of rapid re-acceleration remains,” Tam said. “At the same time new variants continue to emerge … and can become predominant.”
The region’s seven-day case average stood at 11.14 as of Friday while the 14-day average was 12.21.
At least 5,351 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 108 cases have pending location information.
The number of COVID-19 inpatients hospitalized at London Health Sciences Centre remained unchanged Friday at nine.
The number of patients in critical or intensive care also remained unchanged at fewer than five, as did the number of active staff cases at LHSC, which also stands at fewer than five.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, no COVID-19 patients were listed in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital as of Feb. 23, the organization’s last update.
SJHCL says an update will be posted when numbers change.
At the same time, four staff cases were reported active, including three linked to outbreaks. Two outbreaks remain active at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care and Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building.
One outbreak-related case was reported at Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building.
At least 356 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, the health unit says. Sixty-six have needed intensive care.
No new outbreaks were declared, however one has resolved.
The health unit says the outbreak, declared on Jan. 2 on the fifth floor of Chelsey Park’s long-term care home, was declared resolved as of Thursday.
It leaves five institutional outbreaks active at local seniors’ facilities.
Active outbreaks (as of Feb. 26) 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)
Long-term care and retirement homes have been linked to at least 770 of the region’s cases, with 354 residents and 416 staff infected. At least 104 deaths have been reported at the facilities.
Elsewhere, several non-institutional outbreaks are also active in the region, including at the city’s jail.
The outbreak at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, declared on Jan. 18, has been linked to at least 55 cases, according the health unit.
Of those, 29 are staff and 26 are inmates.
Provincial data shows three inmate cases were active at the jail as of earlier this week.
On Thursday, a spokesperson with the Ministry of the Solicitor General said three staff cases were still active at the facility.
Elsewhere, one school outbreak is active at St. Anne’s Catholic School. An outbreak is also active at Pinetree Montessori School.
One new school case has been reported, the health unit says.
The active case involves Prince Charles Public School on Wavell Street in London. Few other details have been released.
It’s among just three active school cases in London-Middlesex. The other two both involve Northbrae Public School.
One outbreak remains active at a school in the region, located at St. Anne’s Catholic School.
The health unit says at least 210 cases have been reported involving schools and child care centres during the pandemic.
At local child care centres, two cases remain active, both in London.
One is located at Mrs. B’s All My Little People while the other is at Pinetree Montessory School.
An outbreak is also active at Pinetree, declared on Feb. 16.
Vaccinations and Testing
On Thursday, the region’s medical officer of health, 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.
He added that vaccinations will soon continue into health care workers listed as “very high priority” by the province, and notes doses are anticipated to move into the over-80 crowd in mid-March.
“Maybe sort of early-mid-March rather than later-mid-March.” More information is expected next week.
Mackie said the MLHU has plans in place to notify seniors, including support from local media and collaboration with primary care providers and other health care providers who would be able to easily identify those 80 and older.
The health unit is also preparing for what it expects to be a “flood of calls” when the time comes for vaccination appointment bookings.
The province’s timeline is to have Ontarians aged 80 and older begin to be vaccinated in the third week of March, decreasing in five-year age increments until 60-year-olds get the shot in July.
An online booking system and service desk will become available on March 15, but local health officials have been utilizing a booking system in partnership with LHSC.
Mackie says the provincial system won’t necessarily be in place in all health units at the same time, and that use of the system won’t be forced.
“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,” he said.
The city’s two mass vaccination clinics remain open, located at the Western Fair District Agriplex and the Caradoc Community Centre in Mount Brydges.
Two more facilities are planned for the North London Optimist Community Centre and at ice pad A of the Earl Nichols Recreation Centre.
The hope is to have one of the facilities opened in March, but Mackie stresses those plans are dependent on vaccine supply.
Though it was announced Thursday that Pfizer will send more than 3.7 million doses to Canada between March 1 and April 15, and Moderna 1.3 million in March, Mackie says it’s still unclear what that means locally.
“As soon as we understand that, we’ll be able to make those decisions,” Mackie said.
On Friday news emerged that Health Canada had approved use of the vaccine from AstraZeneca.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced another partnership with an India-based institute that will deliver two million additional doses of the newly authorized vaccine to Canadians by the spring.
Canada will receive two million doses of the CoviShield vaccine, which is the same as AstraZeneca’s product, through an agreement with Mississauga, Ont.’s Verity Pharmaceuticals and the Serum Institute of India.
Trudeau says the first shipment of half a million of CoviShield doses will arrive by March.
The region’s two main assessment centres, located at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.
Carling Heights has recorded between 281 and 373 visits per day since Monday, while Oakridge Arena has seen between 185 and 345.
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.
At least 9,730 people were tested the week of Feb. 14 compared to 10,536 a week earlier.
Ontario is reporting 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 today and 28 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 362 new cases in Toronto, 274 in Peel Region and 104 in York Region.
The province reports that 1,007 cases were resolved since Thursday’s update.
More than 64,000 tests were completed in Ontario since the last daily update.
Ontario says that 21,805 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were given in the province since Thursday’s report.
A total of 643,765 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province so far.
There have been 298,569 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario since the pandemic began. Of those, 281,331 have been resolved and 6,944 have led to death.
Elgin and Oxford
Eight people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another five cases have been listed as resolved as the region gears up for a move
The region also learned that it will be moved out of red-control and into the orange-restrict level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework effective Monday.
As of Friday, the region’s pandemic case tally stands at 2,486, of which 2,376 have recovered and 67 have died. The most recent death was reported on Feb. 20.
It leaves at least 43 active cases in the region.
Of those, 16 are in Aylmer, 14 are in Woodstock, and five are in St. Thomas. Bayham, Blandford-Blenheim, Central Elgin, Ingersoll, Tillsonburg, and West Elgin all have one or two active cases each.
At least one person is in hospital and is in intensive care, according to the health unit.
Two outbreaks have been declared over in the region, including one of the region’s most severe.
The outbreaks had been active at Caressant Care Retirement Home in Woodstock and at Valleyview Nursing Home in St. Thomas.
The Caressant Care outbreak was linked to at least 54 resident cases and 23 staff cases along with at least three deaths.
The Valleyview outbreak was linked to just one staff case.
One outbreak remains active, located at Aylmer Retirement Residence. It involves one resident case.
Meanwhile, no new school cases have been reported.
Two are active in the region. One case is located at Huron Park Secondary School while one is at Central Public School, both in Woodstock.
The health unit says a total of 491 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 427 have been in St. Thomas, 377 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, 51 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
Four people have tested positive for the coronavirus and one case has resolved, Huron Perth Public Health reported.
At the same time, the region learned it will be moving Monday from orange-restrict to yellow-protect in the province’s COVID-19 response framework.
As of Friday, the region’s pandemic case tally stands at 1,324, of which 1,254 have resolved and 49 have died.
It leaves 21 active cases in the region. At least six are in Perth South and four are in North Huron.
No new outbreaks have been declared and none have been resolved.
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.
Meantime, no new school cases have been reported either.
One case is active in the region, located at Jeanne Sauvé Catholic Elementary School in Stratford, according to the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.
Health unit figures show at least 544 cases have been reported in Perth County during the pandemic, including 344 in North Perth and 135 in Perth East.
Elsewhere, 440 cases have been reported in Huron County, including 98 in South Huron and 97 in Huron East, while at least 308 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
Ten people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another seven cases have resolved, Lambton Public Health reported.
The region learned Friday that it will be staying put in the red-control level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework as of next week.
Friday’s case update brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,055, of which 1,941 cases have resolved and 46 people have died. The most recent death was reported on Feb. 17.
At least 68 cases are currently active in the county. No COVID-19 patients were in the care of Bluewater Health hospital as of Friday.
One new outbreak has been declared.
The outbreak, located at an unspecified workplace, is linked to three cases.
Elsewhere, seven other outbreaks remain active, including four at seniors’ facilities, one at Bluewater Health, one at Sarnia’s jail, and one at a shelter in Sarnia.
According to the health unit, the active 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)
The outbreak at Sarnia’s jail has been linked to 47 inmate and five staff cases. At least 22 inmate cases remain active there. Similar information for staff cases was not immediately available.
Meantime, the outbreak at Good Shepherd’s Lodge, a shelter in Sarnia, is linked to one staff case, while the outbreak at Bluewater Health hospital is linked to one patient and six staff cases.
Two new school cases have been reported, both at Holy Rosary Catholic School in Wyoming, Ont., according to the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.
The cases join four others that are currently active, including two at Lansdowne Public School and one each at North Lambton Secondary School in Forest and Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School in Sarnia.
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.
— With files from Jacquelyn LeBel and The Canadian PressView link »