Six people have tested positive for the coronavirus in London and Middlesex while another 13 have recovered, local health officials said Saturday.
The update comes as the region learned that the province will move the region from the red-control tier to the orange-restrict tier of Ontario’s restrictions framework next week.
As of Saturday, the region’s pandemic case tally stands at 6,149, of which 5,884 have resolved and 181 people have died. The most recent death occurred on Feb. 12.
All six of Saturday’s new cases are from London.
Saturday’s update continues a trend of lower daily case counts the region has seen for roughly two weeks.
Since Feb. 13, at least seven days have seen fewer than 10 cases — tallies that have 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 one of the metrics by which the province determined the region’s fitness for shifting 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 in the local outline of Ontario’s pandemic response.
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.”
“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 variants of concern or a 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 B.1.1.7 variant, 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. 26, the organization’s last update.
SJHCL says an update will be posted when numbers change.
At the same time, three staff cases were reported active, including two 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, and no outbreaks were resolved.
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 Spruce – 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 to 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.
Global News does not update school cases over the weekend.
One 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 Montessori 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 be offered for 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 the 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 reported 1,185 cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 299,754.
“Locally, there are 331 new cases in Toronto, 220 in Peel and 119 in York Region,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.
A total of 282,315 COVID-19 cases are considered resolved, which is up by 984 and is 94.2 per cent of all confirmed cases.
Sixteen additional deaths were also reported on Saturday, bringing the provincial death toll to 6,960.
More than 59,400 additional tests were completed. Ontario has now completed a total of 10,995,968 tests and 27,989 remain under investigation.
Provincial figures showed there are 680 people hospitalized with the virus (down by three), with 276 in intensive care (down by eight), 182 of whom are on a ventilator (down by 11).
Elgin and Oxford
Seventeen people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another three cases have been listed as resolved as the region gears up for a move to orange.
The region 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 Saturday, the region’s pandemic case tally stands at 2,503, of which 2,379 have recovered and 67 people have died. The most recent death was reported on Feb. 20.
It leaves at least 57 active cases in the region.
Of those, 30 are in Aylmer, 14 are in Woodstock, four are in St. Thomas, and Bayham, Blandford-Blenheim have three. Central Elgin, Ingersoll, Tillsonburg, and West Elgin all have one or two active cases each.
At least one person is in hospital in intensive care, according to the health unit.
One outbreak remains active, located at Aylmer Retirement Residence. It involves one resident case.
Global News does not update school cases on the weekend.
Two school cases 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 493 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 427 have been in St. Thomas, 391 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, 52 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
Six people have tested positive for the coronavirus and four cases have resolved, Huron Perth Public Health reported Saturday.
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 Saturday, the region’s pandemic case tally stands at 1,330, of which 1,258 have resolved and 49 people have died.
It leaves 23 active cases in the region. Both Perth South and Stratford have five cases each, while the rest all have active cases three and under.
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 cases 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.
Global News does not update school cases over the weekend. 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, 444 cases have been reported in Huron County, including 98 in South Huron and 97 in Huron East, while at least 310 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
Twelve people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another six 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.
Saturday’s case update brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,067, of which 1,947 cases have resolved and 46 people have died. The most recent death was reported on Feb. 17.
At least 74 cases are currently active in the county. No COVID-19 patients were in the care of Bluewater Health hospital as of Friday.
Lambton does not update detailed information on the weekend. The below information was last updated 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 Ryan Rocca, Jacquelyn LeBel and The Canadian PressView link »