Health officials in London and Middlesex reported 12 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, along with a death from late January that had not been previously reported.
The update brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 6,194, of which 5,913 have resolved, an increase of 10 from the day before, figures from the Middlesex-London Health Unit show.
Including the newly reported death, which involved a man in his 90s who was associated with a long-term care home, the region’s death toll stands at 183. It’s the second day in a row that MLHU has made public a previously unreported death from late January.
At least 98 cases are active in London-Middlesex.
As of Monday, the region is under orange-restrict level of Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 response framework.
Of the 11 cases reported Tuesday, all are from London, with five aged 19 or younger, four in their 20s, one in their 30s and two in their 60s.
Close contact with a confirmed case is listed as the exposure source for seven cases, while five are pending or undetermined.
At least 12 variant cases have been confirmed in the region, according to the health unit. At least four have been found to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the U.K. The others are still being investigated.
Last week, projections from the province’s science advisory group found that more infectious variants would likely make up 40 per cent of cases by the second week of March.
The region’s seven-day case average stood at 11.28 as of Tuesday, while the 14-day average was 11.57.
At least 5,400 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, 33 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.
At least 109 cases have pending location information.
Fewer than five COVID-19 inpatients were in the care of London Health Sciences Centre on Tuesday, unchanged from the day before.
The hospital had nine people in its care as of Friday. Monday marked the first time since Nov. 12 that the tally fell below five, according to LHSC’s chief medical officer.
Fewer than five patients are in critical or intensive care and fewer than five staff cases are active, also unchanged from the day before.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, officials reported no COVID-19 patients in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital.
However, the organization has four staff cases active as of Tuesday, one more than the previous update. Two active cases are outbreak-related.
An outbreak remains in place at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care in its MV2 area.
At least 358 people have been hospitalized in the region during the pandemic, including 66 in intensive care.
No new institutional outbreaks have been declared or been deemed resolved, the health unit says.
Five remain active at local seniors’ facilities.
Active outbreaks (as of March 2) at seniors' facilities, as declared on:
- Feb. 28 at Richmond Woods (facility)
- 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. 11 at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care (MV2)
Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains active at the city’s jail.
The outbreak at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre was declared on Jan. 18 and has been associated with at least 56 cases involving at least 29 staff members and 27 inmates.
Provincial data shows at least three inmate cases were listed as active as of Saturday. Similar data for staff cases was not available.
At least two new school cases were reported in London and Middlesex Tuesday, both at Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School.
The cases are the third and fourth to be reported at the school in recent days by the London District Catholic School Board.
Elsewhere, one case each is active at Northbrae Public School, Prince Charles Public School, and St. John French Immersion School, the health unit says.
In all, at least 217 school and child care cases have been reported during the pandemic.
As of Tuesday, two child care centre cases were active.
They’re located at Little Acorns Early Childhood Learning Centre – London Bridge, and one at Stoneybrook Early Childhood Learning Centre – London Bridge, the health unit said.
Vaccinations and testing
Local health officials announced Monday that more priority groups identified under Phase 1 of the province’s three-phase vaccine rollout were now eligible to get first doses.
Among them, “very high priority” health-care workers, as defined by the province, along with Indigenous adults 55 and older, and members of the community 80-years-old and older.
Appointment bookings for Indigenous adults opened on Monday, while bookings for those 80 and over opened Tuesday morning.
In a tweet, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said Tuesday that there was “tremendous response from the 80+ crowd,” adding that two weeks of appointment slots were booked up in less than two hours — more than 5,000 in all.
The phone number to book appointments was inundated with more than 200,000 calls on Tuesday the health unit said, a clear demonstration of the extreme demand in the community for vaccine doses.
Speaking on London Live with Mike Stubbs, Mackie says they received roughly 120,000 phone calls in the first 20 minutes that lines opened.
He added that MLHU will be adding more phone lines, hoping to double them, in time for Wednesday morning.
Due to ongoing uncertainty about vaccine supply, the health unit says it is not booking more than two weeks in advance, which as of Tuesday stands at March 16. Appointment bookings for March 17 will open at 8 a.m. Wednesday, but slots are expected to fill up quickly.
Bookings can be made via the local online system covidvaccinelm.ca or by calling 226-289-3560 between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. seven days a week for slots at the Western Fair District Agriplex and the Caradoc Community Centre vaccination clinics.
A full list of the groups currently eligible to receive the vaccine can be found on the health unit’s website.
MLHU is currently using a local immunization booking system. The province is set to launch its own on March 15, but local officials say the province has asked health units doing their own online bookings to continue doing so for the time being.
During Monday’s briefing, Mackie said the health unit has a roadmap to get to 10,000 vaccines administered per day, but such numbers aren’t expected to be achieved for several months yet.
“The reality is we don’t expect that any time before late spring or early summer at the earliest,” he added, noting between 1,000 and 2,000 per day is where capacity will likely stay in the short term.
In addition, only two mass vaccination clinics are opened in the region, with two more planned, including one set to open sometime this month.
Three vaccines are currently authorized for use in Canada, including those by Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Pfizer-BioNTech.
Asked whether members of the public would be able to choose their vaccine, Mackie said the health unit’s strong recommendation is to be vaccinated with whatever vaccine is offered.
“We have three very good vaccines. It’s true there’s some difference in effectiveness, but any one of those vaccines is far better than not getting vaccinated at all,” he said.
Oxford-AstraZeneca reported about 62 per cent effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 while Pifzer-BioNTech and Moderna have said the efficacy of their vaccines is about 95 per cent.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended that the Oxford-AstraZeneca not be used for people 65 and over due to concern about limited data on how it will work in older populations, even after Health Canada authorized its use last week for all adults.
Ontario’s health minister, Christine Elliott, says the province won’t administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to seniors.
Elliott says the vaccine could more easily be used in sites like correctional facilities because it does not need to be stored at the same cold temperatures as other vaccines already in use.
The region’s two main assessment centres, located at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.
Carling Heights recorded an average of 360 visits per day between Monday and Friday of last week, with a surge of 495 seen on Friday.
Oakridge Arena saw an average of 283 visits per day.
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 966 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday.
The province says 11 more people have died from the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 253 cases are in Toronto, 223 in Peel Region and 99 in York Region.
The data is based on 30,767 tests completed.
There are 284 hospitalized people in intensive care and 189 on ventilators.
The province administered 22,326 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the last report, for a total of 727,021 doses administered across the province so far.
Elgin and Oxford
Three new coronavirus cases were reported Tuesday by Southwestern Public Health.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,540, of which 2,391 have resolved, an increase of six from the day before.
At least 67 people have died during the pandemic, the health unit says. The most recent death was reported on Feb. 20.
Eighty-five cases are listed as being active in the region as of Tuesday.
Of those, 54 are in Aylmer. The town has seen a major outbreak at the Ontario Police College, with as many as 65 cases confirmed overall as of Sunday night.
Elsewhere, at least 13 cases are active in Woodstock, while 10 other municipalities have three or fewer cases.
The region moved into the orange-restrict level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework on Monday.
In an interview with 980 CFPL’s Mike Stubbs on Tuesday, the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Joyce Lock, revealed that Southwestern Public Health had received approval to use St. Thomas-Elgin Memorial Centre as a mass vaccination clinic.
Lock also noted that the health unit was set to see its first local allocation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine somewhere during the week of March 15.
One new school case has been reported in the region, according to the Thames Valley District School Board.
The case was confirmed on Monday at Central Public School in Woodstock, the board says.
It comes in addition to a separate active case at the school that was reported on Feb. 19.
The two cases are the only ones linked to schools in Elgin and Oxford.
Meantime, no new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none have been resolved.
One outbreak remains active at the Aylmer Retirement Residence. Declared on Feb. 17, the outbreak is linked to one resident case and one death, the health unit says.
The health unit says a total of 497 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 428 have been in St. Thomas, 418 in Aylmer and 336 in Tillsonburg.
Elsewhere, 202 cases have been in Norwich, 162 in Bayham, 115 in Ingersoll, 105 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 55 in Zorra, 53 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 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Huron and Perth, local health officials reported on Tuesday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,340, of which 1,268 have resolved, an increase of four from the day before.
At least 50 people have died during the pandemic. The most recent death was reported on Monday involving a resident of Seaforth Manor Nursing Home, which had been experiencing an outbreak until this week.
The update leaves at least 22 active cases in the region. The last time the region has seen an active case tally this low was at the start of November, health unit figures show.
At least seven cases are active in Stratford, four in Perth South, three in Perth East, and two in ACW. Six other municipalities have one active case each.
The region moved into the yellow-protect level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework on Monday.
On the local vaccination front, the health unit says it will be opening a public booking system “in the days ahead.”
It adds that when booking opens, the health unit will be “communicating this information widely” through providers, its own website, print, radio, local news, and social media. Clinics in its jurisdiction will begin “early to mid-March” with details available soon.
No new outbreaks have been declared and none have been resolved.
One outbreak remains active at Seaforth Manor’s retirement home, linked to 12 resident cases and one staff case.
The health unit says one outbreak remains active at an unspecified congregate living setting and one is active at a workplace.
Meantime, no new school cases were reported in the region.
One case remains active at Jeanne Sauvé Catholic Elementary School in Stratford, according to the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.
Health unit figures show at least 549 cases have been reported in Perth County during the pandemic, including 344 in North Perth and 135 in Perth East.
Elsewhere, 446 cases have been reported in Huron County, including 98 in South Huron and 98 in Huron East, while at least 313 cases have been reported in Stratford and 32 in St. Marys.
Officials reported last week 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 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Lambton County, local health officials said Tuesday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,115, of which 1,996 have resolved, an increase of five from the day before.
At least 46 people have died. The most recent death was reported on Feb. 17.
At least 73 cases are active in the county as of Tuesday, the health unit says. Two people are in hospital at Bluewater Health with COVID-19.
The region is staying in red-control of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework this week.
Local health officials provided an update on the vaccination campaign in Lambton County Tuesday.
The health unit says it vaccinated remaining retirement home residents in the county on Feb. 23 with the Pfizer vaccine, a day after 3,500 doses were received.
It adds that initial doses for all non-high-risk retirement home residents finished last week, and that high priority staff at Bluewater Health began to be immunized last week at an internal clinic.
On Feb. 25, 1,200 Moderna doses were received, which were distributed via the Mobile Immunization Team.
The team has been administering follow-up doses to the first priority groups in Lambton, including for long-term care residents, high-risk retirement home residents, and those in Indigenous Elder Care Homes — a process set to finish by March 12, the health unit says.
The county saw 3,500 new Pfizer doses arrive on Monday, doses which are set to be doled out at one of the three fixed vaccination clinics in Lambton beginning this week. The vaccines will be administered to staff and essential caregivers of LTC and retirement homes by invitation only.
The health unit notes the vaccination clinics are operating on an invitation-only basis right now, but will be open to additional priority groups in the future.
No outbreaks have been declared or resolved.
Six outbreaks remain active, including three at seniors’ facilities, one at a shelter, one at Sarnia’s jail, and one at a workplace.
The active seniors’ facility outbreaks were declared on:
- Feb. 24 at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia (three staff cases)
- Feb. 19 at Twin Lakes Terrace in Sarnia (one staff case)
- Feb. 10 at Country Manor Estates in Lambton Shores (two resident, one staff case)
The shelter outbreak is located at Good Shepherd’s Lodge in Sarnia and is tied to six cases involving three residents and three staff.
The jail outbreak, meantime, was declared on Feb. 7 and has been linked to 47 inmate and five staff cases, unchanged from the day before.
One workplace outbreak, declared Feb. 25, is also active in the region, associated with seven cases. Few details have been released.
Elsewhere, 11 school cases remain active in the region:
- Colonel Cameron Public School
- Gregory A. Hogan Catholic School (two cases)
- Holy Rosary Catholic School (two cases)
- Northern Collegiate Institute & Vocational School (two cases)
- North Lambton Secondary School
- Queen Elizabeth II Public School – Sarnia
- St. Joseph Catholic School (two cases)
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 The Canadian PressView link »