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Coronavirus: 1 death, 27 cases in London-Middlesex as health officials note creeping case rates

A healthcare worker prepares to administer a Pfizer/BioNTEch coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at The Michener Institute, in Toronto, Ontario on December 14, 2020. CARLOS OSORIO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Jump to: HospitalizationsOutbreaksSchoolsVaccinations and TestingOntarioElgin and OxfordHuron and PerthSarnia and Lambton


One person has died and 27 others have tested positive, health officials in London and Middlesex reported Monday in a COVID-19 update.

The update brings the region’s pandemic case total to 6,310, of which 5,978 have recovered, an increase of 16 from the day before.

At least 185 people have died, including at least two so far this month. The death reported Monday involved a woman in her 70s who was not associated with a long-term care or retirement home.

It leaves at least 147 active cases in the region, the health unit says.

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The region is currently in the orange-restrict level of the province’s COVID-19 response framework.

More detailed information regarding the 27 new cases was not immediately available.

Read more: Federal government rules out March budget as it evaluates lockdowns, new variants

During Monday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said the recent higher case increases, coupled with the more than 1,600 cases reported across Ontario on Sunday, suggest counts locally and provincially may be beginning to climb again toward a potential third wave.

“We know that our pattern tends to follow the provincial pattern… That said, we aren’t seeing the huge spikes that we did in December or January… we’re well off our peaks,” he said.

“Really, it’s a race now. Can we get enough vaccine into arms so that we really are able to weather… what seems to be coming, which is a third wave, without having an excess number of deaths?”

Roughly two-thirds of recent cases, he says, have been linked to close contact with a positive case.

“We’re really seeing the number of contacts-per-case go up, which is a sign that people are gathering more indoors,” he said.

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“Those are close contacts where people are unmasked, and that’s exactly the sort of situation where we expect spread to occur. So it’s once again a reminder to avoid close contact indoors without a mask.”

It’s a reminder that comes amid growing concern about the local impact of more contagious variants, which have been appearing more in the region’s caseload, including in a recent case linked to Saunders Secondary School.

As of Monday, the total number of screened variant positive cases in London-Middlesex stands at 21, two more than Sunday and nine more since the health unit’s previous briefing on Thursday. Four have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.

Mackie said variants of concern were factoring in 20 to 30 per cent of positive cases seen in the region over the past week or so, a notable increase from the zero to five per cent range seen just a few weeks ago. The cases, he says, have not been linked to travel and have been locally acquired.

“That’s definitely a significant development, and is part of why we’re seeing our case counts climb again,” he said.

Read more: All 1st doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in remote northern Ontario First Nations

The region’s seven-day case average stood at 20.14 as of Monday, up from 15.42 on Friday. The 14-day average was 16.85 up from 13.35.

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At least 5,505 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 248 have been in Middlesex Centre.

Elsewhere, 208 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 96 in Thames Centre, 54 in Lucan Biddulph, 38 in Southwest Middlesex, 33 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.

At least 112 cases have pending location information.

Hospitalizations

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital at LHSC stood at nine as of Monday, up from fewer than five on Friday.

The organization says the number of patients in critical or intensive care remained unchanged at fewer than five.

An update was not immediately available as to the number of active staff cases at LHSC, which stood at fewer than five on Friday.

At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meantime, no active patient or staff cases were reported at any of the organization’s facilities.

At least 364 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 67 who have needed intensive care.

Institutional outbreaks

No new institutional outbreaks were declared or resolved as of Monday.

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Six remain active in the region at local seniors’ facilities, according to the health unit.

Read more: Coronavirus vaccinations in Ontario long-term care homes saved hundreds of lives: report

One was declared over the weekend at Fox Hollow Retirement Residence and one was declared over at Dearness Home.

Active outbreaks (as of March 5) at seniors' facilities, as declared on:

  • March 6 at Fox Hollow Retirement Residence (2nd, 3rd, 4th floors)
  • March 5 at Meadow Park Care Centre (Pink Unit)
  • March 4 at Strathmere Lodge (Bear Creek, Sydenham)
  • Feb. 28 at Richmond Woods (facility)
  • Feb. 24 at Chartwell Royalcliffe Retirement Residence (facility)
  • Feb. 13 at Dearness Home (3 East)

There have been at least 107 institutional outbreaks since the pandemic began, with at least 80 at local seniors’ facilities. They’ve been linked to at least 780 of the region’s cases and 106 of its deaths.

A non-institutional outbreak remains active at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

The outbreak was declared Jan. 18 and has been associated with at least 29 staff cases and 27 inmate cases. Three inmate cases were listed as active as of Wednesday.

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Schools

At least six new school cases were reported late Sunday or Monday in London and Middlesex, while a variant of concern has been reported involving a previous case at Saunders Secondary School.

The Thames Valley District School Board said late Sunday that one case each had been confirmed at Bonaventure Public School and Hillcrest Public School in London and at Ekcoe Central Public School in Glencoe and East Williams Memorial Public School in Ailsa Craig.

Meantime, one new case was reported at John Paul II Secondary School by the London District Catholic School Board, and one case reported at St. Mark Catholic School.

The case at Bonaventure is the fourth to be seen at the school recently. An outbreak was declared on March 5. Elsewhere, outbreaks remain active at Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School, which has four active cases, and at St. Mark Catholic School which has two.

The health unit says at least 14 school cases are active in the region. A list can be found on the health unit website. The tally did not appear to include the new John Paul II case as of yet.

Read more: Coronavirus: Variant of concern identified in positive test from Saunders Secondary School student

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The health unit reported Sunday that a case at Saunders Secondary School involved a more contagious variant of concern.

Details regarding what specific variant are still being determined. The health unit says it has indicated that no additional classes will be cancelled and the school will remain open.

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“There’s no change in the management of this situation. The steps we’ve taken to exclude the students, to make sure that they’re tested, to make sure that we’re monitoring the school closely for any further spread, are the exact same steps, regardless of whether the COVID case is a variant or not,” Mackie said, adding the primary reason for alerting the school population and public was for transparency.

“We have no concern that this is something that has spread through the school community, in fact, almost all of what we’re seeing in schools mirrors what we saw in the fall. Schools are a reflection of the spread in the community,” he said to a follow-up question.

“There is not much spread, if at all, in schools. These are situations where, because of all the testing that is happening of students with symptoms, we are identifying cases that were primarily acquired elsewhere.”

At least 232 cases involving schools and child care centres have been reported during the pandemic.

One child care centre case was active Monday, located at Stoneybrook Early Childhood Learning Centre – London Bridge.

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In the post-secondary world, an outbreak remains active at Western University’s Essex Hall Residence, tied to at least seven cases.

Vaccinations and Testing

The local vaccination campaign continues to trundle on, with bookings for those 80 and older beginning to slow, according to health officials, a sign that the majority of those 80 and older interested in being vaccinated have booked a spot.

Roughly 2,000 to 3,000 people aged 80 and older have received the vaccine since Thursday, on top of the thousands who received a shot through the local long-term care and retirement home immunization blitz that began earlier this year, Mackie said Monday.

“In terms of bookings, we have booked or vaccinated somewhere in the range of 20,000 people over 80, and that will be a huge dent in terms of getting that population vaccinated — there are roughly 30,000 people of that age group in our catchment area,” he said, adding the health unit is encouraging anyone 80 or older who hasn’t gotten a vaccine to do so.

Read more: Pfizer Canada president worries conflicting vaccine advice could fuel hesitancy

Mackie says the province recently clarified eligibility for those 80 and older, saying that eligibility is based on birth year and not birth date, meaning anyone born in 1941 or prior can be vaccinated, even if they aren’t technically 80 yet.

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“We are also expanding our eligibility within the ‘very high priority‘ health-care workers at the moment, and sometime over the next two to three weeks, we hope to be able to add additional age groups into the eligibility queue,” he said.

Health officials are only booking vaccination appointments two weeks out given ongoing uncertainty about vaccine supply locally. The two clinics are operating at the Western Fair District Agriplex in London and at Caradoc Community Centre in Mount Brydges. Two more are set to open, but it’s not clear when.

“We do hope to have at least one, if not both of those, open by the end of this month. We’re still working on finalizing those opening dates,” Mackie said.

“We won’t necessarily have dramatic increases of vaccine supply by the end of the month, but we do plan to be ready for when those vaccine supplies increase dramatically, which we believe will occur in April.”

Mackie said the health unit had been made aware of an incident in which people went out to celebrate receiving a vaccine over the weekend, despite it taking at least 12 to 14 days for immunity to develop.

“If people want to go out for a meal to celebrate after receiving the vaccine, that’s one thing. But they should not do so in the belief that they’re instantly protected because of having received the vaccine that same day,” he said.

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Doctor answers your COVID-19 questions about lifting restrictions, vaccines and variants – Mar 8, 2021

Canada is set to receive 910,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week as pharmaceutical companies ramp up deliveries to make good on their contractual obligations by the end of the month.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the country will receive nearly 445,000 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech for the second week running as the companies settle into a rhythm following a lengthy lull in January and much of February.

The remaining 465,000 shots are expected from Moderna, as the pharmaceutical firm steps up its delivery schedule from once every three weeks to once every two.

Johnson & Johnson, whose single-dose vaccine received Health Canada approval on Friday, is the fourth inoculation to receive the green light from the regulator.

Clinical trials found it to be 66 per cent effective against moderate COVID-19-related illness, 85 per cent effective against severe illness, and 100 per cent effective against death.

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Nearly 1.7 million Canadians have now received at least one dose, and the pace of vaccinations has accelerated in the last two weeks. In the past seven days alone, more than 457,000 people were vaccinated, 2 1/2 times as many as in a similar period two weeks before.

Read more: No masks, no distancing: U.S. CDC says fully vaccinated people can gather indoors

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 0.7 per cent as of the week of Feb. 21, slightly down from 0.8 per cent the week before.

At least 10,158 people were tested the week of Feb. 21, more than the 9,730 a week earlier.

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Ontario

Ontario is reporting 1,631 new cases of COVID-19 today, but the government says the case count is higher than expected due to a “data catch-up process” in its system.

The province also recorded 10 additional deaths linked to the virus

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 568 of the new cases are in Toronto, 322 are in Peel Region, and 119 are in York Region.

Ontario says 994 more cases were resolved since the last daily update.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 1,600 new coronavirus cases, 10 more deaths

The numbers come as a stay-at-home order in Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay lifts today, loosening pandemic restrictions imposed nearly two months ago.

The three regions were the last ones still under the order, and are transitioning back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework.

Toronto and Peel entered the strictest “grey lockdown” category, something local public health officials asked for in both regions.

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Elgin and Oxford

Eight new cases were reported Monday by officials with Southwestern Public Health.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,577, of which 2,449 have resolved, an increase of 19 from the day before.

At least 67 deaths have been reported, most recently on Feb. 20.

The region has at least 61 active cases as of Monday, with 29 in Aylmer, 14 in Woodstock, and fewer than five each in eight other municipalities.

The Aylmer cases have been driven by an outbreak at Ontario Police College, which had seen at least 94 cases as of late last week.

The region has seen two screened positive cases involving a variant of concern. Which variant is involved is still being determined.

The region is in the orange-restrict level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.

Read more: Proof of pre-existing illness not required for COVID-19 shot, Ontario health minister says

The health unit announced Monday that vaccination bookings are set to open at 8 a.m. Tuesday for eligible residents in Elgin and Oxford counties and the City of St. Thomas.

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Officials say appointments will be available at the region’s new immunization sites, located at Goff Hall in Woodstock and the St. Thomas-Elgin Memorial Arena in St. Thomas, as well as available locations in London-Middlesex.

Eligible residents may book an appointment via covidvaccinelm.ca or by calling 226-289-3560, Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Slots opening Tuesday will be for the week of March 15, the health unit says.

“There will be enough vaccine for everyone. No one will be left behind,” said Jaime Fletcher, program manager of the COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force, in a statement released by SWPH.

“If you do not get an appointment on the first day, or cannot get through by phone, don’t panic. You will have an opportunity to try again very shortly. More appointments will become available regularly.”

Officials ask people arrive on time for their appointment to avoid lines, and bring a completed consent form to avoid delays.

More information on the local vaccination campaign can be found on the health unit’s website.

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No new outbreaks have been declared and no outbreaks have been resolved.

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Two are active, located at Bethany Care Home in Norwich and Maples Retirement Home in Tavistock. Both are linked to one resident case each.

Meantime, no school cases are listed as active in the region, according to the Thames Valley District and London District Catholic school boards.

The health unit says a total of 507 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 433 have been in St. Thomas, 431 in Aylmer and 336 in Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, 203 cases have been in Norwich, 162 in Bayham, 115 in Ingersoll, 108 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 57 in Zorra, 57 in Blandford-Blenheim, 46 in South-West Oxford, 45 in Central Elgin, 25 in Southwold, 23 in Dutton/Dunwich, 20 in West Elgin and eight in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.6 per cent as of the week of Feb. 21, up from 0.5 per cent the week before and 0.8 the week before that.

At least 4,773 people were tested the week of Feb. 21, up slightly from 4,470 a week earlier.

Huron and Perth

Eleven new coronavirus cases were reported Monday by Huron Perth Public Health.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,364, of which 1,290 have resolved, an increase of 11 from the previous update.

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At least 50 deaths have been reported during the pandemic, most recently on March 1.

The health unit says seven of Monday’s cases were reported in Stratford, two in North Perth, and one each in North Huron and South Huron.

At least 24 cases are listed as active in Huron-Perth. At least 16 of them are in Stratford.

The region is in the yellow-protect level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.

Information on the local vaccination campaign can be found on the health unit’s website.

Read more: Toronto to open 3 mass vaccination clinics 2 weeks early due to increase in supply

No institutional outbreaks are active in Huron and Perth. The region’s last active outbreak ended on Saturday.

The outbreak, declared Jan. 31 at Seaforth Manor Retirement Home in Huron East, was linked to 12 resident cases and one staff case.

An outbreak at the facility’s nursing home from Jan. 17 to Feb. 28 saw 44 resident and 25 staff cases and at least five deaths.

The health unit says one outbreak is still active at an unnamed congregate living setting in the region. No other information has been released.

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Meantime, no new school cases have been reported.

Three remain active in the region, all in Perth County and all under the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.

One case is active each at Jeanne Sauvé Catholic Elementary School, St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School, and St. Michael Catholic Secondary School, all in Stratford.

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Health unit figures show at least 553 cases have been reported in Perth County during the pandemic, including 348 in North Perth and 138 in Perth East.

Elsewhere, 450 cases have been reported in Huron County, including 100 in South Huron and 98 in Huron East, while at least 329 cases have been reported in Stratford and 32 in St. Marys.

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Officials reported last week that the local test positivity rate stood at 0.7 per cent the week of Feb. 21, the same as the week before.

Roughly 3,266 people were tested the week of Feb. 21, up from 2,899 a week earlier.

Sarnia and Lambton

At least 22 new coronavirus cases were reported Monday by officials with Lambton Public Health.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,254, of which 2,053 have resolved, an increase of 12 form the day before.

At least 46 deaths have been reported, most recently on Feb. 17.

With the update leaves 155 active cases in the county. At least three COVID-19 patients were listed in the care of Bluewater Health hospital.

The region remains in red-control of the province’s COVID-19 response framework.

Information on the local vaccination campaign can be found on the health unit’s website.

Read more: Italy’s coronavirus death toll surpasses 100,000

One new outbreak has been declared in the county.

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The outbreak, declared Sunday, is located at Lambton Meadowview Villa in Petrolia, linked to one staff case.

It’s the fifth outbreak to be declared at the facility during the pandemic, and the third this year. The other outbreaks this year, from Jan. 1 to Jan. 13 and from Jan. 28 to Feb. 11, were linked to a total of three staff cases.

The region has six active outbreaks, including two at seniors’ facilities, one at a local school, one at a local shelter, one at Sarnia’s jail, and one at a workplace.

The school outbreak was declared Saturday at Queen Elizabeth II Public School in Sarnia and is tied to two cases.

The shelter outbreak, at Good Shepherd’s Lodge, is linked to six resident and three staff cases, while the outbreak at Sarnia’s jail is associated with 47 inmate and five staff cases.

The workplace outbreak is linked to eight cases. Further information has not been released.

Several new school cases were reported Monday by the Lambton-Kent District School Board, including at Brooke Central, Errol Road, Hanna Memorial, Lansdowne, and P.E. McGibbon public schools, London Road School, and Great Lakes Secondary School.

One new case was also reported at St. Peter Canisius Catholic School, which now has four active cases.

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At least 28 school cases are active in the county as of Monday, according to the Lambton-Kent and St. Clair Catholic district school boards.

Full lists can be found on their respective websites, linked above.

The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 1.7 per cent the week of Feb. 21, down from 1.9 the week before.

At least 4,367 people were tested the week of Feb. 21, up from 3,797 the week before.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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