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COVID-19: 28 cases in London-Middlesex; residents aged 75-79 may soon be vaccine eligible: officials

The North London Optimist Community Centre vaccination clinic in London, Ont., on March 17, 2021. Sawyer Bogdan/980 CFPL

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


Twenty-eight new coronavirus cases have been reported in London and Middlesex, local health officials reported on Thursday.

At the same time, two previously reported school cases have screened variant positive, and people aged 75 to 79 may become eligible for the vaccine as early as next Thursday, according to the health unit.

The London-Middlesex pandemic case tally stands at 6,506, of which 6,156 have resolved, 22 more than the day before. At least 185 deaths have been reported, most recently on March 8.

At least 165 cases are considered active in London and Middlesex, health unit figures show.

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London-Middlesex remains in the orange-restrict level of the province’s COVID-19 response framework, a level that is not anticipated to change as of next week, health officials say.

Read more: U.S. to send 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada

Of the 28 new cases reported Thursday, 24 are from London, the health unit says. Three are listed as being from “Middlesex County,” but no further details are provided. One case is pending location data.

Those infected are all under the age of 60, with people under 40 making up 21 cases. Two are aged 19 or younger, eight are in their 20s, 11 are in their 30s, five are in their 40s, and two are in their 50s.

Close contact is listed as the exposure source for 12 cases, while 12 others are pending information. Four have no known link.

The number of screened variant positive cases in the region now stands at 41, according to Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, who issued the updated tally during Thursday’s media briefing. At least four have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.

Local health officials have said more contagious variants are becoming an important driver of new COVID-19 numbers, and are a main concern when it comes to an anticipated third wave. Such a third wave is already underway at the provincial level, according to the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

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At the same time, a community outbreak, declared last week and linked to post-secondary gatherings largely involving Western University students, has risen to a total of 49 from 45 on Monday and 22 when the outbreak was first announced a week ago.

The outbreak was declared after multiple people contracted the virus after attending one or more of at least 10 post-secondary gatherings between March 2 and 6.

Most of the additional cases since then have come through testing of close contacts of those initially infected.

“We’re seeing not a lot of evidence of spread once the issue was detected and control measures put in place,” Mackie said.

Read more: Most Londoners followed COVID-19 guidelines on St. Patrick’s Day: police

Concerns over the outbreak, increasing variant cases, and an anticipated local third wave had local city and health officials urging Londoners to stay home for St. Patrick’s Day on Wednesday — pleas that appear to have been heeded.

“The vast majority of Londoners celebrated responsibly, whether at home or in a local pub or restaurant,” said Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan during Thursday’s briefing.

That being said, there were a “few isolated instances of troubling behaviour,” including some that were being investigated by London police, he said. It also won’t be clear for many days yet whether St. Patrick’s Day has any impact on the region’s COVID case numbers.

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“I can say for those individuals who chose to host or attend gatherings that exceeded our current restrictions, that behaviour puts not only you and your friends at risk, but also your family and the community, as COVID-19 is not only present in London, but case councils seem to be tracking slightly higher,” Morgan said.

“We just had a very, very mild Wednesday evening compared to previous St. Patrick’s Days, so really huge credit to our community,” Mackie said later in the briefing.

People took the COVID issues seriously and we didn’t we didn’t see an enormous amount of problematic activity.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Patios busy, student neighbourhoods quiet on St. Patrick’s Day in London, Ont.

The region’s seven-day case average stood at 20.0 as of Thursday, while the 14-day average stood at 19.71.

At least 5,678 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 251 have been in Middlesex Centre.

Elsewhere, 211 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 95 in Thames Centre, 59 in Lucan Biddulph, 41 in Southwest Middlesex, 36 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.

At least 119 cases have pending location information.

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Hospitalizations

The number of COVID-19 inpatients has risen again.

After dropping from 10 on Tuesday to five or fewer on Wednesday, London Health Sciences Centre says the number of COVID-19 inpatients in its care stands at nine as of Thursday.

The number of COVID-19 inpatients in critical or intensive care remains unchanged at five or fewer.

The number of staff cases active at LHSC has risen by two to eight as of Thursday, the organization says.

LHSC has one active outbreak at University Hospital, tied to fewer than five patient and five staff cases.

Read more: City of London responds to ‘aggressive ticketing’ complaints from downtown business with short-term parking

Elsewhere, St. Joseph’s Health Care London reported no COVID-19 cases among patients or staff at any of its facilities. The tally has not changed since March 8.

The health unit says 370 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 67 who have needed intensive care.

Institutional outbreaks

No new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none have resolved.

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As of Thursday, six institutional outbreaks remain active in the region, with five at seniors’ facilities and one at University Hospital.

Active institutional outbreaks (as of March 18), as declared on:

  • March 12 at Dearness Home (2E/2W)
  • March 12 at University Hospital (U4-Medicine 1/4IP General Medicine)
  • March 11 at Glendale Crossing (Brighton)
  • March 6 at Fox Hollow Retirement Residence (second, third, fourth floors)
  • Feb. 28 at Richmond Woods (facility)
  • Feb. 24 at Chartwell Royalcliffe Retirement Residence (facility)

The University Hospital outbreak, located in U4-Medicine 1, also known as 4IP General Medicine, has been linked to fewer than five patient and five staff cases and no deaths.

The same unit saw a significant outbreak from Nov. 10 to Dec. 29, 2020 that was later linked to at least five other outbreaks at the hospital.

Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains active at the city’s jail.

The number of active inmate cases within Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre rose by one on Tuesday to two, provincial data shows. Similar data was not immediately available for staff cases.

The jail has recorded at least 29 inmate and 29 staff cases since an outbreak was declared there on Jan. 18.

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Schools

At least two new school cases have been reported in the London-Middlesex region, at Eckoe Central Public School and St. George Catholic School.

At the same time, the Thames Valley District School Board says two previously reported cases have screened variant positive.

The two cases had been reported previously at Sir Arthur Currie Public School and Strathroy District Collegiate Institute, the board said late Wednesday.

“Staff and classroom students will continue their period of self-isolation and no new health and safety measures have been requested by public health,” the board said in a statement.

“Thames Valley wishes to assure the community that all staff, parents and guardians of the school community were immediately notified. The schools will remain open.”

Read more: Thames Valley confirms COVID-19 variant cases at local schools

A total of 11 school cases are active in the region as of Thursday. A list can be found on the health unit’s website. Outbreak declarations remain active at two schools, Bonaventure Meadows Public School, declared March 5, and Wilberforce Public School, declared March 15.

MLHU says a total of at least 218 cases have been reported at local elementary and secondary schools.

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At least 26 cases have been reported at local child care/early years facilities, according the health unit. One case is listed as being active at a private child care setting in Lucan Biddulph.

In the post-secondary world, meantime, an outbreak is listed as active at Western University’s Essex Hall residence.

Vaccinations and Testing

More local residents may become vaccine eligible as early as next week, the region’s medical officer of health said Thursday.

During Thursday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie said the health unit may be able to open up vaccinations to those aged 75 to 79 as early as Thursday, March 25.

“We’re still working through details with partners, including the Ministry of Health and our partner health units. We absolutely want to work in lockstep with them,” Mackie said.

“We are starting to see some availability in the appointments further out that we believe makes it time to open up to that population.”

Confirmation will come on Monday during the health unit’s scheduled media briefing, he said.

Those aged 75 to 79 were being encouraged to visit the local vaccination booking website, covidvaccinelm.ca, to become acquainted with it ahead of time.

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“We will be opening phone appointments at some point, but we will go to online appointments first. It’s a much more efficient system, it takes people minutes instead of many, many dozens of calls to try and get through on the phone line,” Mackie said.

The health unit’s target is still to have first doses into the arms of all who wants one by the end of June, pending vaccine supply, Mackie says.

Read more: ‘Things are really going to change’: 3rd COVID-19 vaccine clinic opens in Middlesex-London

The news comes the same day the region’s third mass vaccination clinic officially opened its doors to the public at the North London Optimist Community Centre. Immunizations will start at around 400 per day with the goal of ramping up to a maximum capacity of 2,000 per day.

It also comes the same day health officials anticipate administering the region’s 60,000th dose.

“About 12,000 of those are second doses, so we have something approaching 50,000 people who have been vaccinated with at least one dose,” Mackie said.

Roughly 11,434 jabs were given out between March 8 and March 14. Mackie stated that the health unit had tried over the last week or two to get “as much of what was in the fridge or freezer into arms as quickly as possible,” resulting in an boost in vaccination numbers. About 9,735 were administered between March 1 and 7 and 6,615 between Feb. 22 and 28.

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Earlier in the day it was learned that the U.S. was working on a plan to lend 1.5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Canada and an additional 2.5 million doses to Mexico.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the effort Thursday, but emphasized that the details have not been fully worked out.

The U.S. currently has 7 million “releasable” doses of the vaccine, which has yet to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration, she said.

The loan would be in lieu of a future exchange of doses from Canada and Mexico, Psaki said — either of the AstraZeneca vaccine or a different one.

Read more: All Canadians could get 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine by summer — if all goes well

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During the briefing, Mackie said it was encouraging to see less vaccine nationalism taking place and more collaboration between countries.

“The U.S. and Canada are as close as you can get in terms of countries, in terms of travel, trading, et cetera, where obviously it’s in everyone’s best interest for everyone in the U.S. And Canada to be vaccinated,” he said.

Last week, Canadian provinces began administering 500,000 doses of the version of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India.

The federal government has purchased 20 million doses directly from AstraZeneca, but did not have a timeline for when they would arrive.

Read more: ‘God bless America’: Doug Ford reacts to report U.S. plans to send Canada 1.5M vaccine doses

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

The Carling Heights site saw an average of 399 daily visits between March 7 and 12, while Oakridge Arena saw an average of 330.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.2 per cent as of the week of March 7, up from 1.1 the week before.

At least 10,702 people were tested the week of March 7.

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Ontario

Ontario is reporting 1,553 new cases of COVID-19 today and 15 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 404 new cases in Toronto, 294 in Peel Region and 176 in York Region.

The province says that 1,236 more cases were resolved.

Nearly 58,600 tests were completed since Wednesday’s report.

Ontario reports that 58,119 more vaccine doses were administered in the province since the last daily update.

More than 1.3 million vaccine doses have been given out in Ontario so far.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,553 new coronavirus cases, 15 more deaths

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Meanwhile, the government announced earlier Thursday that it will tighten pandemic restrictions for Ottawa on Friday.

The city will move to the second-strictest “red” level of the province’s colour-coded pandemic framework, which means retail stores will have capacity limits, indoor restaurant dining will see restrictions tightened and cinemas will close, among other things.

Ontario officials said the decision was made after Ottawa’s medical officer of health requested the change due to “concerning trends” in the region.

“Through discussions with the local medical officer of health and local authorities on the current situation in Ottawa, it was decided further action was needed to help ensure the continued health and safety of people in the region,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

Elgin and Oxford

Five new coronavirus cases have been reported in the Elgin-Oxford region, Southwestern Public Health reported on Thursday.

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It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,658, of which 2,519 have resolved, an increase of six from the day before.

At least 67 deaths have been reported in the region during the pandemic, most recently on Feb. 20.

As of Thursday, the region’s active case tally stands at 72. At least 35 are in Woodstock, while 14 are in Aylmer and seven in Central Elgin.

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

Read more: Extended COVID-19 income support to cost feds an extra $5B: budget watchdog

The region has seen at least 26 screened variant positive cases, according to the health unit.

At least two have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.

At least 15 screened variant positive cases are still active in the community, health unit figures show.

At least 3,565 residents in Elgin-Oxford have been partially vaccinated while at least 3,252 have been fully vaccinated as of March 6, the most recent figures available.

The region saw the opening of two mass vaccination clinics in St. Thomas and Woodstock earlier this week.

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Southwestern Public Health says it plans to continue using its own local booking system for now despite the launch of the provincial system.

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

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

Six cases remain active at St. Patrick’s Catholic Elementary School in Woodstock, while four remain active at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Woodstock where an outbreak declaration has resulted in its temporary closure.

Elsewhere, one case each is active at Davenport Public School, Emily Stowe Public School, and South Dorchester Public School.

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No new institutional outbreaks have been reported, and only one is active, located at Arches Transitional Bed Program in Woodstock, declared on March 9 and linked to one staff case.

The health unit says a total of 544 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 455 have been in Aylmer, 436 in St. Thomas and 339 in Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, 205 cases have been in Norwich, 162 in Bayham, 117 in Ingersoll, 111 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 57 in Zorra, 56 in Blandford-Blenheim, 52 in Central Elgin, 47 in South-West Oxford, 25 in Southwold, 23 in Dutton/Dunwich, 20 in West Elgin and eight in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.1 per cent as of the week of March 7, up from 1.0 the week before, new figures show.

At least 4,550 people were tested the week of March 7, down from 4,779 a week earlier.

Huron and Perth

Three new coronavirus cases have been reported in the Huron-Perth region, local health officials said Thursday.

The region’s pandemic case tally stands at 1,392, of which 1,321 have resolved, an increase of three from the day before. At least 50 deaths have been reported, most recently on March 1.

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Of the three new cases, one case each was reported in Bluewater, Central Huron, and West Perth.

The region has recorded four screened variant positive cases, unchanged from the day before. It’s unclear which variant may be involved as all four remain under investigation.

As of Thursday, 21 cases are active in the region, with at least 12 located just in Stratford.

Read more: How this past year of COVID-19 changed our lives forever

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

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

The health unit says it had administered at least 9,884 vaccine doses as of March 16.

Those looking to book a vaccination appointment are asked to do so via the health unit’s booking website or by calling 1-833-753-2098.

Officials have said they intend to use their own system for the time being despite the launch of the provincial system this week.

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No new school cases were reported Thursday.

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Two are still considered active in Huron-Perth. One is at St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School and the other at St. Michael Catholic Secondary School.

There were no changes to the number of outbreaks in the region. None are active at seniors’ facilities, hospitals, or schools.

One outbreak is active at an unnamed workplace.

At least 555 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 348 in North Perth and 138 in Perth East, while at least 459 have been reported in Huron County, with 101 each in Huron East and South Huron.

Stratford has reported at least 346 cases in total, while St. Marys has seen 32.

According to figures released last week, the region’s test positivity rate was 1.0 per cent as of the week of Feb. 28, up from 0.8 per cent the week before. New numbers are expected Thursday or Friday.

Roughly 2,702 people were tested the week of Feb. 28, down from 3,319 a week earlier.

Sarnia and Lambton

Twenty-eight new coronavirus cases have been reported in Lambton County, officials with Lambton Public Health reported Thursday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,479, of which 2,246 have resolved, an increase of 21 from the day before.

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At least 47 deaths have been reported, most recently on Tuesday involving a woman in her 70s.

The number of screened variant positive cases seen in the region stands at 36 as of Thursday, an increase of three from the day before. The cases remain under investigation to determine the variant involves.

According to a health unit spokesperson, roughly 40 per cent of the county’s variant cases are related to schools.

The health unit says at least 186 cases are active in the region as of Wednesday. Bluewater Health reported five COVID-19 patients in their care, down one from the day before.

The region remains in grey-lockdown of the province’s COVID-19 response framework.

Read more: Quebec surpasses 300,000 cases of COVID-19 as health minister gets 1st vaccine dose

At least 12,653 vaccine doses have been administered in Lambton since immunizations started Jan. 26, according to the health unit — more than 10 per cent of the county’s current eligible population.

Just over 1,250 have seen their follow up shot, the health unit says. Three vaccination clinics are open in the region.

Registration for those 80 and older opened on Monday through the province’s booking system, and the health unit says pre-registration is now open for those aged 75-79. One in-home caregiver who resides in the same household may also book a vaccine.

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As of Tuesday, the health unit says all second doses for residents of long-term care, high-risk retirement and Elder Care home are finished.

First doses for staff of long-term care and retirement homes, essential caregivers, medical first responders, and those 90 and older, and their in-home caregivers, are to finish by the end of this week.

“Vaccinations to urban Indigenous populations are ongoing. Clinics to vaccinate Indigenous adults also continue to be held at all three local First Nations communities including Aamjiwnaang, Kettle and Stony Point, and Walpole Island,” officials said in an immunization update.

More information on the local vaccine rollout can be found on the health unit’s website.

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At least four new school cases were reported on Thursday along with two new declared school outbreaks.

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The four new cases were reported at Confederation Central School (two cases), King George VI Public School – Sarnia, and Kinnwood Central Public School.

The four are among at least 67 school cases active in Lambton as of Thursday according to figures published by the Lambton Kent District School Board and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.

The two new outbreaks were declared at Confederation Central Public School (five cases) and King George Public School (two cases).

One school outbreak, at Queen Elizabeth II Public School in Sarnia and linked to two cases, has been resolved.

Elsewhere, school outbreaks remain active at Holy Trinity Catholic School (three cases), North Lambton Secondary School (eight cases), Brooke Central Public School (six cases), and Sacred Heart Catholic School (two cases).

Read more: EU regulator declares AstraZeneca vaccine safe and effective for continued use

A total of 11 outbreaks are active in the region. They include the six previously reported school outbreaks, along with five outbreaks active at seniors’ facilities.

The seniors’ facility outbreaks were declared on:

  • March 16 at Sumac Lodge in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • March 11 at Trillium Villa in Sarnia (two staff cases)
  • March 11 at Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • March 9 at Landmark Village in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • March 7 at Lambton Meadowview Villa in Petrolia (one staff case).

The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 3.3 per cent as of the week of March 7, up from 3.1 the week before and 1.7 a week before that.

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Finalized testing numbers aren’t available, but at least 4,786 people were tested the week of March 7 compared to a total of 5,150 the week before.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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