Thirty-one new COVID-19 cases have been reported in London and Middlesex, local health officials said Friday.
At the same time, the Middlesex-London Health Unit has confirmed that those aged 75 to 79 will be eligible to receive the vaccine as of Monday.
The region’s pandemic case tally now stands at 6,537, of which 6,117 have resolved, an increase of 21 from the day before. At least 185 deaths have been reported, most recently on March 8.
At least 175 cases are active in the region as of Friday, the health unit says. Their locations have not been made public.
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.
Of the 31 new cases, 26 are from London, four are from Middlesex County and one is pending location data.
Twenty of the cases involve people under the age of 40. Eight are 19 or younger, six each are in their 20s and 30s, one is in their 40s, three each are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, and one is 80 or older.
Exposure source data is pending for 15 cases, while eight are linked to close contact and eight have no known link.
The number of screened variant positive cases in the region stands at at least 41. The figure was issued Thursday by Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health.
At least four have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.
More contagious variants have become an important driver of new case numbers, health officials say, and are fuelling concerns of a third local wave of the virus. Such a third wave is already taking shape at the provincial level, according to the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.
On Friday, Canada’s top doctor said there is concern that an increase in variants may be threatening Canada’s progress in containing the spread of infections.
There have been nearly 4,500 variant cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with 90 per cent of those involving the B.1.1.7 variant, Dr. Theresa Tam said, adding that in parts of Canada, variants of concern are making up a higher proportion of all new cases.
Local health officials have not indicated that variants may be involved in a large community outbreak, declared last week, that has infected at least 49 people as of Thursday.
The outbreak was declared after multiple people, mostly Western University students, contracted the virus after attending one or more of at least 10 gatherings between March 2 and 6.
Initially 22 cases were reported, rising to 45 on Monday and 49 on Thursday. The cases that came after the initial 22 largely came through secondary testing of close contacts, officials have said.
Despite the large number of cases, Mackie indicated that spread related to the outbreak has waned since it was declared.
“We’re seeing not a lot of evidence of spread once the issue was detected and control measures put in place,” Mackie said Thursday.
Further details are expected on Monday.
The region’s seven-day case average stood at 21.14 as of Friday, up from 20.0 on Thursday. The 14-day average was 20.57.
At least 5,706 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 252 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 211 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 956 in Thames Centre, 59 in Lucan Biddulph, 41 in Southwest Middlesex, 37 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.
At least 119 cases have pending location information.
The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of LHSC has risen again to a total of 11, two more than the day before.
The number rose to nine on Thursday after dropping to fewer than five on Wednesday from 10 on Tuesday.
The number in critical or intensive care, however, has remained unchanged at five or fewer.
The number of staff cases active at LHSC stands at eight as of Friday, unchanged from Thursday.
LHSC has one active outbreak at University Hospital, tied to fewer than five patient and five staff cases.
St. Joseph’s Health Care London had no COVID-19 cases among patients or staff at any of its facilities as of Friday. The tally has not changed since March 8.
The health unit says at least 370 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 67 who have needed intensive care.
No new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none have resolved, according to the health unit.
Six institutional outbreaks remain active in the region, with five at seniors’ facilities and one at University Hospital.
- 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)
No change has been reported related to the University Hospital outbreak, which has been linked to fewer than five patient cases and fewer than five staff cases.
A non-institutional outbreak remains active at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. At least two active inmate cases were reported at the jail as of Wednesday, according to provincial data. 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.
At least one new school case has been reported in the region and an outbreak has been declared over.
The Thames Valley District School Board reported late Thursday that one new case had been reported at Parkhill-West Williams Public School.
At least 10 school cases are active in the region, according to the health unit. A full list can be found on the MLHU website.
Only one outbreak remains active after the health unit said one at Bonaventure Meadows Public School, declared March 5, had been resolved.
The active outbreak is located at Wilberforce Public School in Lucan Biddulph, declared March 15.
On Thursday, the TVDSB reported that two previously confirmed cases at Sir Arthur Currie Public School and Strathroy District Collegiate Institute had recently screened variant positive.
In a statement, the board said the schools will remain open, and assures the community that staff, parents and guardians were immediately notified.
“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.
A total of at least 219 elementary and school cases have been confirmed in the region so far.
At least 26 cases located at child-care and early years centres.
One case was listed by the health unit as being active and associated with a private before and after school program in Lucan Biddulph.
In post-secondary education, meantime, an outbreak is listed as active at Western University’s Essex Hall residence.
Vaccinations and testing
Thousands of local residents aged 75 to 79 will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine starting next week, the health unit confirmed on Friday.
Health officials said the expanded vaccination eligibility will take effect Monday, and includes those who are not yet 75 but who are turning 75 this year. Appointment slots will be available up to and including April 5.
The news comes hours after Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the province would be expanding the list of those who can receive a vaccine ahead of schedule.
Eligible residents are asked to visit covidvaccinelm.ca or call 226-289-3560 (9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) to book an appointment. Online appointments are encouraged due to high expected call volume.
“Because it is expected there will be a very high demand for appointments on Monday morning, the public is asked to be patient when trying to book a vaccination date,” read a joint statement from the MLHU, Huron Perth Public Health and Southwestern Public Health.
The province said Friday that more than 50 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, and that 1.4 million doses have been given out across the province.
“We’ve been able to give more than 16,000 doses of vaccine to those over the age of 80 through visits to long-term care and retirement homes and appointments at our clinics,” Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said in the statement.
“We have the vaccine and a proven process to get it into arms, so we’re excited to welcome those 75 to 79 to our vaccination clinics next week.”
Three clinics are operating in the region, and roughly 60,000 doses have been administered locally since late December.
One vaccination clinic, located at the North London Optimist Community Centre, opened on Thursday, and will dole out 400 jabs per day with the goal of ramping up to a maximum capacity of 2,000 per day.
Ahead of Friday’s announcement, vaccine eligibility was expanded Thursday to more priority groups, according to the health unit.
As of Thursday, eligibility has opened up to additional front line health-care workers, including those in campus health, community diagnostic imaging, developmental services, daycare and school nursing, dietary and nutrition, mental health and addictions services, social work and sexual health clinics, among others.
Front-line workers in non-acute rehabilitation and therapy areas, such as chiropractic, kinesiology, physiotherapy, psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy, registered massage therapy, and more are also now eligible.
Also eligible are residents and staff of congregate settings with history of outbreak or with high-risk populations, at the discretion of the health unit, as well as non-front-line health-care workers, such as those working remotely, in administration, and who don’t require personal protective equipment (PPE) to work.
More information on eligibility can be found on the health unit’s website.
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.
Ontario is reporting 1,745 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 478 new cases in Toronto and 344 in Peel Region.
She also says there are 174 new cases in York Region and 116 in Hamilton.
More than 61,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province since the last daily report.
As previously mentioned, Ontario will expand its COVID-19 immunization effort next week, opening vaccine appointments to those aged 75 and older.
The 75 and older cohort was initially set to become eligible provincewide in April, although some public health units have already moved on to vaccinating that group.
At the same time, the province says it is also expanding a pilot program offering vaccines in some pharmacies. As of Monday, it will offer the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to anyone aged 60 and older.
The pharmacy project previously only offered the shot to those aged 60 to 64 but the government said it was removing the upper age limit after new guidelines deemed the shot safe for those 65 and older as well.
The number of participating pharmacies is also doubling to approximately 700 over the next two weeks. The province said that number is expected to rise to approximately 1,500 by the end of April.
Participating pharmacies are currently located in the Toronto, Kingston and Windsor health units but Ford said the project will be expanding “across the province.”
It’s unclear if any will be located in the London area.
Elgin and Oxford
Thirteen new coronavirus cases have been reported in the Elgin-Oxford region, officials with Southwestern Public Health said Friday.
The region’s pandemic case tally stands at 2,671, of which 2,538 have resolved, an increase of 19 from the day before. At least 67 deaths have been reported, most recently on Feb. 20.
At least 66 cases are considered active in the region. Of those, At least 36 are in Woodstock and 10 in Aylmer.
The region has recorded at least 28 screened variant positive cases as of Thursday, an increase of two from the day before. Fourteen variant cases are still active.
At least two, since resolved, have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. The rest are being investigated.
Like in Huron-Perth and London-Middlesex, Elgin-Oxford residents aged 75 to 79 will be vaccine eligible as of Monday.
“We are pleased to see the results of the early vaccine efforts in our long-term care homes and retirement homes where we currently have no reported outbreaks,” the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Joyce Lock, said in a statement Friday released by Southwestern Public Health, Huron Perth Public Health, and the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
“Now we turn our attention to older adults living in the community who have been eagerly awaiting this announcement.”
Eligible residents are asked to visit covidvaccinelm.ca or call 226-289-3560 (9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) to book an appointment. Online appointments are encouraged due to high expected call volume.
Health unit figures show at least 3,626 people in Elgin-Oxford have been fully vaccinated as of March 13, while just over 5,000 have seen only one dose. The tallies equal 1.7 per cent and 4.1 per cent, respectively, the population of SWPH’s jurisdiction.
The region saw the opening of two mass vaccination clinics in St. Thomas and Woodstock earlier this week.
Southwestern Public Health says it plans to continue using the local booking system for now despite the launch of the provincial system.
At least one new school case has been reported in the region.
The case is associated with St. Patrick’s Catholic Elementary School in Woodstock, where a total of seven cases are active.
An outbreak declaration remains in place for St. Michael’s Catholic School in Woodstock, where at least four cases, including one screened variant positive, have been reported.
Elsewhere, one case each is active at Davenport Public School and South Dorchester Public School. One case at Emily Stowe Public School has resolved.
No new institutional outbreaks have been reported. Only one is active, located at Arches Transitional Bed Program in Woodstock. Declared on March 9, it’s linked to one staff case.
An outbreak at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer remained active as of Thursday. It’s been linked to a total of 123 cases, of which 112 have resolved, a Ministry of the Solicitor General spokesperson said.
The health unit says a total of 552 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 455 have been in Aylmer, 436 in St. Thomas and 341 in Tillsonburg.
Elsewhere, 205 cases have been in Norwich, 162 in Bayham, 120 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.
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 Huron-Perth, local health officials reported on Friday.
They bring the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,395, of which 1,328 have resolved, an increase of seven from the day before. At least 50 deaths have been reported, most recently on March 1.
Of the three new cases, one each was reported in Perth South, South Huron and Stratford.
The update leaves 17 active cases in the region. At least nine of them are in Stratford.
No people are currently hospitalized.
At least four screened variant positive cases have been reported in Huron-Perth. All remain under investigation to determine which variant may be involved.
The region remains in the yellow-protect level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.
Like in Elgin-Oxford and London-Middlesex, residents aged 75-79 will be vaccine eligible as of Monday.
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, however online bookings are encouraged.
“We are very happy that we are now opening up our clinics further to include those 75 and older,” the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Miriam Klassen, said in a joint statement released by HPPH, Middlesex-London Health Unit, and Southwestern Public Health.
“We know the importance of older adults getting the vaccine and look forward to seeing them in our clinics.”
At least 10,453 full vaccinations have been administered to residents of Huron-Perth as of March 17, the most recent figures available from the health unit. The number of vaccines administered that were only first doses was not immediately available.
Officials have said they intend to use their own system for the time being despite the launch of the provincial system this week.
“Regardless of an individual’s vaccination status, it’s important to continue following public health measures to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” read a health unit update Thursday.
“Someone who is vaccinated could potentially still spread the virus to others. Studies to assess if authorized COVID-19 vaccines prevent asymptomatic infection and transmission are ongoing.”
No new school cases have been reported. Two are listed as being active in the region, located at St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School and St. Michael Catholic Secondary School.
As well, no new outbreaks have been declared at seniors’ facilities, hospitals, schools or child-care centres, and none are currently active.
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.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.8 per cent as of the week of March 7, slightly down from 0.9 per cent the week before.
At least 2,942 people were tested the week of March 7, down from 3,180 a week earlier, however, finalized numbers were not available.
Sarnia and Lambton
Thirty-five new coronavirus cases were reported on Friday by officials with Lambton Public Health.
At least 2,514 cases have been reported in the county during the pandemic, of which 2,259 had resolved, an increase of 13 from a day earlier.
At least 47 deaths have been reported, most recently on Tuesday.
At least 208 cases are considered active in the county, with a significant number, at least 71 as of Friday, linked to schools. Bluewater Health reported five COVID-19 patients in its care, unchanged from the day before.
Friday’s update continues an upward case trajectory the region has been experiencing for the last several weeks — an upward trajectory that helped land it back into lockdown earlier this week.
Health unit figures suggest that as many as 402 cases have been reported since the start of March.
On Friday, the province announced that restaurants in regions placed under lockdown would be allowed to have outdoor dining.
At least 41 screened variant positive cases have been reported in Lambton, an increase of five from the day before. It’s unclear what variant may be involved as they remain under investigation.
Health officials have said as much as 40 per cent of the region’s variant cases are linked to schools.
The health unit says it has opened vaccine pre-registration for those aged 75 to 79 and for those turning 75 this year.
One in-home caregiver who resides in the same household may also book a vaccine.
Those looking to pre-register are asked to visit the health unit’s website or call 519-383-8331 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The call centre will be open on Saturday to assist residents.
The health unit says a total of at least 12,653 doses have been administered in the county since Jan. 26 — 10 per cent of the county’s eligible population.
At least 1,251 receiving both a first and second dose, officials said.
Three vaccination clinics are open in the region. More information on the local vaccine rollout can be found on the health unit’s website.
At least eight new school-associated cases were reported Friday in Lambton County and one new outbreak declared.
The number of active school cases in the region stands at at least 71 as of Friday, according to figures published by the Lambton Kent District School Board and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.
The new outbreak was declared at Northern High School, linked to two cases.
Three new cases each were reported at North Lambton Secondary School and St. Patrick’s Catholic High School, while one each are from Bosanquet Central Public School and Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School.
North Lambton is home to one of the county’s seven active school outbreaks, according to the health unit. Declared on March 14, it’s linked to at least 10 cases.
The Lambton-Kent District School Board reported Friday at least 17 active cases at the school.
Overall, school outbreaks remain active at:
- Brooke Central Public School (six cases)
- Confederation Central Public School (five cases)
- Holy Trinity Catholic School (three cases)
- King George Public School (two cases)
- North Lambton Secondary School (10 cases)
- Northern High School (two cases)
- Sacred Heart Catholic School (two cases).
Health officials told 980 CFPL earlier this week that roughly 40 per cent of the county’s variant cases were linked to local schools.
One new institutional outbreak has been declared in the region, located at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia, linked to one staff case.
It’s among six seniors’ facility outbreaks active in Lambton County, declared on:
- March 18 at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia (one staff case)
- March 16 at Sumac Lodge in Sarnia (one staff case)
- March 11 at Trillium Villa in Sarnia (three staff cases, one more than Thursday)
- 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).
Including the school outbreaks, 13 outbreaks are active in the region as of Friday.
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.
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