This is region’s largest single-day case increase since Jan. 19, when 82 cases were reported.
Sunday’s update also included nine new recoveries and zero new deaths.
In addition, the number of previous cases that have screened as a variant of concern in the region has risen by 19.
The overall case increase brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 6,899, of which 6,310 have resolved.
At least 186 deaths have been reported, most recently on Saturday.
At least 403 cases are listed as being active in the region as of Sunday, according to the health unit.
London-Middlesex has recorded at least 713 cases since the start of the month, more than was recorded through all of February.
The region remains in the orange-restrict level of the province’s COVID-19 response framework, however, local health officials have stressed that if current case trends continue, the province could potentially put the region back into red or lockdown in the coming weeks.
Of the 78 new cases reported, 67 are from London.
According to the health unit, the number of cases in the region that have screened variant positive has increased by 19 from the day before to a total of 111. At least six have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. The rest remain under investigation.
People under the age of 30 make up more than half of the region’s screened variant cases, with 23 involving people 19 or younger, and 29 involving people in their 20s.
Such variants of concern have been accounting for more and more local cases, helping push the region’s caseload higher.
But local health officials say variants themselves are not fully to blame.
“The big climb in cases recently has been directly related to close personal contact indoors without personal protective equipment,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, on Thursday.
“That’s been the cause of the vast majority of cases recently as it has been for most of this pandemic. So we, again, encourage people to keep your interactions online, outside, masked, distanced — take those precautions, they make a difference.”
Earlier this week, the number of close contacts being reported per-case numbered eight to 10, according to the health unit.
Mackie says despite the increasing number of vaccinated residents, other countries that have much higher immunization rates have seen case and death rates rise after restrictions were lifted too soon.
The region’s seven-day case average stood at 33 as of Friday, while the 14-day average stood at 27.14.
At least 6,024 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 271 have been in Middlesex Centre.
In addition, 220 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 99 in Thames Centre, 59 in Lucan Biddulph, 43 in Southwest Middlesex, 41 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.
At least 126 cases have pending location information.
The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) stands at 13 as of Friday, according to the most recent numbers made available.
At the same time, six people are said to be in critical or intensive care, unchanged from the day before.
Fewer than five staff cases are active within LHSC, the organization says, down from six the day before.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London (SJHCL), the organization says three non-outbreak cases are currently active involving health-care workers. It’s not clear at which SJHCL facility the staff members work.
At least 378 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 68 who have needed intensive care.
A new outbreak has been declared at Kensington Village. The MLHU says it impacts its first floor.
The outbreak at University Hospital’s U4 – Medicine 1, also known as 4IP General Medicine, has been declared over.
Two other institutional outbreaks remain active at two at seniors’ facilities — declared on March 11 at Glendale Crossing (Brighton) and March 26 at Henley Place LTC Residence (Victoria Unit).
Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains active at the city’s jail. The Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre outbreak was declared on Jan. 18, and has been linked to at least 30 inmate and 29 staff cases.
At least one inmate case was listed active at the jail as of Wednesday, according to provincial data. Similar information was not immediately available for staff cases.
A separate community outbreak linked to post-secondary parties that was declared earlier this month has seen no increase in cases since late last week. At least 49 cases had been confirmed as a result of the outbreak.
Global News does not update school cases on the weekend.
The Thames Valley District School Board reported one case each late Thursday at Nicholas Wilson Public School and Westminster Secondary School, both in London.
The London District Catholic School Board, meantime, reported one case each at Holy Rosary Catholic Elementary School and Mother Theresa Secondary School, both in London.
The health unit says at least 16 cases are active in the region are associated with local schools. A full list can be found on the MLHU website.
One outbreak is listed as active, located at Wilberforce Public School.
At least 235 cases have been confirmed at local elementary and secondary schools, while 28 have been associated with child care and early years settings, the health unit says.
Two cases associated with child care/early years settings were listed as active Friday.
One is associated with London Bridge: Huron Heights Early Childhood Learning Centre in London, while the others involve YMCA Before and After School Program – North Meadows Elementary School in Strathroy-Caradoc.
In the post-secondary world, two new outbreaks have been declared at Western University. The one declared on Thursday is linked to Western University’s Ontario Hall student residence and a second on Friday is linked to the University’s Saugeen Hall residence.
An outbreak, declared March 2, remains active at Western University’s Essex Hall student residence.
Vaccinations and testing
More than 64,783 doses have been administered in the region as of March 21, the most recent figures available from the health unit.
Eligibility opened Monday to residents aged 75 to 79, and expanded further on Wednesday to Indigenous adults aged 16 or older and to certain faith leaders at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure as part of their regular roles, such as end-of-life care and home visits to unwell persons.
More information on eligibility can be found on the health unit’s website.
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 the high call volume.
Vaccine demand has continued to outpace supply, Dr. Chris Mackie said.
The local campaign has been operating on an “earn and burn” strategy, which has seen the vaccine administered quicker than it is coming into the community, Mackie said Thursday.
Because of the lacklustre rate of incoming doses, the region’s three mass vaccination clinics have been operating well below their maximum capacity, he added.
“Those could vaccinate 4,500 people per day. At the moment, we’re receiving vaccines in the order of 2,000-2,200 per day,” Mackie said.
“We’ve had our most recent allocation forecasting received (Thursday), and over the next few weeks the province is not expecting any increase in vaccines here.”
As a result of the supply issues, the health unit has had to delay the opening of its planned fourth vaccination clinic at Earl Nichols Recreation Centre. It’s not clear when the facility is set to open.
“We’d love to have a good reason to open that fourth mass vaccination centre right now, we just have nowhere near the vaccine doses that would justify that at this point,” Mackie said.
During Thursday’s briefing, Mackie was asked again when doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine may make their way to pharmacies in the London-Middlesex region as part of the province’s pilot project.
A pilot project offering the vaccine to people 60 and older started this month in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor pharmacies.
The pilot will expand to 700 locations across the province in the coming weeks, then to approximately 1,500 sites, as supply becomes available.
Health officials overseeing Elgin-Oxford have said that at least three pharmacies there would begin carrying the vaccine in the coming weeks.
“We haven’t heard any confirmation of that, and no direct communication about it from the Ministry of Health.”
Mackie also didn’t have an estimate for when the region would expand vaccines to those aged 70-74, as has begun in some other regions.
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 1.6 per cent as of the week of March 14, up from 1.2 the previous week.
Ontario reported 2,448 COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 343,140.
This marks the fourth day in a row that the province has reported more than 2,000 cases.
Nineteen new deaths were also reported on Sunday, bringing the provincial death toll to 7,327.
A total of 317,408 COVID-19 cases are considered resolved, which is up by 1,543 and is 92.5 per cent of all confirmed cases.
More than 50,200 additional tests were completed. Ontario has now completed a total of 12,423,100 tests and 25,452 are under investigation.
There have been 18,322 other COVID-19 cases that have screened positive for a virus mutation, which is up by 711.
Elgin and Oxford
Southwestern Public Health does not update case numbers on weekends. The information below was last updated on Friday.
One death and 10 new coronavirus cases were reported Friday by officials with Southwestern Public Health.
The death, which health unit officials say involved a man in his 60s from Oxford County and was not linked to a seniors’ facility, is the region’s 68th death and is the first to be reported in more than a month. The previous death was reported on Feb. 20.
With the update, it leaves the region’s pandemic case tally at 2,741, of which 2,597 have resolved, an increase of 13 from the day before. Health officials reported eight new cases and six resolved cases on Thursday.
As of Friday, 76 cases are listed as active in Elgin-Oxford. Twenty-six are located in Woodstock, while 15 are in St. Thomas and nine in Central Elgin. At least two people are in hospital, the health unit says.
The number of screened variant positive cases in the region stands at 57 as of Friday, seven more than the day before. At least 20 cases are still active.
Five screened cases have since been confirmed through genomic sequencing to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.
The other 52 have not been sequenced, but are presumed to involve the same variant, the health unit says.
The region remains in the orange-restrict level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.
At least 7,618 residents in Elgin-Oxford have recieved at least one vaccine dose in the health unit says, while 3,921 have received both doses.
Health officials said this week that at least three pharmacies in Elgin-Oxford would begin carrying the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming weeks as part of the province’s expanded pharmacy pilot project.
Details remain elusive as to which pharmacies will see the vaccine.
No new school cases have been reported in the region, according to the Thames Valley District and London District Catholic school boards.
At least 13 cases are active at schools in the region.
Five cases are located at St. Patrick’s Catholic Elementary School in Woodstock, while one each is active at Arthur Voaden Secondary School, College Avenue Secondary School, Davenport Public School, Harrisfield Public School, Huron Park Secondary School, Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute, South Dorchester Public School, and Southside Public School.
Meantime, no new institutional outbreaks have been declared, and there are none currently active, according to the health unit.
The health unit says a total of 577 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 455 have been in Aylmer, 450 in St. Thomas and 344 in Tillsonburg.
Elsewhere, 207 cases have been in Norwich, 163 in Bayham, 127 in Ingersoll, 115 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 60 in Central Elgin, 57 in Zorra, 56 in Blandford-Blenheim, 51 in South-West Oxford, 25 in Southwold, 24 in Dutton/Dunwich, 20 in West Elgin and nine in Malahide.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.6 per cent as of the week of March 14, up from 1.2 per cent the previous week, health unit figures show.
Huron and Perth
Huron Perth Public Health does not provide COVID-19 updates on Sundays.
As of Saturday, the region’s pandemic case tally stood at 1,408, of which 1,346 have resolved. At least 50 deaths have been reported, as of March 1.
Twelve cases are active in Huron-Perth, with six in Stratford, three in South Huron, two in Perth South, and one in Central Huron. None of the infected individuals are currently in hospital.
The number of screened variant positive cases in the region stands at six, as of Saturday. Two are still active. A specific variant has not been identified in any of the six cases.
The region remains in the yellow-protect level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.
Huron Perth Public Health says in addition to Indigenous adults and certain faith leaders, people over the age of 70, born 1951 or earlier, are now eligible to receive a vaccine in the region.
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.
More information on the local vaccination campaign and eligibility can be found on the HPPH website.
HPPH says it has administered at least 15,544 vaccine doses since March 25, the most recent figures available.
No new school cases have been reported in the region.
Two are active — one at Romeo Public School and one at St. Michael Catholic Secondary School, both in Stratford.
No new outbreaks have been declared and none are currently active, the health unit says.
At least 558 cases have been reported in Perth County, including 348 in North Perth and 138 in Perth East. At least 462 been reported in Huron County, with 104 in South Huron and 101 in Huron East.
Stratford has reported at least 355 in total, while St. Marys has seen 33.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.5 per cent in week of March 14, down from 0.8 per cent the week before.
Sarnia and Lambton
Lambton Public Health reported 20 new COVID-19 cases, along with 21 recoveries on Sunday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,778, of which 2,522 have recovered. At least 48 deaths have been reported during the pandemic, as of Thursday.
As of Sunday, 208 cases are active in the county, with at least five people listed in the care of Bluewater Health.
Lambton Public Health does not update detailed information on the weekend. The information below was last updated Friday.
At least 74 screened variant positive cases have been reported in Lambton. All remain under investigation to determine which specific variant is involved.
The region remains in grey-lockdown of the province’s COVID-19 response framework, where it will remain next week.
The local vaccination campaign continues, and at least 16,454 doses have been completed as of March 23, the most recent figures available.
Of those, 14,910 have seen just first doses, while 1,544 have been fully vaccinated.
In an update earlier this week, the health unit said all first and second doses to long-term care, high-risk retirement and elder care homes had been completed.
Initial doses to long-term care and retirement home staff, essential caregivers, medical first responders, those 90 and older and their in-home caregivers were almost complete.
Vaccines continue to be administered to health-care workers, adult recipients of chronic home health care, and those 75 and older, along with one in-home caregiver who resides in the same home.
Clinics to vaccinate Indigenous adults continue to be held in all three local First Nations communities including Aamjiwnaang, Kettle and Stony Point, and Walpole Island.
Those eligible to book a vaccine appointment are asked to visit the health unit’s website or call 519-383-8331.
At least two new school cases were reported in Lambton, with one case declared at Lambton Centennial Public School and one at London Road School, the Lambton-Kent District School Board said.
Outbreak declarations remain active at the following schools:
- Confederation Central Public School (five cases)
- Holy Trinity Catholic School (three cases)
- King George Public School (two cases)
- North Lambton Secondary School (13 cases)
- Northern High School (two cases)
- St. Patrick’s Catholic High School (two cases).
One institutional outbreak has been resolved, while two workplace outbreaks have been declared active.
The resolved outbreak had been declared on March 11 at Vision Nursing Home, and was linked to at least one staff case.
The two new workplace outbreaks, meantime, are linked to three and four cases, respectively.
Elsewhere, six seniors’ facility outbreaks remain active in Lambton, declared on:
- March 23 at Rosewood Retirement Village (one resident case)
- March 20 at Fairwinds Lodge in Sarnia (one staff case)
- March 19 at Afton Park Place in Sarnia (one resident case, two staff cases)
- 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)
At least 15 outbreaks in total are active in Lambton as of Friday, the health unit says, including those at schools, seniors’ facilities and workplaces.
The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 3.7 per cent the week of March 14, up from 3.3 a week earlier.
–With files from Matthew Trevithick, Sawyer Bogdan, Ryan Rocca, and The Canadian Press