The update brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 9,804, of which 8,606 have resolved, an increase of 112 from the day before.
At least 196 deaths have been reported. The MLHU says the latest death involves a man in his 80s who was not associated with a long-term care or retirement home.
As of Saturday, the region has at least 1,002 active cases.
The health unit says roughly 2,619 cases have been reported since the month of April began, more than any other month of the pandemic.
A record 176 cases were recorded on April 13, according to revised health unit data.
As of Friday, the region’s rolling seven-day case average stands at 101, down from 128 the seven days previous.
At least 7.1 per cent of tests in London and Middlesex were coming back positive as of the week of April 11, down from 7.7 a week earlier, according to data released by MLHU this week.
While the N6A postal area continues to see the highest test positivity rate in southwestern Ontario, it is no longer the worst provincewide. New data from the non-profit group ICES shows the postal area recorded a 17.29 per cent positivity rate of April 17, down from 31 per cent the previous week.
The postal area includes part of Western University’s campus and some off-campus neighbourhoods. Many post-secondary students recently concluded their semesters and returned home.
Of the 82 cases reported on Saturday, 73 are from London while four are from Middlesex County.
Twenty-two cases involve people 19 or younger; 18 are in their 20s; 14 are in their 30s; five are in their 40s; 13 are in their 50s; eight are in their 60s; one is in their 70s; and two are in their 80s.
The health unit says variant cases have been making up a majority of the local caseload recently, with roughly 60 per cent of all cases seen during the weeks of April 4-10, and April 11-17 involving variants. Data for the current week is still being analyzed.
As of Saturday, the cumulative number of variant cases in London-Middlesex stood at 1,551, an increase of 82 from the day before.
Health unit figures show that all but two have been the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. The 82 cases reported Saturday were B.1.1.7.
Two cases have been confirmed to be the P.1 variant, first found in Brazil, unchanged since last week.
It should be noted that the health unit’s variant tally now includes cases presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, as well as cases that have undergone genomic analysis and confirmed to be a variant.
- Confirming a variant is a multi-step process. Positive COVID-19 cases undergo initial screening for spike protein mutations common to variants (N501Y, E484K, and K417N), and if found to have one or more, undergo further genomic analysis to determine the specific variant involved (B.1.1.7, B.1.351, or P.1) — a process that can take up to two weeks.
- Since last month, the province has stopped conducting genomic analysis on cases that screen positive for just the N501Y mutation. Now, those cases are presumed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, as that variant has only been associated with the N501Y mutation.
- Cases that screen positive for either the E484K or K417N mutations are still being sent for genomic analysis as they have been associated with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.
A separate tally showing the number of cases that have screened positive for a variant-associated mutation, but which have not been confirmed or presumed to be a variant, stands at 236, nine more than the day before. (The tally will fluctuate up and down as cases undergo genomic analysis and are confirmed.)
Of those 236 cases, at least 106 were found to have the E484K mutation, consistent with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, nine more than Friday. They are under genomic analysis. (Of those 106, at least 91 were also found to have the N501Y mutation as well.)
The remaining 130 cases screened, initially, for just the N501Y mutation, however, they have not been ruled out for the E484K mutation, and as a result, have not yet been added to the main variant case tally. It’s unclear if or when these cases may be added.
At least 8,756 cases have been confirmed in the City of London since the pandemic began, while 319 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 291 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 123 in Thames Centre, 61 in Lucan Biddulph, 54 in Southwest Middlesex, 53 in North Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.
At least 130 cases have pending location information.
Ninety-one people with COVID-19 were in the care of London Health Sciences Centre as of noon Friday, with at least 41 in intensive care, a new ICU record.
Nine staff members remain positive with COVID-19, unchanged from the day before.
LHSC set a new single-day patient record Wednesday afternoon when at least 95 COVID-19 patients were reported to be in its care.
At St. Joseph’s Hospital, meantime, no COVID-19 patients were listed as being in their care as of Friday. Five staff cases are active within St. Joseph’s Health Care London, however, it’s not clear in which facility the staff work.
At least 488 people in London-Middlesex have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 83 in intensive care, the health unit says.
LHSC officials announced Friday that the organization will be increasing its critical care capacity and further reducing the number of scheduled surgical and procedural activities it conducts.
It comes as LHSC deals with a recent surge of COVID-19 patients, including from the London-Middlesex region and those transferred from overwhelmed hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
LHSC says it’s seeing between two and eight medical ward-level and ICU patients transferred into its care every day from Toronto-area hospitals, such as Brampton and Mississauga.
The move to reduce scheduled procedures comes as a result of a provincial directive. Cancer, cardiac, vascular, trauma, transplant, and neurosurgery cases will be prioritized, LHSC says.
“In order to reduce our surgery and free up people and space, we decreased our overall operating capacity to about 50 per cent,” said Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s chief medical officer, on Friday.
“What that means is that only those surgeries or procedures that are absolutely necessary to occur within the next 30 days will be done in our operating rooms at LHSC… It’s never something we want to do, but it’s necessary in order to free up the people to open up those ICU beds as well as free up space in other parts of the hospital.”
LHSC says it will also open an additional seven critical care beds, to be ready for use by the end of the weekend but opened only as they are needed. They are in addition to the 18 that were opened earlier this month at University and Victoria hospitals.
Four of the new beds will be at Victoria Hospital in an already-utilized temporary critical care space, while three will be in the Paediatric Critical Care Unit of Children’s Hospital to accommodate adult patients needing non-COVID-19 critical care.
The news comes a day after St. Joseph’s Health Care London announced that it too would begin ramping down all elective surgeries and procedures as part of a provincial directive starting Monday.
In addition, the organization said it would also open additional beds for non-COVID-19 patients not requiring acute care, and redeploying staff and resources.
As LHSC has fielded more COVID-19 patients from the GTA, St. Joseph’s has been helping alleviate pressure by taking in patients from LHSC who no longer need acute level care or who are awaiting long-term care and can’t be safely sent home. Other local hospitals, including those in St. Thomas, Stratford and Windsor, have also been receiving patients transferred from Toronto-area hospitals.
SJHCL said it has received funding for up to 44 additional beds, which will be made available at Parkwood Institute as the need arises.
No institutional outbreaks are currently active at any seniors’ facility, hospital or other health-care setting.
The lone active outbreak at Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Building has been deemed resolved as of late Thursday, according to the health unit.
Elsewhere, a large workplace outbreak at Cargill’s London facility has been connected with at least 116 cases. The facility has been given the go-ahead from the health unit to resume operations on Friday after it was temporarily closed due to the outbreak.
The Cargill outbreak is the second-largest to be seen in the London-Middlesex region, behind a significant and deadly outbreak at University Hospital from Nov. 10 to Dec. 29, 2020.
An outbreak is also still active at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. At least 12 inmate cases were active at the jail as of April 19, the most recent figure available.
Declared three months ago on Jan. 18, the outbreak has been linked to at least 64 cases among inmates and 34 among staff. No staff cases were listed as active at the jail as of Wednesday, according to a spokesperson with the Minister of the Solicitor General.
Outbreaks also remain active involving eight Western University student residences. More information is below.
Global News does not provide updates on school cases over the weekend.
At least three new school-linked cases have been reported by the health unit and by local school boards.
The health unit reported that one new case each had been reported involving Rick Hansen Public School and St. Andre Bessette Secondary School, while the London District Catholic School Board reported one new case involving St. Francis School.
They’re among at least 10 active school-linked cases in London-Middlesex.
Elsewhere, an outbreak has been declared over at St. Anne’s Catholic School. The outbreak had been declared on April 9.
Outbreak declarations, however, remain active involving the following schools, according to the health unit:
- East Carling Public School
- École élémentaire catholique Frère André
- Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School
- Providence Reformed Collegiate
- St. Andre Bessette Secondary School
- St. Francis School
At least 350 cases associated with elementary and secondary schools have been reported in the region during the pandemic, according to the health unit.
Another 52 have been linked to child care and early years settings.
As of Friday, at least six cases were active involving such settings.
The health unit says one case each involves Beba’s Daycare Child Care Service; Blossoms Childhood Education Centre-West; Faith Day Nursery; London Bridge: Piccadilly Place Early Childhood Learning Centre; North Woods Montessori School; and White Oaks Children’s Centre.
One outbreak also remains active involving Faith Day Nursery, declared on April 13.
A previous outbreak, declared on April 8 at Kidorable Child Care Centre, has been declared over, the health unit said.
In post-secondary, no change has been reported in the ongoing outbreaks at Western University student residences.
Eight remain active, according to the health unit, associated with more than 175 cases.
- London Hall – 6
- Ontario Hall – 8
- Essex Hall – 12
- Elgin Hall – 15
- Delaware Hall -19 + 1 from out of area who did not get tested
- Perth Hall – 28
- Medway-Sydenham Hall – 33
- Saugeen-Maitland Hall – 54 + 3 probable cases who have not yet been tested.
Vaccinations and Testing
Adults aged 16 and older who are pregnant are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at one of the region’s mass vaccination clinics.
The health unit announced the change on Friday. It comes two days after eligibility was expanded to include people 16 and older with certain highest-risk health conditions. Pregnancy is now among them.
Eligible residents are asked to visit the local vaccine booking website or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment at one of the region’s three mass vaccination clinics. Online appointments are encouraged due to the high call volume.
More than 125,000 vaccine doses have been administered in London-Middlesex so far. As many as 18,370 were administered last week, the most of any week so far.
On Thursday, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, noted that vaccine uptake has been good in London-Middlesex, especially at local pharmacies after the age was lowered to those 40 and older.
The pharmacy program is being led by the province. Residents are asked to book a spot with the pharmacies themselves, however, waitlists for the shot have been long and demand has been outpacing supply.
Local health officials have stressed that Londoners should get the vaccine they’re eligible for, rather than waiting for another one in the future.
Asked why vaccine eligibility at the mass clinics wasn’t wider, Mackie said the health unit was hoping to expand it to even more at-risk groups, as defined in the province’s Phase 2 plans, possibly next week.
However, vaccine supply limitations were the main stumbling block.
Opening it up to those defined as ‘at-risk’— a provincial definition behind ‘high-risk’ and ‘highest-risk’ which includes asthma, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, liver and heart disease, and a number of other conditions — would make tens of thousands of new people eligible.
“So we, as you can imagine, need to have the ducks in a row to be able to open to such a large group, and we do hope and anticipate that we’ll be able to do that at some point next week,” Mackie said.
It’s not clear yet whether all at-risk people will be eligible at once or whether the health unit will break the at-risk category into subgroups.
At the national level, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization, or NACI, lowered its age recommendation Friday for the Oxford-AstraZeneva vaccine.
The NACI recommended Friday that people aged 30 and older can get a shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine if they do not want to wait for an alternative.
The committee had initially recommended the shots for people 55 and older out of an abundance of caution after reports of very rare blood clots. But some provinces, including Ontario, started administering the vaccine to those 40 and older given the current spread of the virus.
Health Canada has approved the shot for those 18 and older and has said the benefits outweigh the risks.
Ontario says it won’t immediately lower eligibility to those 30 and older due to supply issues.
The updated NACI guidelines came as the province reported its first case of a rare blood clot in a person who received the vaccine. The province is now checking a second report after a man in his 60s contacted Global News.
Meanwhile, it’s still not clear whether the province will designate the N6A postal code, or any region of London-Middlesex, as a provincial COVID-19 hot spot despite requests to do so from local leaders.
The area, which previously had the highest test positivity rate in the province at 31 per cent, is now 31st on that list with 17.29, behind areas in Peel, Toronto, and York region.
N6A still has the highest positivity rate in southwestern Ontario, however, with N9G in Windsor-Essex second with 13.22 per cent.
Those looking to get tested for COVID-19 can still visit the region’s two main assessment centres, at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, which remain open and operating by appointment.
At least 7.1 per cent of tests in London and Middlesex were coming back positive as of the week of April 11, down from 7.7 a week earlier, according to data released by MLHU this week.
Ontario reported 4,094 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 441,404.
Twenty-four new deaths were also reported, bringing the death toll to 7,887.
A total of 392,044 cases are considered resolved, which is up by 4,332 and is 88.8 per cent of all confirmed cases.
More than 52,100 additional tests were completed. Ontario has now completed a total of 13,831,115 tests and 31,933 remain under investigation.
There have been 49,860 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K. (up by 2,955), as well as 150 of the B.1.351 variant which was discovered in South Africa (up by 16), and 267 cases of the P.1 variant, first found in Brazil (up by 43).
Elgin and Oxford
Southwestern Public Health does not provide COVID-19 updates on weekends.
As of Friday, the region’s pandemic case tally stood at 3,275, of which 3,040 have resolved.
At least 76 deaths have been reported during the pandemic. The most recent death was reported Friday and involved a man in his 60s from St. Thomas, a health unit spokesperson said.
Friday marked the fourth day in a row that the health unit reported a COVID-19-related death.
At least 159 cases are considered active in Elgin-Oxford, including 52 in St. Thomas, 40 in Woodstock, and 23 in Tillsonburg.
At least four people from the SWPH region are in hospital with COVID-19, the health unit says. None are in intensive care.
The number of variant cases identified in the region currently stands at 343, an increase of 27 from the day before.
Of those, at least 312 have been either confirmed through genomic analysis to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. At least 69 are active, the health unit says.
According to the province, cases are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant if they screen positive for just a single specific spike protein mutation, named N501Y. The B.1.1.7 variant has been associated with only this mutation.
The health unit says at least 31 cases have screened positive for the E484K mutation, which has been associated with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively, and are still undergoing genomic analysis. Of those, at least 11 are still active.
The local vaccination campaign rolls on, with more than 38,100 residents seeing at least one dose of the vaccine.
Earlier this week, the health unit announced the planned opening of a third mass vaccination clinic at the Tillsonburg Community Centre. The clinic will open on Tuesday and joins two others that have been operating in St. Thomas and Woodstock.
Meanwhile, eligibility has been expanded as of Friday to include people 16 and older who are pregnant. The health unit recommends pregnant individuals speak with their health care provider.
It comes days after eligibility was expanded to people 16 and older with certain highest-risk and high-risk health conditions. Pregnancy is listed as being one of them.
Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment.
Those 50 and older in N5H are eligible to get the shot at a mass vaccination clinic, but will be required to show proof of age and proof of address. Elsewhere in SWPH, the age cut off is 60, excluding those who fall under a separate specified group.
N5H is considered a COVID-19 hot spot location by the province.
Health officials urge people to get vaccinated for the shot they’re currently eligible for, not to wait for a specific vaccine.
Even younger groups of people, those 40 and older, are eligible to get vaccinated at pharmacies across the province as part of a province-run pilot program.
Appointments should be made directly with a participating pharmacy, however waitlists are lengthy.
No new school cases appear to have been reported
Several cases, however, remain active that are associated with local schools. Full lists of active cases within Elgin-Oxford can be found on the websites of the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board.
No new outbreaks have been declared.
One remains active, located at Caressant Care Bonnie Place in St. Thomas. Declared April 2, it’s linked to three resident cases and two staff cases.
Overall, the health unit says a total of 710 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 597 have been in St. Thomas, 490 in Aylmer and 396 in Tillsonburg.
Elsewhere, 221 cases have been in Norwich, 178 in Bayham, 157 in Ingersoll, 129 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 78 in Central Elgin, 77 in Blandford-Blenheim, 71 in Zorra, 62 in South-West Oxford, 37 in Dutton/Dunwich, 27 in Southwold, 26 in West Elgin and 18 in Malahide.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 3.2 per cent the week of April 11, up from 2.9 the previous week.
Huron and Perth
Huron Perth Public Health does not provide COVID-19 updates on weekends.
As of Friday, the region’s pandemic case tally stood at 1,539, of which 1,457 have resolved. At least 52 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 13.
At least 30 cases were active in the region, the health unit said. Of those, at least 11 are in North Perth while five are in Stratford.
One person is hospitalized for COVID-19, the health unit says.
Meanwhile, the number of variant cases identified in the region stands at 72.
Of those, at least 32 have been confirmed through genomic analysis to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant, according to Public Health Ontario.
The rest remain under investigation. The health unit has not said what spike protein mutations those remaining cases screened positive for, which may indicate what variant is involved.
More than 36,820 vaccine doses have been administered in the region as of April 21, the health unit says. The tally includes both first and second doses.
As is the case across Ontario, all pregnant individuals are now eligible to receive a vaccine as they fall under the ‘highest-risk’ health condition as defined in the province’s Phase 2 rollout.
Starting early next week, Huron-Perth health officials say those 16 and older with certain high-risk health conditions will be able to book an appointment, along with all adults 60 and older who don’t already fall under a previously eligible group. (As of Friday, eligibility for age stands at those 65 and older and those turning 65 this year.)
The health unit says it will re-open its booking system with additional clinics at that point. Appointment booking has been paused temporarily as all available spots have been taken up to May 8.
More information on the local vaccine campaign and eligibility can be found on the health unit’s website.
Those looking to book an appointment once spots are available are asked to do so via the local booking system or by calling 1-833-753-2098.
People aged 40 and older are also able to receive an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as part of the province’s ongoing pharmacy immunization pilot.
Local health units are not directly involved in the pharmacy initiative, and residents are asked to contact the pharmacies directly.
The health unit says two AstraZeneca vaccine clinics took place this week, one in Goderich on Monday and one in Stratford on Thursday, doling out roughly 1,300 age-based vaccines. The clinics were arranged by the Primary Care Working Group of the Huron Perth Mass Vaccination Advisory Committee in partnership with the health unit.
At least one new school-related case has been reported in the region, involving Listowel Eastdale Public School.
The case saw no school exposure, according to the health unit. Students are in remote learning for the foreseeable future.
It’s among 10 cases active that are linked to schools. Lists can be found on the websites of the Avon-Maitland District School Board and the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.
Only two outbreaks are active in the region, both at unnamed workplaces. No other details have been released.
At least 611 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 379 in North Perth and 140 in Perth East, while at least 501 have been reported in Huron County, with 110 in South Huron and 105 in Huron East.
Stratford has reported at least 389 in total, while St. Marys has seen 38.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.7 the week of April 11, up from 1.5 the week before.
Sarnia and Lambton
Lambton Public Health reported a new death along with 10 new COVID-19 cases and 12 recoveries Saturday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,181, of which 3,049 have resolved. At least 56 deaths have been reported.
The health unit says at least 76 cases are active in the county. Bluewater Health says there were 10 COVID-19 patients in its care as of Saturday morning, a decrease of two from the previous day.
The health unit does not provide specific COVID-19 updates on weekends. The following information was last updated Friday.
As of Friday, 336 variant cases have been identified in Lambton.
Of those, at least 247 have been either confirmed through genomic analysis to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., according to the province.
- According to Public Health Ontario, the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant has been associated with the N501Y spike protein mutation, while variants B.1.351 and P.1, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively, have been associated with mutations N501Y, E484K and K417N.
- As a result, any specimens screening positive N501Y and negative for E484K are presumed by the province to involve the B.1.1.7 variant and aren’t being sent for further genomic testing.
- Specimens that screen positive for either the E484K or K417N mutations will undergo genomic testing.
The remaining 89 cases have either screened positive for the E484K mutation and are undergoing genomic analysis, or they have screened positive for N501Y but their E484K status is unknown.
More than 40,103 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Lambton County as of Tuesday, according to the most recent update from the health unit.
At least 37,763 people have received a first dose while 2,340 have received two, the update said.
Three main clinics are open in Lambton, with one at The Shores Recreation Centre, or Forest Arena, one at Point Edward Arena, and one at Wyoming Fair Grounds.
Vaccine registration is open to people 60 and older, or who are turning 60 this year, along with other previously identified groups.
More eligibility information can be found on the health unit’s website.
Eligible residents are asked to visit the health unit’s website to book an appointment or to contact the health unit at 519-383-8331, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, multiple pharmacies in Lambton are also continuing to offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to those aged 55 and older as part of the province-run pilot program. Residents are asked to book appointments with the pharmacies directly.
No new school cases were reported by the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.
It’s unclear whether any were confirmed at schools under the Lambton-Kent District School Board as officials there have paused public reporting of new cases while students are learning remotely.
Meanwhile, five outbreaks remain active in the region as of Saturday.
The health unit declared a new outbreak at North Lambton Childcare Centre in Watford on Saturday. They say the outbreak involves a staff member and a child.
Another outbreak is located in a residence of Lambton College and involves five cases, while the other three all involve unidentified workplaces, linked to 3, 7, and 8 cases, respectively.
The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 1.9 per cent as of the week of April 11, down from 2.8 the week before.
At least 143,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Lambton.
— With files from 980 CFPL’s Matthew Trevithick, Global News’ Ryan Rocca and The Canadian Press