Two people have died and 76 others have tested positive for COVID-19, the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported on Friday, as the region’s death toll hit 200, as more people became eligible for the vaccine, and as officials reported another case involving the P.1 variant.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 10,382, of which 9,238 have resolved, an increase of 84 from the day before.
At least 200 COVID-19-related deaths have now been reported in the region during the pandemic. The most recent deaths involved a man and woman in their 60s, according to the health unit. The health unit also reported a death on Thursday that involved a person in their 60s.
As of Friday, at least 944 cases are active in London-Middlesex, a decrease of nine from the day before.
So far this month, the region has recorded at least 3,200 cases, nearly 1,000 more than January 2021 which stands as the second-worst month for cases.
The region’s rolling seven-day case average stands at 94, down from the 102 seen the seven days previous.
Roughly 6.8 per cent of tests in London-Middlesex were coming back positive as of the week of April 18, new data shows, a decline from the 7.0 per cent seen a week earlier.
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Of the 76 new cases reported on Friday, all are from London, the health unit says.
Those positive with the virus skew younger, as has been the trend over the last several weeks. Fifty-seven per cent of cases involve people under 40.
At least 11 are 19 or younger; 16 are in their 20s; 17 are in their 30s; nine each are in their 40s and 50s; 10 are in their 60s; three are in their 70s; and one is 80 or older.
Close contact is listed as the exposure source for 33 cases, while no known link is listed for 21 cases. At least 17 have pending or undetermined exposure source data, while three are due to travel and two to outbreak, the health unit says.
The health unit says more variant cases continue to be confirmed in the London region, with one new case linked to the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.
It brings the number of P.1 cases confirmed in London-Middlesex to five. Two were reported yesterday. The cases are likely several weeks old and just recently finished undergoing genomic analysis.
The number of variant cases identified in the region stands at 1,571, of which 1,566 have been B.1.1.7.
No new cases related to the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., were reported on Friday.
The health unit notes that its overall variant tally includes cases presumed to be B.1.1.7, as well as cases that have undergone genomic analysis and confirmed to involve a variant of some kind.
- 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.
- 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 mutation 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 272, an increase of three from the day before. (The tally will fluctuate as cases undergo genomic analysis and are confirmed.)
Of those 273 cases, 141 were found to have the E484K mutation, consistent with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants. They are under genomic analysis. (Of the 141, at least 118 had both the E484K and N501Y mutations.)
The remaining 131 cases were initially found to have just the N501Y mutation, however they have not been ruled out for E484K. As a result, they are not being presumed B.1.1.7 and added to the main variant tally. It’s unclear if or when these cases may be added.
At least 9,296 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 328 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 298 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 138 in Thames Centre, 67 in Lucan Biddulph, 56 in North Middlesex, 53 in Southwest Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.
At least 129 cases have pending location information.
At least 87 COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre on Friday, a decrease of eight from the day before.
At least 42 of those patients are in intensive care, the organization said, a decrease of two from Thursday. Eight LHSC staff are currently positive for COVID-19, three more than the day before.
A record 44 COVID-19 patients were in the ICU on Wednesday with at least 38 on ventilators, according to the most recent provincial data. ICU occupancy at University and Victoria hospitals stood at between 96 and 100 per cent that day, the data shows.
At St. Joseph’s Hospital, meantime, no COVID-19 patients were listed as being in its care as of Monday, it’s most recent update. Seven staff cases are active within St. Joseph’s Health Care London, however it’s not clear in which facility the staff work.
LHSC and other southwestern Ontario hospitals continue to take in patients from hard-hit hospitals in the Toronto area.
Earlier this week, an LHSC official said the organization was expecting between two and six patients to be transferred into their care every day this week. LHSC admitted an average of 6.8 COVID-19 patients per day between April 21 and 27, according to provincial data.
Over the last several weeks, LHSC has opened up at least 25 new critical care beds to deal with the increasing pressure, along with curbing non-urgent scheduled procedures per a provincial directive. Surgical capacity at LHSC stood at around 50 per cent of normal levels as of Monday, according to the organization.
At least 525 people in London-Middlesex have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 91 who have needed intensive care, the health unit says.
The health unit says no new outbreaks have been declared at health-care institutions, and none are active as of Friday.
No long-term care or retirement homes have been active since early April.
The facilities, which account for about 800 of the region’s cases and 106 of its deaths, were hammered during the first and second waves of the pandemic.
Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission is set to submit its final report to the provincial government Friday.
The commission has examined what went wrong in the province’s response to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Thursday, 3,768 long-term care residents have died of COVID-19 in Ontario.
The report is to include recommendations on how the province can protect long-term care homes from any future pandemics. The commission has already released two sets of interim recommendations.
An outbreak declaration remains active at the city’s jail.
The Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre has had an active outbreak since Jan. 18, linked to at least 59 inmates and 43 staff cases.
As of Wednesday, no inmate cases were active at the facility. No data was available for staff cases.
A workplace outbreak is also still considered active at Cargill. The facility was closed for over a week, but resumed production a week ago Friday.
At least 122 cases have been associated with the outbreak, but none have been reported in the last several days, health officials said Thursday.
Outbreaks also remain active at several schools, child care centres, and Western University student residences. Information on those can be found in the below section.
No new school cases have been reported, according to the health unit and local school boards.
One case is active at Rick Hansen Public School.
The health unit says at least 350 cases associated with elementary and secondary schools have been reported in the region during the pandemic.
No change has been reported in the number of outbreak declarations that are still active at local schools as of Friday:
- École élémentaire catholique Frère André
- Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School
- Providence Reformed Collegiate
- St. Andre Bessette Secondary School
- St. Francis School
In addition to the school cases, at least 74 cases have been reported at local child care and early years settings, including several in the last week.
At least 11 cases are active that have been associated with London Bridge: Rowntree Park Early Childhood Learning Centre, unchanged from the day before.
The facility has had an outbreak declaration active since April 25. Officials with London Bridge say the centre has been closed and will remain closed until at least May 13.
“We have conducted a deep clean of the centre and will continue to partner with Public Health to plan for a safe reopening,” said Angela Woodburn, co-executive director of London Bridge Child Care Services, in an email Thursday.
“We recognize the disruption this causes for families and our thoughts are with all the children, their families and London Bridge educators who are impacted.”
Elsewhere, three cases are active that are associated with Angels Daycares Komoka, which saw an outbreak declared on Wednesday.
Two cases are active involving Miss B’s Childcare, which has had an active outbreak declaration since Saturday.
One case each is active associated with the following facilities, the health unit says:
- Deb’s Daycare
- Grand Avenue Child Care Centre
- London Bridge: Adelaide Early Childhood Learning Centre
- London Children’s Connection: Westminster Children’s Centre
In post-secondary, two more student residence outbreaks were declared over late Thursday, the health unit said.
One outbreak was active at London Hall while the other was at Saugeen-Maitland Hall.
The London Hall outbreak, declared April 16, was linked to at least 10 cases, while the Saugeen-Maitland Hall outbreak, declared on March 26, was linked to at least 55 cases, the most of any residence outbreak declared over the last month.
It’s the third day in a row that a Western residence outbreak has been resolved. An outbreak at Medway-Sydenham Hall, declared March 31 and linked to at least 34 cases, was declared over on Wednesday.
An outbreak at Essex Hall, declared April 4 and linked to 12 cases, was deemed over on Tuesday.
Over the weekend, an outbreak at Ontario Hall, declared March 25 and linked to 18 cases, was resolved.
It leaves three active outbreaks at Western student residences.
- Elgin Hall – 15
- Delaware Hall – 21 + 1 under investigation
- Perth Hall – 31
Including the now-resolved Essex Hall, London Hall, Medway-Sydenham Hall, Ontario Hall, and Saugeen-Maitland Hall outbreaks, Western student residence outbreaks declared since late March have been linked to at least 196 cases.
Vaccinations and Testing
People 55 and older, and people turning 55 this year, are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a local mass vaccination clinic, along with younger people in previously identified groups.
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 mass vaccination clinics. Online appointments are encouraged due to the high call volume.
Eligibility is expected to expand next week to people 50 and older, as outlined in a new and aggressive vaccination timeline released Thursday by the province, which aims to have all Ontarians over the age of 18 able to book a vaccine appointment by the week of May 24 should expected vaccine supply hold.
The province is expecting larger volumes of vaccines, largely in the form of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. The province is expected to receive over 4 million of those doses in May and more than 3.7 million in June.
During Thursday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said the health unit believes it will be able to keep pace with that “aggressive” timeline, within a couple of days of the province.
Group 1 of 2: Essential front line workers who can’t work from home. Roughly 160,000 vaccine doses have been administered locally so far, with about 23,240 immunizations just over the last week at the region’s three main vaccination centres.
“That’s an average of over 3,000 per day. And we’ll see a little bit of a dip next week, but really accelerating in the weeks after that,” Mackie said during Thursday’s briefing.
According to health unit figures, roughly 30 to 35 per cent of local adults have seen at least one dose of vaccine. The provincial target was 40 per cent by May 1, something Mackie said the health unit still hoped to meet.
Lacklustre vaccine supply over the last several weeks has kept the health unit from opening its planned fourth vaccination clinic at Earl Nichols Arena.
Mackie says the facility is planned to open within the next month as a result of the increased vaccine shipments expected into Ontario.
Mackie says the region won’t be greatly impacted by the province’s plans to allocate half of its COVID-19 vaccine doses to designated hot spots over the next two weeks.
The London-Middlesex region is expecting to see its usual roughly 13,000 Pfizer doses next week and the week after.
“Essentially what has happened is that our surge in vaccine will be pushed back two weeks later than it would have otherwise occurred,” Mayor Holder said.
While he would have preferred the local vaccine dose surge to begin sooner, Holder said the fact that the region’s existing vaccine supplies will be maintained during the two week hot spot blitz is welcome news.
“The fact is, we only need to look at the number of people from out of town currently being cared for in our local ICU to realize that hot spots, wherever they are, have an impact on us here in London,” he said.
Locally, vaccine doses are continuing to be administered through primary care facilities and pharmacies.
Mackie says roughly 5,700 AstraZeneca doses were allocated to primary care sites, and 21,000 to pharmacies. Data, however, is limited as to how immunizations there are going.
The pharmacy program is being led by the province. Residents 40 and older are asked to book a spot with the pharmacies themselves.
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.
Ontario is reporting 3,887 new cases of COVID-19 today and 21 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 1,331 new cases in Toronto, 871 in Peel Region, and 267 in York Region.
She also says there are 208 new cases in Durham Region and 204 in Hamilton.
Today’s data is based on more than 53,000 completed tests.
The Ministry of Health says 2,201 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 _ 883 are in intensive care and 632 are on a ventilator.
Ontario says 112,214 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Thursday’s report for a total of 5,139,984 shots given in the province.
Meanwhile, Ontario is asking the federal government to impose mandatory three-day quarantines in hotels for travellers entering Canada at land crossings.
Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones say they’re making the request in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
Travellers arriving at Canada’s international airports currently have to stay in a specially designated hotel for three days before completing a 14-day quarantine at home.
The province says there are reports of international travellers booking return flights into nearby American airports, taking a taxi to a United States-Canada land crossing, and walking or driving across the border.
Elgin and Oxford
Fourteen new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported on Friday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,406, of which 3,192 have resolved, an increase of 17 from the day before. At least 76 deaths have been reported during the pandemic, most recently on April 23.
At least 138 cases are active in the region as of Friday, down three from the day before. At least 40 cases are active in Woodstock, 28 in St. Thomas, and 22 in Tillsonburg.
The health unit says at least 10 people from SWPH are in local hospitals with COVID-19, including two in ICU. At least six people were on ventilators on Wednesday, provincial data shows.
The number of variant cases identified in the region stands at 387, an increase of seven from the day before.
Of those, at least 345 have been determined to be the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., the health unit says. At least 30 of those cases are active.
Meanwhile, another 42 cases have screened positive for the spike protein mutation E484K, which has been associated with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.
These cases are still undergoing genomic analysis to confirm a specific variant. Of those, 11 are still active.
People 55 and older, and those turning 55 this year, are now vaccine-eligible, in addition to younger people in previously identified groups.
Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment.
Three mass vaccination clinics are in operation, including one in Tillsonburg which opened on Tuesday. The others are located in St. Thomas and Woodstock.
Meanwhile, starting next week, people 18 and older living in the N5H postal area, centred around Aylmer, will be vaccine-eligible. The region is a designated hot spot. Proof of address will be required upon visiting one of the region’s mass vaccination clinics.
The province announced Thursday that it would be sending half of its available vaccine doses over the next two weeks to such hot spots.
Vaccinations are also ongoing at some local pharmacies as part of the provincial pilot program. People 40 and older can get vaccinated at a participating pharmacy. Appointments must be made with the pharmacy itself.
Roughly 59,000 residents in SWPH have seen at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
No new outbreaks have been declared and none are active.
No new school cases were reported. Two remain active, with one at Arthur Voaden Secondary School in St. Thomas and Winchester Street Public School in Woodstock.
At least 747 of the region’s cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic. Elsewhere, St. Thomas has seen 618, while Aylmer has reported 500 and Tillsonburg 419.
Elsewhere, 225 cases have been in Norwich, 180 in Bayham, 165 in Ingersoll, 129 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 84 in Central Elgin, 80 in Blandford-Blenheim, 75 in Zorra, 65 in South-West Oxford, 45 in Dutton/Dunwich, 28 in Southwold, 27 in West Elgin and 18 in Malahide.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 3.5 per cent as of the week of April 18, figures released this week show. The tally is up from 3.3 per cent the previous week, and 2.9 the week before that.
Huron and Perth
Three new COVID-19 cases have been reported in the Huron-Perth region, local health officials reported on Friday.
Two cases were reported in Goderich and one in Howick.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,573 of which 1,490 have resolved, an increase of seven from the day before. At least 52 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 13.
The health unit says 31 cases are active, down four from the day before. At least 10 active cases are in North Perth, seven are in Central Huron, and six are in Stratford. At least one person is in hospital, the health unit says.
The number of variant cases in the region now stands at 99, an increase of seven from the previous day.
Forty-five of those cases have been confirmed through genomic analysis to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant, according to Public Health Ontario. Nineteen variant cases are still active.
The remaining cases are still under investigation.
People 55 and older can now book an appointment to get the vaccine, along with people turning 55 this year, and other previously identified groups.
The health unit says spots are open for between May 18 and 29. Those looking to book an appointment are asked to do so via the local booking system or by calling 1-833-753-2098.
Vaccinations are also still ongoing at local pharmacies for people 40 and older. As the immunizations are being done as part of a provincial program, bookings should be done with the pharmacies themselves.
More information on the local vaccine campaign and eligibility can be found on the health unit’s website.
More than 46,791 vaccine doses have been administered in Huron-Perth as of Friday, according to the health unit.
More than 90 per cent of people 70 and older have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, while 69 per cent of people aged 65-69 have gotten one shot, and 43 per cent of people aged 60-64.
No new school cases have been reported. At least 10 school-linked cases are active in the region.
No new outbreaks have been declared. One is active at an unnamed workplace.
A total of 626 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 390 in North Perth and 144 in Perth East, while 514 have been reported in Huron County, with 110 in South Huron and 105 in Huron East.
Stratford has reported at least 395 in total, while St. Marys has seen 38.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.1 the week of April 18, down from 1.7 the week previous.
Sarnia and Lambton
Eleven new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lambton County, local health officials reported on Friday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,238, of which 3,104 cases have resolved, an increase of nine from the day before. At least 56 deaths have been reported, most recently on Saturday.
At least 78 cases are active, an increase of two from the day before.
Bluewater Health says 11 people are in hospital in Sarnia, unchanged from a day earlier. As of Wednesday, at least six people were in ICU, including four on ventilators, the most so far during the third wave, provincial data shows.
The health unit says 383 variant cases have been identified in Lambton so far, an increase of eight from the day before.
Provincial data shows at least one of those cases involves the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil. The case is the first to be confirmed in Lambton so far.
At least 260 others have been either confirmed through genomic analysis to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant, 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 mutation will undergo genomic testing.
The remaining 112 cases have either screened positive for the E484K mutation and are undergoing genomic analysis, or screened positive for N501Y but their E484K status is unknown.
“While our current case count in the region is relatively low, our situation is still extremely precarious and could change at any moment if we let our guard down,” said Dr. Sudit Ranade, the region’s medical officer of health, in a statement on Friday.
“We have highly transmissible Variants of Concern (VOCs) circulating in the community which is very concerning. The best way to stop transmission is to follow all public health guidelines. That means limiting your contacts as much as possible to your household, physical distancing, using a mask, staying home if you have symptoms, and regular hand washing.”
People 55 and older, and people turning 55 this year, are now vaccine-eligible, along with younger people in previously identified groups.
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.
More eligibility information can be found on the health unit’s website.
The health unit says more than 47,051 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Lambton so far, more than 40 per cent of the eligible population.
The AstraZeneca shot is also continuing to be administered at some local pharmacies to people 40 and older as part of a provincial program.
Bookings should be made with the pharmacies themselves.
No new school cases were reported by the St. Clair Catholic District School Board and none are active there.
Meanwhile, the Lambton-Kent District School Board has paused public reporting of new cases while students are learning remotely.
No new outbreaks have been declared, but four remain active, including one in a student residence at Lambton College in Sarnia that has been tied to at least 12 cases.
Another active outbreak involves North Lambton Childcare Centre – St. Peter Canisus Site, linked to two cases, unchanged from the day before.
The two other outbreaks are both located at unnamed workplaces, involving three and nine cases, respectively.
The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 2.1 per cent the week of April 18, up from 1.9 per cent the week prior, but still below the 2.8 per cent seen the week of April 4.
— With files from The Canadian Press