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COVID-19: 18-year-old among 3 deaths reported in London-Middlesex; 94 cases reported

Click to play video: 'Ontario further expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to individuals 50+: Minister Elliott' Ontario further expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to individuals 50+: Minister Elliott
Ontario’s Health Minister and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott announced on Wednesday that the province is further expanding its COVID-19 vaccine rollout to individuals 50 years of age or older. – May 5, 2021

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An 18-year-old man has been identified as being one of three COVID-19-related deaths reported Thursday by the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

The individual is the youngest person to die during the pandemic in London-Middlesex as a result of COVID-19, the health unit says.

The two other deaths reported on Thursday involved a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 70s who was associated with a long-term care home. None of the deceased had been vaccinated, the health unit says.

It’s the first time since early February that London-Middlesex has recorded three COVID-19-related deaths in one day, and marks just the second time during the pandemic that a death has been reported involving someone under the age of 20.

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Health officials also reported 94 new cases on Thursday, bringing the region’s pandemic case total to 10,903. Of those, 9,792 have resolved, an increase of 90 from the day before, the health unit said.

Including the three deaths Thursday, the region’s pandemic death toll stands at 206.

At least 905 cases are currently active in the region, about the same as the day before.

The health unit says 415 cases have been reported since the start of the month. The region’s rolling seven-day case average stands at 85, down from 99 the seven days previous.

Read more: 18-year-old COVID-19 victim ‘declined very quickly,’ MLHU says

Few details have been released about the 18-year-old victim, but the health unit does not believe that the individual was a high school or post-secondary student. It’s unclear whether or not he was an essential worker.

“Unfortunately, the other people in his family are also sick and so it’s difficult for us to get full data,” Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer said during Thursday’s health unit media briefing. “We also don’t know if there were underlying medical conditions.”
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“The individual declined very quickly. So, respiratory distress, went to hospital, all passed within the same day. We essentially were informed about the case around the same time as the fatality occurred. (We) hadn’t even had a chance to begin the case investigation.”

The young man’s death hit home for London Mayor Ed Holder, who recalled the devastating loss of his stepson Bruno DaSilva, 14, in a car crash more than two decades ago.

DaSilva had been riding in the city with three friends on Dec. 20, 1996 when their vehicle collided with a fuel tanker truck. DaSilva and another teen, Ross Seabrook, 17, were killed instantly, and two others, 16 and 17, were hospitalized.

“There’s no words that describe when you’re a parent, what it is to lose a child. It’s totally devastating. You can’t plan for it,” Holder said on Thursday. “You never lose that feeling of tragedy and sadness. I liken it sometimes to a black hole with razor blades. From time to time, the razor blades go away so they don’t cut you up all the time, but the black hole never leaves.”

“For these people that have died, some old or, yes, some like this 18-year old, they all had parents. And if those parents are alive and their extended families, it’s a tragedy that never gets answered. And every family will tell that same story of heartbreak.”

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Asked whether the 18-year-old man’s death was indicative of any trends related to the local spread of COVID-19, Mackie said it was.

People under 30 have been accounting for nearly half or just over half of all cases seen every day over the last several weeks. They also make up the largest percentage of cases to involve variants.

“We’ve seen this population being hit hard by cases. It’s the first death in that population in this wave,” he said.

“But to be clear, we don’t yet understand or have information about any link between this case and the parties that we were seeing a month or so ago that were generating a lot of cases in this age group. From that perspective, we can’t definitively make a link with those high-risk behaviours.”

Read more: London Central Library closed after staff test positive for COVID-19

Of the 94 new cases reported Thursday, 85 are from London, while nine are from elsewhere in Middlesex County.

Those testing positive skew younger, with people under 30 making up 51 per cent of cases. People in their 20s, in particular, make up about 35 per cent of the cases.

At least 16 individuals are 19 or younger, 32 are in their 20s, eight are in their 30s, 12 are in their 40s, 14 are in their 50s, three are in their 60s, four are in their 70s and five are 80 or older.

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Twenty-six cases are listed as being due to close contact, while 24 have no known link, five are due to outbreak and one to travel. Thirty-eight cases have pending or undetermined exposure source data.

Confirmed/presumed variant cases and screened mutation-positive cases in London-Middlesex as of April 5, 2021. Middlesex-London Health Unit

The number of variant cases in the region rose by 26 on Thursday to a total of at least 1,663. All 26 of the cases involved the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., health unit data shows. Nearly all of the region’s variant cases, 1,654, have been the B.1.1.7 variant.

Eight cases have been confirmed to involve the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil, while one case, reported on Tuesday, was confirmed to involve the B.1.617 variant, first detected in India.

The lone B.1.617 case was linked to travel, health officials say. Few other details have been released. The province hasn’t designated the variant to be a variant of concern yet, so it does not appear in Public Health Ontario’s daily epidemiological reports.

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A separate tally from the health unit shows 276 cases in the region have screened positive for a spike protein mutation that is consistent with one or more variants but have not yet been confirmed or presumed to be a variant.

Of them, 145 have screened positive for the E484K mutation, which has been associated with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively. These cases remain under genomic analysis for confirmation.

Another 131 cases were initially found to have just the N501Y mutation, however, they have not been ruled out for E484K so they have not been added to the main variant count. (Cases with just the N501Y mutation are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant as that variant has only been associated with the N501Y mutation.) It’s unclear if the cases may be added in the future.

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U.S. supports proposal to waive vaccine patents to boost supply – May 5, 2021

Mackie says COVID-19, in particular the more contagious variants of concern, remain a problem in the London-Middlesex area and across the province.

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“We really aren’t seeing much spread of the original COVID virus. The bad news is that this new virus does spread more easily and that is a big reason why we’re seeing the (case) drop slower than the other waves,” he said.

He added it was too early to say whether the province’s stay-at-home order will need to be extended, but noted it was certainly possible, highlighting that the current rate of decline in case counts would mean at least another four weeks to get down to 1,000 cases per day province wide — around the same rate we were seeing when Ontario emerged from the second wave.

“The positive we have is that the death count is staying low. The other major risk, though, beyond cases, is ICU capacity. We’re just beginning to see that, I would say, level off in terms of the cases on ICU,” he continued.

“If the government really wants to avoid using that triage protocol where people who need ICU wouldn’t be able to access ICU because their full, then I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an extension of the stay-at-home or for some time. All of that is still, from my perspective, very much up in the air.”

Read more: Groups urge Ontario government to give health-care workers 2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose

A total of 9,780 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 341 have been in Middlesex Centre.

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Elsewhere, 316 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 142 in Thames Centre, 69 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.

Hospitalizations

Ninety-six COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre on Thursday, a decline of three from the record 99 seen on Wednesday.

Of the 96 patients, 42 are in LHSC’s intensive care units, up one from the day before. Provincial data shows 90 per cent of people in ICU were on ventilators as of Tuesday.

Thirty-two of the 96 COVID-19 patients currently in LHSC’s care are from out of the local region, the organization said, including 24 who are in the ICU.

Active staff cases at LHSC number 10, the same as the day before.

At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, no COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital as of April 26, its most recent update. At least five staff cases are active within the overall organization.

Read more: Ornge transferred 1,125 COVID-19 patients in ICUs across Ontario in April

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LHSC, like other hospitals in the region, has been fielding patients transferred from hard-hit hospitals in the Toronto area.

Earlier this week, Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s chief medical officer, said LHSC was anticipating eight transfers this week.

The organization has opened 25 additional critical care beds in recent weeks and has ramped down non-urgent scheduled surgeries as part of a provincial directive. Surgical volume is down to about half of normal.

Three of the additional critical care beds are located in the pediatric critical care unit of Children’s Hospital. On Monday, Dukelow said adult patients were in the unit, but wouldn’t say exactly how many.

An update is expected Monday.

Institutional outbreaks

One new institutional outbreak has been declared in the region.

The outbreak is located at Dearness Home and involves the facility’s 5 East area, the health unit says.

It’s among five seniors’ facility outbreaks active as of Thursday.

Three are located at the same facility, Glendale Crossing. Individual outbreaks are active in its Glanworth, Lambeth and Westminster areas.

An outbreak is also active at Kensington Village on the first floor of its long-term care home.

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At least 818 cases and 107 deaths have been linked to long-term care and retirement homes in London-Middlesex.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ontario long-term care homes easing restrictions' COVID-19: Ontario long-term care homes easing restrictions
COVID-19: Ontario long-term care homes easing restrictions – May 5, 2021

The new cases come less than a week after the Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission released a report that called for an overhaul of the sector.

The report laid blame at the feet of the former Liberal government and Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives, who were slow to respond in the early weeks of the pandemic.

It said the government hadn’t yet formalized its response structure when outbreaks first set in at long-term care homes, and it was making up emergency measures as it went along.

It also called for the government to consider how nursing homes are managed, focusing on quality care, and took issue with care homes that are owned by investors.

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The report and the government’s response to the pandemic has dominated question period, with opposition politicians repeatedly calling for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton to step down.

On Wednesday, Fullerton reiterated the province is committed to improving conditions in the sector, pointing to plans to increase staffing and create more beds.

However, she stopped short of committing to a permanent wage increase for personal service workers and indicated room for “mission-driven,” for-profit care homes in the future of long-term care in Ontario.

Read more: Doug Ford defends Ontario LTC minister after scathing commission report

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

Declared on Jan. 18, the outbreak has seen at least 60 inmate cases and 43 staff cases reported.

At least one inmate case was listed as being active at the jail on Tuesday, according to provincial data.

Outbreaks also remain active at one Western residence and two child-care facilities.

Those details can be found below.

Schools

One new school case has been reported in the region and a school outbreak has been declared over.

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The case, reported late Wednesday night, involves Sir Arthur Currie Public School, according to the Thames Valley District School Board.

The case is the only one currently active in London-Middlesex involving an elementary or secondary school, the health unit says.

The resolved outbreak involved St. Andre Bessette Secondary School and was declared active on April 20. It was deemed over as of late Wednesday.

At least 351 cases have been reported involving local elementary and secondary schools during the pandemic.

Read more: Moderna says COVID-19 booster shot increases protection against some variants

Parents and guardians now have until June 1 to decide whether they want their child to take part in in-person or full remote learning during the upcoming fall school year.

Previously, local parents had to make up their minds today for those in the Catholic board, and by next Thursday for those in TVDSB.

During Thursday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie said he was recommending that parents choose in-person learning, citing low rate of COVID in students locally, and the recent news involving the vaccine and children.

Health Canada recently authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people aged 12 to 15.

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“On the heels of the death that we had in an 18-year-old today, the importance of vaccinating children could not be more apparent, so this is tremendously positive news,” Mackie said.

“We don’t have information on timing there. We haven’t got provincial direction yet around how children should be prioritized relative to other groups. But hopefully by the fall we can start vaccinating children as young as 12.

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Health Canada approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for Canadians 12 and over – May 5, 2021

In the local child-care sector, at least 14 cases remain active, along with two outbreaks.

At least 10 cases are located at London Bridge: Rowntree Park Early Childhood Learning Centre in London, where an outbreak declaration has been active since April 25.

The facility has closed until at least next week as a result of the high cases.

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Elsewhere, two cases are active involving Angels Daycares Komoka, according to the health unit. An outbreak declaration has been active there since April 28.

One case each is active involving Glen Cairn Child Care and London Bridge: Adelaide Early Childhood Learning Centre, the health unit said.

At least 84 cases have been reported in child care/early years settings during the pandemic.

Read more: U.S. IP waiver support rocks COVID-19 vaccine makers

In the post-secondary world, one student residence remains active at Western University.

The outbreak, declared April 8 at Perth Hall, has been tied to at least 31 cases, according to the health unit.

Eight student residence outbreaks have been reported since late March, linked to a total of at least 196 cases. All of them except the Perth Hall outbreak have been deemed resolved.

Vaccinations and testing

More than 190,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered locally so far, factoring in doses given through mass vaccination clinics, mobile clinics, pharmacies, and primary care settings.

That number is expected to top 200,000 sometime on Saturday, said Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, during Thursday’s media briefing.

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As of Thursday, people 50 and older and people turning 50 this year can book an appointment to get the vaccine at a local clinic.

In addition, the first of two provincially designated groups of essential workers who can’t work from home are also able to book a spot.

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.

The province’s current vaccination timeline aims to have all people 18 and older eligible to get the vaccine by the week of May 24 thanks to an expected surge in vaccine doses.

Read more: Canada should ‘join forces’ with U.S. to support waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents, expert says

So far, Mackie says roughly 22,000 doses of AstraZeneca have been doled out at pharmacies and around 6,000 through primary care settings.

Provincewide, he estimates that roughly 1,700 cases, 61 hospitalizations, and six deaths have been prevented with the roughly 900,000 AstraZeneca doses that have been administered across Ontario to people between the ages of 40 and 60.

It’s this cohort, he says, who have seen the vast majority of AstraZeneca shots through the pharmacy pilot and through primary care settings.

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“That’s not to speak of the the spin off benefits to vaccinating those 900,000 people between 40 and 60, which would have included thousands of additional cases prevented in people that they would have spread the virus to.”

The pharmacy program is being led by the province. Residents aged 40 and older are asked to book a spot with the pharmacies themselves.

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Canada becomes first country to approve Pfizer vaccine for children 12-15 – May 6, 2021

 

Three mass vaccination clinics remain in operation, but with the expected bump in vaccine doses, officials expect to open the fourth this month at Earl Nichols Arena.

“We will be able to announce our date for Nichols next week. We’re confirming the logistics there and we’ll be able to announce when Nichols will open next week.”

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Mackie said the health unit did not have any plans to open a 24-hour vaccination clinic, despite the expected increase in vaccines and the jump in the number of people eligible to get the shot.

“We really don’t have a need for 24 hour vaccinations right now. We Run 12 hour clinics seven days a week. We haven’t had any complaints about hours of of clinics being an access issue,” he said.

Mackie said staffing challenges, mainly around recruiting people for supervisor positions, is also a main stumbling block in opening an all-day clinic.

“Although there are lots of vaccinators, and we can add vaccinator capacity to have higher flow clinics as we need, and we do, we can’t really add shifts very easily because that requires additional supervisory capacity, which is really scarce.”

The health unit also also burning through its allotted vaccine as quickly as its coming in, he said.

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.

Read more: Risk of blood clots appears ‘even more rare’ on 2nd AstraZeneca dose, experts say

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Ontario

Ontario is reporting 3,424 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 26 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 958 new cases in Toronto, 900 in Peel and 291 in York Region

She also says there are 175 new cases in Durham Region and 155 in Hamilton.

Thursday’s data is based on more than 54,100 tests completed.

The Ministry of Health says 1,964 people are hospitalized because of the novel coronavirus, with 877 in intensive care and 600 on a ventilator.

Ontario says that 141,038 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Wednesday’s report, for a total of more than 5.7 million.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 3,400 new COVID-19 cases, 26 deaths

Meanwhile, groups representing thousands of health-care workers say their members need to be prioritized for full immunization from COVID-19 as they work with patients hospitalized with the virus.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, Canadian Union of Public Employees and Service Employees International Union say they have asked the province to accelerate second doses for the workers but have received no commitment.

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Health-care workers were among the initial groups to be prioritized for a first dose of the shot.

Since Ontario’s vaccine effort began, however, the province has extended dosing intervals for COVID-19 shots from 21 days to four months due to supply shortages.

The group representing the health-care workers say the government needs to ensure the employees get second doses soon because they remain at risk when working with patients who have more transmissible COVID-19 variants.

A spokeswoman for the health minister says as the province receives more vaccines it may eventually be able to shorten the dosing interval for all Ontarians.

Ontario says it expects 65 per cent of adults to have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May.

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Elgin and Oxford

Seventeen new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported on Thursday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,490, of which 3,297 have resolved, an increase of 16 from the day before. At least 76 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 23.

The health unit says 117 cases remain active in the region, including 27 each in St. Thomas and Tillsonburg and 26 in Woodstock.

At least 13 people from the SWPH region are currently in hospital, including five in intensive care, the health unit says.

The number of variant cases in the region stands at 536, an increase of 13 from the day before.

(It should be noted the tally includes confirmed and presumed cases, and cases which screened positive for a spike protein mutation common to a variant but which are still undergoing genomic analysis.)

At least 473 cases have either been confirmed to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K, while at least two cases have been confirmed to involve the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.

Read more: Canada slaps 2 with thousands in fines for faked COVID-19 pre-flight tests

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The two P.1 cases reported did not have a direct connection to travel, according to health officials.

“We have transmission of these variants. They were introduced into Canada from other parts of the world, but now they have their foothold within Ontario, and locally, we are seeing 70 per cent of our cases as being variants of concern,” said Dr. Joyce Lock, the region’s medical officer of health.

Another 61 cases are undergoing genomic analysis after they were found to have a spike protein mutation, E484K, which is consistent with the P.1 and B.1.351 variants, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.

Another 61 cases are undergoing genomic analysis after they were found to have a spike protein mutation, E484K, which is consistent with the P.1 and B.1.351 variants, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.

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Travel Best Bets: Global support for vaccine passports – May 6, 2021

As of Thursday, people 50 and older, and people turning 50 this year, are eligible to get the vaccine at a local vaccination clinic.

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In addition, residents who fall under the first group of essential workers who can’t work from home are also be eligible. The health unit says people who fall under the essential worker group will require a username and password provided by their employer to book a slot.

Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment.

Nearly 70,000 SWPH residents have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, about 32 per cent of the total population.

Health officials are asking for patience from residents with demand for the vaccine still outpacing supply.

Elsewhere in the region, people in the N5H postal code who are 18 and older have been eligible to get the vaccine since the start of the week. The region is considered a COVID-19 hot spot by the province.

Local health officials say residents of the N5H postal area, centered around Aylmer, must provide proof of age and residence to gain access to an appointment at a local vaccine clinic.

The postal code has the lowest vaccination rate in SWPH and one of the lowest in Ontario, according to data from ICES.

Looking at all age groups, the percentage of people who have gotten at least one shot is just under 18 per cent. In contrast, N5L, centered around Port Stanley, has among the highest percentages in the province with 43 per cent.

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Lock says the health unit has had no trouble filling appointments when vaccine eligibility has expanded, but says she suspects there may be a degree of vaccine hesitancy among some residents of the N5H area.

“What the ultimate outcome will be as to how many will be vaccine hesitant, that’s not clear yet. Right now, it’s a little difficult to know whether this is an issue of vaccine access or that issue of vaccine hesitancy,” Lock said.

“That said, we are working with health care providers and some other community groups within that postal code to find fresh ways and to reach out to members of that community to ensure that they have what they need to make an informed decision about receiving the vaccine.”

Read more: Herd immunity for COVID-19 may not be reached in Canada, experts say

One new outbreak has been declared in the region, located at Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital.

At least three patient cases and two staff cases have been reported as a result of the outbreak, according to the health unit.

Few other details have been released.

It’s one of two outbreaks active in the region. The other was declared on April 29 at Caressant Care Nursing Home in Woodstock, linked to three resident and five staff cases.

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Elsewhere, no new school cases were reported by the Thames Valley or London District Catholic school boards.

The health unit says at least 767 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, followed by 639 in St. Thomas, 503 in Aylmer, and 434 in Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, at least 231 have been in Norwich Township, while 183 have been in Bayham, 170 in Ingersoll, 135 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 85 in Central Elgin, 82 in Blandford-Blenheim, 75 in Zorra, 66 in South-West Oxford, 45 in Dutton/Dunwich, 28 in Southwold, 28 in West Elgin, and 18 in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 3.2 per cent as of the week of April 25, figures released this week show. The figure is down from 3.5 the week prior.

Huron and Perth

Eleven new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Huron-Perth, local health officials said on Thursday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,604, an increase of just 10. The health unit says one previously confirmed case was reassigned to a different health unit.

At least 1,512 cases have resolved, an increase of three from the day before, and at least 53 deaths have been reported, most recently on Monday.

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The health unit says four of Thursday’s cases were reported in South Huron, while two each are from Huron East, Morris Turnberry and Stratford. One case is from North Perth.

At least 39 cases are currently active in Huron-Perth, including 11 in North Perth and six in Stratford.

One person is currently hospitalized for COVID-19.

Read more: COVID-19: Toronto woman charged after gatherings reportedly held at Innisfil Airbnb

At least 115 variant cases have been reported in the region, five more than the day before. At least 16 are still active.

Public Health Ontario says at least 61 of the variant cases have either been confirmed to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.

The remaining cases are still under investigation. Few other details have been released.

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Some provinces ramp up plans after Canada approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids ages 12 and up – May 5, 2021

As of Thursday, people 50 and older, and people turning 50 this year, are now eligible to book an appointment for a vaccine at a local clinic.

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Residents who fall under the province’s first group of people who cannot work from home are also eligible.

Those looking to book an appointment are asked to do so via the local booking system or by calling 1-833-753-2098.

More information on the local vaccine campaign and eligibility can be found on the health unit’s website.

Elsewhere, several local pharmacies are still offering vaccine doses of AstraZeneca. Bookings should be done with the pharmacies themselves.

More than 50,000 people have been vaccinated so far in Huron-Perth as of Wednesday.

Read more: Quebec adds more than 900 new COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations dip

No new school cases have been reported. Six are currently active in the region. Lists can be found on the websites of the Avon-Maitland District School Board and the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.

No new outbreaks have been declared. Two are active, including one at Fordwich Village, a long-term care home in Howick. It’s linked to at least two staff cases and was declared active on Friday.

Elsewhere, an outbreak is active at an unnamed congregate living setting, the health unit said.

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A total of 637 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 399 in North Perth and 145 in Perth East, while 529 have been reported in Huron County, with 116 in South Huron and 107 in Huron East.

Stratford has reported at least 399 in total, while St. Marys has seen 39.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.0 per cent the week of April 25, about the same as the week before.

Sarnia and Lambton

Nine new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lambton County, local health officials reported on Thursday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,296, of which 3,156 have resolved, an increase of nine from the day before. At least 56 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 24.

Eighty-four cases remain active in the region, the same as the day before. Bluewater Health says 14 people with COVID-19 are in their care, one more than the day before.

Provincial data shows at least nine people were in the ICU in Sarnia as of Tuesday, with all on ventilators.

The number of variant cases reported in Lambton stands at 415, three more than the day before.

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(It should be noted the tally includes confirmed and presumed cases, and cases which screened positive for a spike protein mutation common to a variant but which are still undergoing genomic analysis.)

At least 282 of the cases have either been confirmed to be, or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., according to Public Health Ontario.

At least one case has been confirmed to be the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.

Note on the presumption of B.1.1.7 cases:

  • 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 132 cases have either screened positive for the E484K spike protein mutation and are undergoing genomic analysis, or they screened positive for N501Y but their E484K status is unknown.

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Oxford University researcher weighs in on new Alberta public health measures – May 6, 2021

As of Thursday, people 50 and older, and people turning 50 this year, are now eligible to book an appointment for a vaccine at a local clinic.

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Residents who fall under the province’s first group of people who cannot work from home are also eligible.

Eligible residents are being encouraged to book appointments for the vaccine through the health unit’s website.

“As vaccine supply increases, eligibility will continue to expand over the next few weeks. The Government is expected to open registration to the second group of essential workers who cannot work from home the week of May 10,” the health unit said Thursday.

The health unit says more than 53,409 doses have been administered so far by the health unit, Bluewater Health, and primary care clinics and pharmacies.

The amount equals about 45 per cent of Lambton’s eligible population having received at least one dose.

People with questions about the booking process can contact the health unit’s new call centre at 226-254-8222. The health unit says its main number, 519-383-8331, is still available to field other inquires.

The AstraZeneca shot is continuing to be administered at some local pharmacies to people who are 40 and older as part of a provincial program.

Bookings should be made with the pharmacies themselves.

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Both the Lambton-Kent District School Board and St. Clair Catholic District School Board have paused the reporting of new cases during the remote learning period.

Two outbreaks have been declared over, including one at Lambton College. An outbreak there had been declared in a student residence on April 19 and was linked to 12 cases.

The other resolved outbreak had been active at North Lambton Childcare Centre-St. Peter Canisius Site in Watford since April 23, linked to two cases.

Four outbreaks remain active, all at unnamed workplaces, linked to a total of 18 cases.

The health unit says the region’s per cent positivity was 1.9 per cent as of the week of April 25.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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