Eighty-one new COVID-19 cases have been reported in London-Middlesex, local health officials said on Wednesday.
Officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit also revealed that the region’s fourth mass vaccination clinic will officially open on May 25 at Earl Nichols Recreation Centre.
The update brings the region’s pandemic case total to 11,346, of which 10,320 have resolved, an increase of 75 from the day before. At least 210 deaths have been reported, including 10 this month. The most recent COVID-19-related death was reported on Sunday.
According to the health unit, 816 cases are active in the region as of Wednesday.
At least 857 cases have been reported since the start of the month. The region’s rolling seven-day case average is 76.5 as of Wednesday (May 5-11), down from 86.7 the seven days prior.
In contrast, the seven-day average for April 5-11 was 124.8.
Of the 81 new cases reported Wednesday, 77 are from London while four are from elsewhere in Middlesex County.
Those infected skew younger with 62 per cent of cases involving people under 40. Nearly half are under 30.
Nineteen cases involve people 19 or younger; 19 are in their 20s; 13 are in their 30s; 12 are in their 40s; nine are in their 50s; three are in their 60s; two are in their 70s; and four are 80 or older.
Close contact is listed as being the exposure source for 37 cases, while 21 are pending such data, 19 have no known link, and four are due to outbreak.
The number of confirmed/presumed* variant cases recorded in London-Middlesex stands at 2,198 as of Wednesday, an increase of 21 from the day before.
Nearly all of them, 2,177, involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.
Twenty have involved the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil, while one, reported last week, has involved the B.1.617 variant, first detected in India, both unchanged from the day before.
- Positive COVID-19 cases undergo initial screening for spike protein mutations common to variants (including N501Y, E484K and K417N), and if found to have one or more, undergo further genomic analysis to determine the specific variant involved (such as 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 N501Y. Those cases are presumed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, as the variant has only been associated with that mutation.
- Cases that screen positive for either E484K or K417N 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 shows at least 287 cases have screened positive for a spike protein mutation consistent with one or more variants.
At least 156 of them are in the process of genomic analysis, as they screened positive for the E484K mutation. At least 116 also screened positive for N501Y.
Another 131 cases were initially found to have just the N501Y mutation, but since they have not been ruled out for E484K, they are not being presumed B.1.1.7 yet.
More information is expected Thursday during a scheduled media briefing.
A total of 10,204 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 348 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 323 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 145 in Thames Centre, 71 in Lucan Biddulph, 56 in North Middlesex, 54 in Southwest Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and three in Newbury.
At least 127 cases have pending location information.
At least 71 COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre as of Wednesday, a decrease of five from the day before.
Of those, at least 37 are in intensive care, down four from the day before.
Active staff cases at LHSC number two, a decrease of three from Tuesday.
The number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized is a notable decrease from last week, when at least two patient records were set — 99 on May 4 and 100 on May 7.
St. Joseph’s Health Care London says no COVID-19 patients are in its care at any of its facilities, however three cases are active among the organization’s staff.
During Monday’s media briefing, Carol Young-Ritchie, LHSC’s executive vice-president, chief clinical officer and chief nursing officer, said that while the early signs of stabilization were encouraging, hospitalization numbers were still significantly high across Ontario.
“Whether this period of stability will lead to a downturn will depend on the actions of our communities,” she said, urging people to follow pandemic restrictions.
LHSC was anticipating between five and 10 patients from out of the region this week, Young-Ritchie said, noting that while transfers have “slowed down a little bit” they were still continuing.
At least 25 additional critical care beds have been opened by LHSC to deal with the capacity crunch.
The organization has also reduced surgical volumes by half to free up space and staff as part of a provincial directive. Urgent and emergent cases are still being handled.
“We don’t anticipate reducing any further, and actually we’re looking for a revision of directive too, and anticipating that sometime this week,” Young-Ritchie said.
At least 610 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 in London-Middlesex, the health unit says. Of those, at least 101 have needed intensive care.
One new institutional outbreak has been declared in the region while two have been resolved, the health unit said.
The new outbreak has been declared at McGarrell Place in its Windermere Way area.
The two resolved outbreaks were both located at Glendale Crossing in its Lambeth and Westminster Areas. One outbreak is still active at the facility in its Glanworth area.
Elsewhere, outbreaks are active at Dearness Home (5 East, 5 West), Kensington Village (1st floor long-term care) and Kensington Village Retirement (Canterbury).
At least 828 cases and 107 deaths in the region have been linked to long-term care and retirement homes.
Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains in effect at London’s Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
Two inmate cases are active at the jail as of Monday, down one from the day before.
The outbreak, declared Jan. 18, has been linked to at least 62 cases among inmates and 43 among staff.
It’s unclear if any other non-institutional outbreaks or workplace outbreaks are active in the region, as MLHU only reports outbreaks in settings such as child care, education, and health care.
Neither the Thames Valley District School Board nor the London District Catholic School Board have reported new cases.
One active case is associated with Sir Arthur Currie Public School.
No school outbreaks are currently active.
At least 351 cases have been reported involving local elementary and secondary schools during the pandemic.
Two cases remain active linked to the local child-care sector.
One case is active involving London Bridge: Rowntree Park Early Childhood Learning Centre and one is active associated with Simply Kids.
Rowntree Park has had an active outbreak declaration as of April 25. Earlier this month, the facility reported upwards of 14 active cases.
Eighty-six cases have been reported during the pandemic involving local child-care and early-years settings.
No outbreaks are active involving local post-secondary institutions.
Vaccinations and testing
The region’s fourth mass vaccination clinic will open its doors to the public at Earl Nichols Recreation Centre on Tuesday, May 25, with appointment bookings starting this Thursday, the health unit says.
The opening of the clinic comes as the region prepares to expand vaccine eligibility to all people aged 40 and older starting Thursday, and all people 30 and older next week. Eligibility is expected to cover all adults 18 and older as of May 27, two days after Earl Nichols opens.
“The (May 20) for the 30-plus population and (May 27) for the 18-plus population are still pending provincial confirmation, but those are the days that we believe that we will be able to open and that is what we are planning for now,” Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said Monday.
The province says it is also developing a plan to vaccinate children aged 12 to 17 starting in June.
Earlier this week, vaccine eligibility opened to people aged 16 and older with at-risk health conditions, and people who fall under Group 2 of the province’s list of people who can’t work from home, are able to get the shot.
Starting Friday, Mackie says people determined by the province to be high-risk essential health-care providers will be eligible to get their second doses. The workers will have to contact the health unit by phone to arrange the second shot.
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.
Meanwhile, people 40 and older had been eligible to get the AstraZeneca shot as part of the province’s pharmacy program, however Ontario is now halting first doses of the vaccine because of increased instances of a rare blood clotting disorder linked to the shot.
Some local pharmacies are expected to begin offering Moderna doses starting next week. Information will be posted to the province’s website. As of May 12, the closest pharmacies offering Moderna were in Hamilton.
The MLHU is not involved in vaccinations at pharmacies, but tells Global News that the Moderna vaccine will also be offered to select primary care providers as part of a pilot project.
More than 216,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in London and Middlesex as of Monday, with at least 188,000 of them through the region’s three open mass vaccination clinics.
Another 22,000 have been through pharmacies, and 5,5000 through primary care settings.
“That’s a tremendous accomplishment, and it actually represents 51 per cent of the adults in this region,” Mackie said Monday.
“That’s total vaccinations given, so there have been second doses among there, and we know we vaccinated some people from outside of the region. But the fact we’ve delivered enough vaccine for more than half of the adult population is an enormous accomplishment.”
The growing list of vaccine-eligible residents comes as the province is expecting to see more than four million Pfizer doses in May and 3.7 million in June. Ontario is also expecting 388,000 Moderna doses this month.
The London-Middlesex region was expecting just over 12,000 Pfizer doses and 10,000 Moderna doses this week.
“We’ve actually had an additional 1,200 or so (Moderna) that have been released for primary care, in particular, this week. (We’re) working with primary care practitioners to make sure that we can get those 1,200 vaccines into arms by the end of the week. End of day on Saturday is the goal.”
The health unit is anticipating opening its fourth mass vaccination clinic at Earl Nichols Arena. A date is expected to be made public Thursday.
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 reported 2,320 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 32 deaths connected to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 712 new cases in Toronto, 452 in Peel Region and 157 in York Region.
Wednesday’s data is based on 45,681 tests.
The province says there are currently 1,673 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario.
Of those patients, 776 are in intensive care and 559 are on ventilators.
Government figures say the province administered 140,785 COVID-19 vaccine doses Tuesday for a total of nearly 6.5-million doses given out so far.
Ontario says half of the province’s adults have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
It says the rate is slightly higher in hot spot communities – 54 per cent – as it allocates half of its total vaccine shipments to those areas.
Elgin and Oxford
Twenty new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford, officials with Southwestern Public Health said on Wednesday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,592, of which 3,379 have resolved, an increase of 17 from the day before. Seventy-seven deaths have been reported, most recently on Monday.
At least 133 cases are currently active in the region, the health unit says. Of those, at least 34 are in Woodstock, 28 are in Tillsonburg and 26 are in St. Thomas.
The health unit says 15 people from Elgin-Oxford are currently in hospital with COVID-19, including six in intensive care.
The number of variant cases, and cases which have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 599, three more than the day before. At least 91 are active, or about 68 per cent of the region’s active cases.
At least 530 of the cases have either been confirmed to be or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, while two cases have been confirmed to be the P.1 variant.
(If a case is found to have just one specific spike protein mutation, N501Y, during initial screening, the case is presumed to be B.1.1.7 and is not sent for further genomic analysis. The reason being that particular variant has only been linked to that mutation.)
At least 67 cases have screened positive for the E484K spike protein mutation, which has been associated with the P.1 and B.1.351 variants, detected in Brazil and South Africa, respectively. Those cases are undergoing genomic analysis.
The local vaccination campaign continues, with at least 80,000 people now vaccinated with at least one dose.
As of Thursday, all adults aged 40 and older will be eligible to get the shot, with eligibility for people 30 and older expected on Thursday of next week.
“Our vaccine supply is increasing substantially, which I know is welcome news for residents as it means a whole lot more of you can be vaccinated,” said Dr. Joyce Lock, the region’s medical officer of health, on Wednesday.
Those 18 and older living in N5H, a designated hot spot, are eligible, but must present proof of age and address at a vaccination clinic.
Lock says the health unit is planning on rolling out more pop up clinics to the area to vaccinate more people. The N5H area has among the lowest vaccination uptake rates in the province.
“Highest-risk health care workers may soon book their second doses sooner than originally anticipated. The people on this list faced a high risk of COVID-19 infection due to their exposures in work or care settings,” Lock said.
“These workers will get more information from their employers shortly. They can not rebook an appointment online. Only through the telephone booking system.”
People aged 40 and older had been eligible to get the AstraZeneca shot as part of the province’s pharmacy program, however Ontario is now halting first doses of the vaccine because of increased instances of a rare blood clotting disorder linked to the shot.
No school-related cases are active in Elgin-Oxford, according to the two main local school boards.
Two outbreaks are currently active in the region, unchanged from the day before.
One, located at Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital, is linked to 12 patient cases, five staff cases, and one death — one patient case more than the day before.
Variants are a factor in the hospital outbreak, according to health unit officials.
The other outbreak is active at Woodstock’s Caressant Care Nursing Home, linked to four resident and six staff cases, unchanged from the day before.
During the pandemic, the health unit says Woodstock has reported the most cases with at least 792, followed by St. Thomas with 659, Aylmer with 510, and Tillsonburg with 457.
At least 236 have been in Norwich Township, while 184 have been in Bayham, 173 in Ingersoll, 138 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 87 in Central Elgin, 85 in Blandford-Blenheim, 76 in Zorra, 68 in South-West Oxford, 46 in Dutton/Dunwich, 34 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. The figure is down from 3.5 the week prior. Updated numbers are expected this week.
Huron and Perth
One death and 15 new cases have been reported in Huron-Perth, local health officials said Wednesday.
Fourteen of the cases have been reported in South Huron and one in St. Marys.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 1,671, of which 1,540 have resolved, an increase of five from the day before.
At least 54 deaths have been reported. Details on the latest death were not immediately available. It’s the region’s first COVID-19-related death since May 3.
At least 77 cases are currently active, the health unit says. Thirty-two of the active cases are in South Huron while 15 are in Stratford.
At least two people are currently in hospital, down from five the day before.
The number of variant cases, and cases which have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 158, one more than the day before. At least 40 are active.
At least 94 are confirmed or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, according to Public Health Ontario.
(If a case is found to have just one specific spike protein mutation, N501Y, during initial screening, the case is presumed to be B.1.1.7 and does not undergo genomic analysis as that particular variant has only been linked to that mutation.)
Details on the remaining variant/mutation-positive cases are unclear.
The local vaccination campaign rolls on, with people aged 16 and older with at-risk health conditions now eligible.
People who fall under Group 2 of the province’s list of people who can’t work from home are also eligible.
All adults aged 50 and older who don’t fall under a previously identified eligible group can get the shot, and people 40 and older are expected to be come eligible later this week.
Those looking to book an appointment are asked to do so via the local booking system or by calling 1-833-753-2098.
People 40 and older have been able to get vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot at some pharmacies as part of a provincial program, however the Ontario government said Tuesday that it was pausing first doses of the vaccine.
The province says it’s still determining when it will start administering second AstraZeneca shots and is also reviewing the possibility of using a different vaccine for the second dose.
No new school-related cases have been reported. Two are active, both associated with Anne Hathaway Public School. As students are learning remotely, there was no school exposure, school board officials say.
No new outbreaks have been declared. One is still active at Fordwich Village in Howick. The long-term care home outbreak is linked to two staff cases.
Elsewhere, three outbreaks are active at unnamed workplaces, and one is active at an unnamed congregate living setting.
A total of 645 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 401 in North Perth and 149 in Perth East, while 571 have been reported in Huron County, with 144 in South Huron and 107 in Huron East.
Stratford has reported at least 414 in total, while St. Marys has seen 41.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.0 per cent the week of April 25, about the same as the week before. Updated numbers are expected this week.
Sarnia and Lambton
Fourteen new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lambton County, local health officials said on Wednesday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,350, of which 3,216 have resolved, an increase of nine from the day before. At least 56 deaths have been reported, with the most recent on April 24.
At least 78 cases are active in Lambton, according to the health unit. At least 17 COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of Bluewater Health hospital as of Wednesday.
The number of variant cases, and cases which have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 461, unchanged from the day before.
Public Health Ontario data shows at least 322 of the cases have either been confirmed to be or are presumed* to be the B.1.1.7 variant. At least four cases have been confirmed to be the P.1 variant.
(*If a case is found to have just one specific spike protein mutation, N501Y, during initial screening, the case is presumed to be B.1.1.7 and is not sent for further genomic analysis. The reason being that particular variant has only been linked to that mutation.)
Details of the remaining cases are limited.
Health unit officials say more than 55,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered by Lambton Public Health, Bluewater Health, primary care offices, and pharmacies, meaning roughly 47 per cent of the eligible population has seen at least one dose.
Starting Thursday, all people aged 40 and older will be eligible to book a vaccine appointment at a mass vaccination clinic, with people 30 and older expected to follow next week, and people 18-plus the week after.
Those eligible to get the shot are being encouraged to book appointments for the vaccine through the health unit’s website.
“Please be patient as clinics are booking up quickly. If clinics are fully booked, check back often. Additional clinics will be added as vaccine supply is confirmed,” the health unit said in a statement Wednesday.
Officials added that the province was adding high-risk health-care workers, dialysis patients and all First Nations, Inuit and Metis individuals to the list of those able to receive a second dose earlier than the extended four-month period.
“Booking details are in progress and more information will be provided soon.”
People with questions about the booking process can contact the health unit’s newly established call centre at 226-254-8222.
No new school-related cases have been identified as the region’s two main school boards, the Lambton-Kent District School Board and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, have paused the reporting of new cases during the remote learning period.
No new outbreaks have been declared, four remain active.
One is active at Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia, linked to three patient cases and one staff case, one staff case more than the day before.
Elsewhere, an outbreak is active at Afton Park Place, a long-term care home in Sarnia, linked to two resident and five staff cases.
Two outbreaks are also active at unnamed workplaces, both tied to three cases each.
The health unit says the region’s per cent positivity was 1.9 per cent as of the week of April 25. Updated figures are expected this week.
— With files from Jacquelyn LeBel and The Canadian Press