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COVID-19: 2 deaths, 65 cases in London-Middlesex; 24 cases in Elgin-Oxford

Click to play video: 'Ford government adjusts COVID-19 communications strategy' Ford government adjusts COVID-19 communications strategy
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been noticeably absent from the spotlight in recent days, including Tuesday’s massive transit announcement. He was at Queen’s Park on Wednesday for question period. Alan Carter speaks with Sunira Chaudhri and Amanda Galbraith – May 12, 2021

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Two deaths and 65 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in London-Middlesex, local health unit officials said Friday.

The update brings the region’s pandemic case total to 11,492, of which 10,489 have resolved, an increase of 79 from the day before.

A total of 212 deaths have been reported during the pandemic. The most recent deaths involved a man in his 50s and a woman in her 80s, the health unit said. Neither was linked to a seniors’ facility.

Friday marks the region’s fifth day in a row of case increases under 100, the longest such stretch since late March.

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As of Friday, at least 791 COVID-19 cases are active. London-Middlesex has recorded 1,003 cases since the start of the month, along with 12 deaths.

The region’s rolling seven-day case average stands at 71 (May 7-13), down from 87 the seven days prior. At this time last month, the average was 132.

The test positivity rate for London-Middlesex was 6.3 per cent as of the week of May 2, down from 6.7 the week before.

Read more: COVID-19: Outbreak declared after 14 cases linked to London funeral; dozens asked to quarantine

Of the 65 cases reported Friday, 64 are listed as being from London. One case is pending location data.

Those testing positive skew younger, with 66 per cent of cases involving people under 40.

Nine individuals are 19 or younger, 17 each are in their 20s and 30s, nine are in their 40s, seven are in their 50s, four are in their 60s, one is in their 70s and one is 80 or older.

Twenty-seven cases are listed as being due to close contact, while 18 have no known link. Twenty cases have their source listed as pending or have undetermined exposure source data.

Read more: Indoor COVID-19 restrictions could ease by fall if 75% are fully vaccinated, PHAC says

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The number of confirmed/presumed* variant cases recorded in London-Middlesex has risen by 92 to 2,415.

All but one of the newly identified variant cases involves the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K. One involves the variant P.1, first detected in Brazil.

The vast majority of local variant cases, 2,415, have involved B.1.1.7. Twenty-one have involved P.1, while one, confirmed last week, involved the variant B.1.617, first detected in India.

Variants have been making up most of the cases seen in the region over the last month, with upwards of three-quarters of cases seen during the week of May 2 variant-related, health unit data shows.

*A note on the process of confirming and presuming variant cases:

  • 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 total of 297 other cases have been found to have a spike protein mutation consistent with one or more coronavirus variants.

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Of those, 166 were found to have the E484K mutation, consistent with the P.1 and B.1.351 variants. They remain under genomic testing to determine the specific variant involved.

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.

Read more: Delaying 2nd Pfizer vaccine dose may protect better against COVID-19, study finds

A total of 10,340 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 354 have been in Middlesex Centre.

Elsewhere, 324 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 147 in Thames Centre, 71 in Lucan Biddulph, 56 in North Middlesex, 54 in Southwest Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and three in Newbury, and 128 cases have pending location information.

Hospitalizations

The number of COVID-19 patients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre stands at 58 as of Thursday afternoon, a decrease of five from the day before.

Of those, 28 are in intensive care, also down five. Fewer than five staff cases are active, LHSC says.

The update continues what has been a steady decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients being treated by LHSC over the last week.

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A record 100 patients were reported on Friday of last week, which fell to 76 on Monday, 71 on Tuesday, 63 on Wednesday, and now 58.

Read more: COVID-19 — Air Canada extends flight ban from India to June 22

LHSC has been among several local hospitals that have been receiving patients transferred out of hard-hit Toronto-area hospitals over the last several weeks.

The capacity crunch forced it to open 25 additional critical care beds and to curb non-urgent surgeries as part of a provincial directive. Surgical capacity remains halved, officials say, an amount that isn’t anticipated to go lower.

St. Joseph’s Health Care London says no COVID-19 patients are in its care at any of its facilities, however four cases are active among the organization’s staff.

In Strathroy, two COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital as of May 11, according to provincial data.

At least 611 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 101 in intensive care.

Outbreaks

No new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none have resolved.

Four are active as of Friday, all at seniors’ facilities.

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One each is active at Dearness Home (5 East, 5 West), Kensington Village (first-floor long-term care) Kensington Village Retirement (Canterbury) and McGarrell Place (Windermere Way).

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Toronto cancels all major summer events as Ontario extends stay-at-home order – May 14, 2021

Meanwhile, a non-institutional outbreak has been declared after 14 cases were linked to a recent funeral, the health unit said Friday.

Dozens of people are now being asked to quarantine and to get tested for COVID-19.

Between 180 and 300 people were determined to have attended the visitation, funeral service and burial on May 5 and 6, and investigators have found evidence to suggest transmission likely occurred at those locations, as well as at private home gatherings, the health unit said Friday.

The visitation was held on May 5 at Needham Funeral Service, with the funeral the following day at Holy Rosary Santa Cruz Catholic Church, the health unit says. The burial was held later in the day on May 6 at Woodland Cemetary.

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Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains active at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, nearly four months after it was declared.

One inmate case was active at the jail Wednesday as a result of the outbreak, provincial data shows. The data is the most recent available.

At least 62 inmate cases and 43 staff cases have been reported at the jail as a result of the outbreak, declared on Jan. 18.

It’s not clear if there are any other non-institutional outbreaks active in the London-Middlesex region.

The health unit only reports outbreaks in child-care, education and health-care settings on its website.

Schools

No new school-related cases have been reported and none are active, the health unit says.

A total of 351 cases have been reported involving local elementary and secondary schools during the pandemic.

Students are learning remotely, but it’s not clear whether they may return to the classrooms before their year ends next month.

Mark Fisher, director of education for the Thames Valley District School Board, has stated there is a “strong likelihood” students won’t return to class this school year.

Read more: ‘He’s fighting for his life’ — Alberta father in ICU amid CNRL Horizon COVID-19 outbreak

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Five cases linked to the local child-care sector are active, all associated with Simply Kids in London.

The facility has had an active outbreak declaration since May 12.

A previous outbreak at London Bridge: Rowntree Park Early Childhood Learning Centre has been declared over as of Thursday, the health unit says.

At least 90 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

As of Friday, certain high-risk health-care workers, such as hospital and acute care staff in front-line roles with COVID-19 patients and/or with high risk of exposure, are now eligible to book their second shots.

Other eligible workers include patient-facing health-care staff involved in the COVID-19 response, such as specimen collectors, vaccine clinic and mobile vaccination teams, those in COVID-19 isolation centres and those in COVID-19 lab services.

Those eligible also include long-term care and retirement home health-care workers, home and community care health-care workers and medical first responders, such as ORNGE, paramedics, and police and firefighters who provide medical first response as part of their regular duties.

More information can be found on the health unit website.

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Eligible high-risk health-care workers must book their second appointment by phone. Officials with LHSC and the health unit reported extremely high call volume on Friday.

It comes a day after eligibility for first doses was expanded to all people 40 and older and those turning 40 this year.

People 30 and older will be eligible as of May 20, and all adults 18 and older eligible on May 27, pending provincial confirmation.

The province is hoping to fully inoculate all willing adults against COVID-19 by the end of the summer, a goal that some medical experts have said will require far more health-care workers hired, 24-hour vaccination sites and clear public messaging to meet.

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Thursday also marked the first day local residents could book a vaccine appointment at the region’s newest clinic, set to open later this month.

The clinic at the Earl Nichols Recreation Centre will open on May 25.

It joins the three others at the Western Fair Agriplex, North London Optimist Community Centre and Caradoc Community Centre. Health officials say they are planning for a possible fifth clinic, but details remain very limited.

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 four vaccination clinics. Online appointments are encouraged.

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Behind-the-scenes with the team preparing COVID-19 vaccine vials in Toronto – May 14, 2021

The expanding eligibility pool comes as the province is anticipating millions of Pfizer doses this month and next.

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Roughly 23,000 to 25,000 Pfizer doses are expected to arrive in London-Middlesex next week, health officials say. The vaccine boost is due to the fact that this is the last week the province is allocating 50 per cent of its doses to designated hot spots.

With people 18 and older set to be eligible May 27, the province said Thursday that it would start administering the Pfizer vaccine to children aged 12 to 17 starting the week of May 31.

Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, told reporters during a media briefing Thursday that the health unit wanted to get first doses to that age group by the end of June, if supply allows.

He noted that while the health unit planned to partner with school boards, it was not anticipating a school-by-school campaign, noting the time it would take.

“There may be situations where we do set up a clinic in a school, but at this stage in the campaign, the mass clinics are still by far the most efficient and effective way to get the vaccine into arms,” he said.

Asked whether the health unit anticipated vaccines being available to children under 12 by the time school returns in September, Mackie said he certainly hoped so, but noted few details had come down from the province.

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Read more: COVID-19 vaccine tracker — How many Canadians are vaccinated?

For people 40 and older who got their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine through the AstraZeneca pharmacy pilot, health officials stress that those people did the right thing.

Ontario, along with most provinces, has decided to stop giving AstraZeneca as a first dose because of increased instances of a rare blood clotting disorder linked to the shot.

The provinces are still mulling whether to give it as a second dose or offer people their second dose using either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

“You protected yourself at a time when the virus was circulating intensely in our community, and it still is. And that protection will help you, it will help your family and will help our community,” Mackie said Thursday.

Some local pharmacies are expected to begin offering Moderna doses next week. Information will be posted to the province’s website.

The MLHU previously told Global News that the Moderna vaccine will also be offered to select primary care providers as part of a pilot project. Details, however, remain limited.

Those looking for a COVID-19 test can still visit the region’s two main assessment centres.

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The assessment centres, located at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.

Ontario

Ontario is reporting 2,362 new COVID-19 cases Friday.

The province says 26 more people have died from the virus.

The data is based on 44,040 tests.

There were 1,582 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals as of Friday morning.

Of those, 777 people were in intensive care and 560 were on ventilators.

Ontario administered 141,765 COVID-19 vaccine doses on Thursday for a total of more than 6.7 million doses given out so far.

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Read more: Ontario reports more than 2,300 new COVID-19 cases, 26 deaths

The province aims to have all willing adults fully immunized against the virus by Sept. 22 if supply allows.

Experts say Ontario will need to leverage clarity and collaboration to reach that goal.

University of Toronto epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite says the sooner the population can be fully vaccinated, the better.

She says the government should clarify its plan for second doses, given the confusing, “piecemeal” vaccination campaign thus far.

The president of the Ontario Medical Association says she is fully on board with the plan to get Ontarians fully vaccinated by September.

Dr. Samantha Hill says the province should use all available vaccine facilities to reach its goal, and family doctors want more involvement.

She says doctors have an important role to play in addressing concerns their patients might have about the vaccines.

Premier Doug Ford announced his goal of a “two-dose summer” on Thursday, if supply allows.

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Elgin and Oxford

Twenty-four new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported on Friday.

They bring the region’s pandemic case total to 3,632, of which 3,416 have resolved, an increase of 18 from the day before. Seventy-eight deaths have been reported, most recently on Thursday.

At least 138 cases are active in the region, the health unit says, including 40 in Woodstock, 25 in St. Thomas and 23 in Tillsonburg.

At least 12 people from the Elgin-Oxford region are currently in the hospital with COVID-19, including five in intensive care.

Read more: COVID-19 — Church of God in Aylmer, Ont., to be locked, pastor and church fined

The number of variant cases, and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 640, 21 more than the day before. At least 98 are active.

The health unit says at least 567 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.

Seventy-one 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.

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As of Friday, certain high-risk health-care workers are now eligible to book their second shots.

The group includes hospital and acute care staff in front-line roles with COVID-19 patients and/or with a high risk of exposure, patient-facing health-care workers involved in the pandemic response, medical first responders, and long-term care and retirement home workers.

A list of eligible workers can be found on the MLHU website. Bookings for second doses must be made by phone at 226-289-3560. Officials reported extremely high call volume on Friday.

It comes a day after all adults 40 and older became eligible and days after people 16 and older with at-risk health conditions, and those in Group 2 of people who can’t work from home, became eligible.

Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site and are being encouraged to add their name to a same-day vaccination list.

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In the N5H postal code, all adults 18 and older are eligible as the area is still a designated COVID-19 hot spot.

Health officials say they’re planning on rolling out more pop-up clinics to the area to increase immunization rates. The N5H area has among the lowest vaccination rate in the province.

More than 80,000 people in SWPH have been vaccinated with at least one dose.

Read more: Golf community livid about Ontario extending ban on sport

No new school-related cases have been reported and none are active.

No new outbreaks have been declared, however two remain active.

One is located at Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital and has been linked with 14 patient and five staff cases, along with one death. Variants are a factor in the outbreak, according to health unit officials.

The other outbreak at Caressant Care Nursing Home in Woodstock is associated with four resident cases, six staff cases and one death, reported on Thursday.

Woodstock has reported the most cases overall with at least 805, followed by St. Thomas with 666, Aylmer with 511 and Tillsonburg with 461.

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At least 236 have been in Norwich Township, while 184 have been in Bayham, 178 in Ingersoll, 140 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 91 in Central Elgin, 88 in Blandford-Blenheim, 76 in Zorra, 68 in South-West Oxford, 46 in Dutton/Dunwich, 35 in Southwold, 28 in West Elgin and 18 in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 3.0 per cent the week of May 2, down from 3.2 per cent the previous week.

Huron and Perth

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

Five cases were reported in Stratford, two in Perth East and one in Central Huron.

They bring the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,697, an increase of just six from the day before. Two previously confirmed cases were reassigned to a different health unit.

At least 1,559 cases have resolved, 10 more than the day before, and 55 deaths have been reported, most recently on Thursday.

As of Friday, at least 83 cases are active in the region, including 26 each in South Huron and Stratford.

Two people are in hospital with COVID-19.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 3.1 per cent the week of May 2, a notable increase from the 1.0 per cent seen a week earlier, data released this week shows. Both weeks saw around 2,500 tests completed.

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Read more: Britain adapts vaccine rollout as B.1.617.2 variant threatens full reopening plan

The number of variant cases, and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 197, 29 more than the day before. At least 64 of them are active.

A total of 120 are confirmed or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, according to Public Health Ontario.

Details on the remaining variant/mutation-positive cases are limited, but it is likely the cases screened positive for the E484K mutation, which is consistent with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, and are under genomic analysis.

Read more: U.S. officials hope new mask advice drives vaccine uptake, but WHO urges caution

As of Friday, certain high-risk health-care workers can schedule their second doses, as can essential caregivers of long-term care and retirement homes. More information can be found on the health unit’s website.

Next week, meanwhile, people 30 and older will be eligible to get the vaccine, and all adults 18 and older eligible the week after that.

People 40 and older, and those turning 40 this year, became vaccine-eligible on Thursday, days after eligibility expanded to people 16-plus with at-risk health conditions and those listed under Group 2 of people who can’t work from home.

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

Huron-Perth health officials say roughly 55,000 people have been vaccinated in the region, with 46 per cent of residents having received a first dose.

Read more: WHO asks rich countries to donate COVID-19 jabs instead of vaccinating kids

No new school-related cases have been reported.

Five were reported on Thursday, bringing the number of active school-related cases in the region to seven.

Two each are active at Anne Hathaway Public School, Hamlet Public School and St. Ambrose Catholic Elementary School, while one case is associated with F.E. Madill Secondary School.

As students are learning remotely, there was no school exposure.

Meanwhile, no long-term home or retirement home outbreaks are active in the region.

Three are active at unnamed workplaces, one in the community and one at a congregate living setting. No further information has been provided.

A total of 654 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 402 in North Perth and 155 in Perth East, while 573 have been reported in Huron County, with 144 in South Huron and 107 in Huron East.

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Stratford has reported at least 427 in total, while St. Marys has seen 43.

Sarnia and Lambton

Eight new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Lambton County, local health officials reported Friday.

They bring the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,377, of which 3,232 have resolved, an increase of nine from the day before. At least 56 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 24.

Officials say 89 cases are active in the region. The locations of the active cases are not made public by the health unit.

Bluewater Health hospital reported 19 COVID-19 patients in their care as of Friday, the highest number the hospital has seen so far during the third wave of the pandemic.

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A total of 492 cases have been confirmed/presumed to be a variant case, or have screened positive for a spike protein mutation consistent with a variant — nine more than the day before.

Public Health Ontario data shows 345 of the cases have either been confirmed to be or are presumed* to be the B.1.1.7 variant.

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Four cases have been confirmed to be the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil.

Details of the remaining cases are limited.

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COVID-19 lessons for flu season – May 14, 2021

As of Friday, certain high-risk health-care workers are now eligible to book their second shots.

The group includes hospital and acute care staff in front-line roles with COVID-19 patients and/or with a high risk of exposure, patient-facing health-care workers involved in the pandemic response, medical first responders, and long-term care and retirement home workers.

People with questions about the booking process can contact the health unit’s newly established call centre at 226-254-8222.

Currently, all adults 40 and older are eligible to get the vaccine, along with previously identified groups.

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On Tuesday, eligibility opened to include people 16 and older with at-risk health conditions and those listed under Group 2 of people who can’t work from home.

Those eligible to get the shot are being encouraged to book appointments for the vaccine through the health unit’s website.

Read more: India surpasses 24 million COVID-19 cases as mutant variant spreads across globe

The region’s two main school boards have paused the reporting of new cases during the remote learning period, so no information is available relating to school-linked cases.

No new outbreaks have been declared in Lambton. Four remain active.

One is active at Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia, linked to four patient cases and three staff cases.

Elsewhere, an outbreak is active at Afton Park Place, a long-term care home in Sarnia, linked to two resident and seven 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 2.0 per cent the week of May 2, about the same as the 1.9 per cent seen a week earlier.

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— With files from The Canadian Press

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