Fourteen new COVID-19 Cases have been reported in London-Middlesex and one new death, local health officials said Saturday.
The death is a man in his 80s not associated with a long-term care or retirement home.
Saturday’s numbers are eight lower than the day before.
It’s the ninth day in a row the region has seen fewer than 40 new cases, a stretch not seen since mid-March.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 12,334, of which 11,959 have resolved, an increase of 32 from the day before. At least 220 virus-related deaths have been reported during the pandemic.
At least 174 cases are active in the region, the health unit says.
Eighty-seven cases and two deaths have been reported so far this month. At least 211 cases were reported in the first three days of May, and 365 the first three of April.
The rolling seven-day case average for London-Middlesex (May 28-June 3) is 23, compared to 38 the seven days previous. A month ago (April 27-May 3), the average was 91.
Of the 14 new cases reported, 12 are from London, while one is in Thames Centre and one is pending location.
Cases are spread evenly throughout the age brackets tracked by the health unit.
The number of variant cases in the region stands at 3,121, an increase of three from the day before.
Health unit data shows variants accounted for roughly 80 per cent of all cases reported in the region during the month of May.
The B.1.1.7 variant, or Alpha, first identified in the U.K., accounts for the vast majority of them — 3,044. (Just one of the newly confirmed variant cases reported Saturday involved Alpha).
At least 74 cases have been confirmed to involve the P.1 variant, or Gamma, first identified in Brazil, an increase of two from the previous tally. (At the same time, one case, the region’s first, has been confirmed to involve the P.2 variant — the other lineage identified in Brazil in October.)
Meanwhile, three cases have been confirmed to involve the B.1.617 variant, or Delta, first identified in India. (Of those, one has been identified as being the sub-lineage B.1.617.1, and another the sub-lineage B.1.617.2).
And two cases have been confirmed to involve the B.1.351 variant, or Beta, first identified in South Africa — one more than the previous tally, the health unit says.
At least 363 other cases were found to have a spike protein mutation consistent with one or more coronavirus variants. An undetermined number are currently under investigation.
During Thursday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, stressed that if people don’t follow guidelines, and if more people don’t get vaccinated over the next few months, “we will have more waves and cases of COVID.”
“The one thing that I think is important to remember, is that coronaviruses are seasonal illnesses, and so part of what you’re seeing now is the same thing that we saw last May/June, with cases really dying off, in part, because of the weather,” he said of the recent lower case counts.
The province’s three-step reopening plan, unveiled last week, is set to see its first stage take effect on June 14, with looser restrictions on businesses and outdoor activities.
“We see the Stage 1, 2, 3 reopening over the next few months being totally appropriate and safe, and people can keep to those guidelines. We shouldn’t see another wave at least before the fall,” Mackie said.
A total of 11,156 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 360 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 331 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 155 in Thames Centre, 72 in Lucan Biddulph, 58 in North Middlesex, 54 in Southwest Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and six in Newbury. At least 127 cases have pending location information.
At least 30 COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre on Friday, one more than the day before. Nine are in ICU, unchanged from Thursday.
LHSC says fewer than five COVID-19 patients are in acute care, and fewer than five in the ICU, are from out of region. Fewer than five staff are currently positive with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, at St. Joseph’s Health Care London, no COVID-19 patients were reported in their care at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Two staff cases are active within SJHCL, the same as the day before.
At least 649 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in London-Middlesex during the pandemic, including 111 who have needed intensive care, the health unit says.
The province reported Thursday that it would end several emergency orders that had been aimed at preserving hospital capacity during the height of the third wave.
No new institutional outbreaks have been declared, according to the health unit.
One remains active, declared on May 6 and associated with Kensington Village Retirement’s Canterbury area.
At least 851 cases and 109 deaths have been reported during the pandemic at local long-term care and retirement homes, health unit data shows.
On Thursday, the province updated its rules around long-term care residents to include physical contact and day and overnight trips.
In the city’s south end, an outbreak at the city’s jail remains active. One inmate case was reported active there as of Wednesday.
The outbreak at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, declared on Jan. 18, has been linked to cases involving at least 62 inmates and 43 staff.
No new school-related cases have been reported and none are active.
The Thames Valley District School Board announced Thursday that it will go ahead with virtual graduation ceremonies later this month for Grade 8 and 12 students.
The board, the statement read, is exploring the possibility of holding additional in-person outdoor recognitions.
This comes after the province said Wednesday that students would remain in remote learning for the rest of the school year.
In the local child care sector, two cases are active involving two facilities.
One case each is reported as being active involving Kidorable Child Care Centre – Jim Ashton, and Simply Kids, the health unit says.
Simply Kids has an active outbreak declaration, first implemented May 12.
In post-secondary, no outbreaks are currently active.
Vaccinations and Testing
First doses of vaccine are available to anyone 12 and older, with youth eligible only for the Pfizer-BioNTech 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 four vaccination clinics. Online appointments are encouraged.
A number of local pharmacies are also offering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
More than 282,178 people have gotten at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the London-Middlesex region as of May 29, according to the health unit, or about 60 per cent of all adults over 18.
Earlier second dose rebookings for people 80 and older will begin on Monday, with second dose bookings for people 70 and older beginning June 10.
Bookings will be done primarily through the main vaccination website but also by phone, health officials said.
“Due to high demand for the COVID-19 vaccine and that residents have been able to book vaccination appointments up to four weeks in advance, the number of appointments that will be available before Monday, June 21 will be limited,” the health unit said in a release. “However, each morning approximately 3,500 additional appointments are made available.”
“The one thing we ask of those who re-book a second dose appointment is to ensure they cancel any previous second dose appointments made, so we can make that time available to others looking to book a first dose appointment for the vaccine,” said Dr. Chris Mackie in a statement.
Provincial officials said this week that the government is aiming to accelerate the second-dose schedule amid growing concern about the more infectious Delta variant, first detected in India. Ontario has been administering COVID-19 shots four months apart with some exceptions.
In other areas of the province, earlier second dose bookings for people 80-plus has been underway since earlier this week, and as of Friday, people 70 and older, and people who received Pfizer or Moderna on or before April 18, became eligible to book second doses on Friday through pharmacies and primary care settings.
Those people can also book shots starting Monday through the provincial booking system. MLHU uses its own system in collaboration with Southwestern Public Health.
When it comes to AstraZeneca, people who received a first dose of that vaccine now have the choice to book a second dose of the same vaccine or an mRNA like Pfizer or Moderna.
Second-dose bookings are available at pharmacies for people who received an AstraZeneca vaccine 12 weeks ago.
People can book AstraZeneca second doses by contacting the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first shot. Those opting for an mRNA vaccine can schedule through a participating pharmacy offering Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
AstraZeneca recipients can book second shots of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine through the provincial booking system or local health units starting next week, according to the province.
First doses of the vaccine remain paused in Ontario over concerns of its potential link to a rare but serious blood clotting syndrome known as Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT).
Hundreds of pharmacies which had been doling out AstraZeneca have since switched to offering Pfizer and Moderna shots.
Those looking to be tested for COVID-19 can still do so in a variety of ways.
Ontario reported 744 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 535,419.
“Locally, there are 181 new cases in Toronto, 123 in Peel, 61 in Hamilton, 51 in the Region of Waterloo, 48 in York Region and 48 in the Porcupine Health Unit region,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.
For comparison, last Saturday 1,057 cases were reported.
Twenty-four new deaths were also announced on June 5, bringing the provincial death toll to 8,844.
A total of 517,638 coronavirus cases are considered resolved, which is up by 1,242 and is 96.7 per cent of all confirmed cases.
As of Friday evening, 9,834,182 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Ontario, marking an increase of 172,855 over 24 hours. Of those, 67,192 were second doses.
So far, 963,257 people in the province are fully vaccinated.
Elgin and Oxford
Southwestern Public Health does not update cases on the weekend.
Four new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford on Friday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,806, of which 3,682 have resolved, an increase of five from the day before. At least 82 virus-related deaths have been reported during the pandemic, most recently on Wednesday.
The health unit says at least 42 cases are currently active, including 11 in Tillsonburg and nine each in St. Thomas and Woodstock. Two people are currently hospitalized, neither in the ICU.
The number of variant cases, and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 801.
At least 717 have been the B.1.1.7, or Alpha variant, nine have involved the P.1 or Gamma variant, and one has been confirmed to involve the B.1.351 or Beta variant.
At least 74 other cases screened positive for a variant-consistent spike protein mutation. An unspecified number are currently undergoing genomic analysis.
More information is expected Friday in regards to the local plan for rebooking earlier second doses for people aged 80 and older.
The MLHU, which uses the same booking system as SWPH, said Friday that it would begin such rebookings on Monday, with people 70-plus starting on June 10, however officials with SWPH have not confirmed whether they will be following the same plan.
Certain individuals under 80 have been able to book earlier second doses by phone at 226-289-3560.
People aged 12 and older are eligible to get the shot, with youth able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Several pharmacies in the region are also offering Pfizer and Moderna shots. Bookings must be made directly with the pharmacies.
No new school-related cases have been reported and none are active. As well, no new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none are active.
Per-municipality case counts can be found on the health unit’s dashboard.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 2.2 per cent the week of May 23, down from 2.8 the week before.
Huron and Perth
Huron and Perth Public Health does not update cases on the weekend.
Two new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Huron-Perth, with one in Bluewater and one in Goderich on Friday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 1,830, of which 1,733 have resolved, an increase of six from the day before. At least 57 virus-related deaths have been reported, most recently on May 20.
At least 40 cases are currently active, including 12 in Huron East. One person is currently in hospital due to COVID-19.
The number of variant cases, and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stood at 282as of Friday, four more than the day before. Twenty-four are active.
At least 153 cases involve the Alpha variant, according to Public Health Ontario, while three involve the Gamma variant, one more than the day before. The remaining cases are likely still under genomic analysis.
Officials with Huron Perth Public Health say people who received an mRNA vaccine who are 70 and older, or who got their first vaccine dose on or before April 18, will be able to book a second dose appointment at a shortened interval starting on Monday.
“We know that many people are eager to receive their second dose of vaccine. We will not be able to book second dose appointments for these groups until Monday, June 7 when out booking system is updated,” said Dr. Miriam Klassen, the region’s medical officer of health, in a statement.
“Please do not call before then, or leave multiple messages because this slows down the ability of booking staff to reply to people. We also ask those waiting to book an appointment to please be patient with our staff during this busy time.”
Currently, people 80 and older are able to book a shortened-interval second dose in Huron-Perth. Certain individuals younger than 80 are also able to book earlier second doses.
The officials said that groups eligible for a shortened second dose interval may also book their appointment through a participating pharmacy.
Information on how to book first and second doses can be found on the health unit’s website. Eligibility for first doses remains 12 and older. Youth are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
More than 77,147 Huron County residents have gotten at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, or roughly 63.5 per cent of eligible people.
No change has been reported involving school-related cases. Six remain active, all under the Avon-Maitland District School Board. None are due to school exposure.
No institutional outbreaks are active, however five outbreaks are active involving unnamed workplaces.
Case counts by municipality can be found on the health unit dashboard.
The region’s test positivity rate was 1.8 per cent as of the week of May 23, up slightly from 1.7 the week before.
Sarnia and Lambton
Nine new cases have been reported in Sarnia-Lambton on Saturday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,521, of which 3,421 have resolved, an increase of five from the day before. At least 61 virus-related deaths have been reported during the pandemic, most recently on Wednesday.
At least 39 cases are active in Lambton, the health unit says. Bluewater Health reported four COVID-19 patients in their care Saturday, one more than the day before.
The region’s variant case count stood at 565 as of Thursday of last week. An updated tally was still not available Saturday due to ongoing network issues at the health unit.
Public Health Ontario data shows 400 cases involve the Alpha variant, while 14 cases have been confirmed to be the Gamma variant. The remaining cases are under genomic sequencing.
People who are 75 and older, or who got their first dose of vaccine on or before March 31, are now eligible to book a second dose vaccination appointment in Lambton, the health unit says.
Residents who also got a first dose of AstraZeneca within that same time period, or who are 75 and older, may also book a second dose with the same vaccine or with Pfizer or Moderna.
Health officials say people will be contacted via email or phone to schedule a second dose. Those 75 and older and not contacted by the end of Friday are being asked to contact 226-254-8222 or contact the health unit via its Contact Us page.
Other certain individuals have been able to book earlier second doses as well.
First doses are continuing for all people aged 12 and older. Eligible residents can book appointments through the health unit’s website, and people with questions can contact the health unit’s call centre at 226-254-8222.
Some pharmacies are also continuing to offer the Pfizer or Moderna shots. Residents are asked to book spots with the pharmacies themselves.
More than 77,597 vaccine doses have been administered in Lambton as of June 2.
The health unit says no outbreaks are currently active in the region.
No information on school-related cases was available. Both of the region’s main school boards have paused public reporting as students continue to learn remotely.
The region’s positivity rate was 1.3 per cent the week of May 23, down from 1.8 per cent a week earlier.
— With files from Matthew Trevithick, Ryan Rocca, and The Canadian PressView link »