Health officials in London-Middlesex reported three new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the lowest daily case count the region has since since mid-November, prior to the second wave.
The news comes the same day the province announced it would begin its economic reopening on Friday, a few days a head of schedule.
It also comes as local health officials unveiled that people 70-plus, and people who received their first vaccine dose prior to April 18, can rebook an earlier second dose starting Thursday.
Monday’s update brings the region’s pandemic case total to 12,353, of which 12,024 have resolved, an increase of 27 from the day before. At least 221 virus-related deaths have been reported, most recently on Saturday.
Monday marks the 11th day in a row the region has seen fewer than 40 cases in a single day, and is the fifth day in a row with fewer than 30 cases.
At least 108 cases are currently active in the region, the health unit says. At least 105 cases have been reported since the start of the month, compared to 505 in the first six days of May.
The rolling seven-day case average for London-Middlesex (May 31-June 6) is 17, compared to 30 the seven days previous. A month ago (April 30-May 6), the average was 86.
All three of the new cases Monday are from London, health unit data shows.
One involves someone 19 or younger, one involves a person in their 20s, and one 80 or older.
Two cases are listed as being due to close contact with a confirmed case, while one has no known link.
The number of variant cases in the region stands at 3,155. The Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) accounts for the vast majority of them — 3,068.
At least 81 cases have been confirmed to involve the Gamma variant (P.1), first identified in Brazil. (One case has also been confirmed to involve the Zeta, or P.2, variant — the other lineage identified in Brazil in October.)
Meanwhile, three cases have been confirmed to involve the B.1.617 variant, first identified in India. One is listed as being the Delta sub-lineage (B.1.617.2) and one the Kappa sub-lineage (B.1.617.1).
And two cases have been confirmed to involve the Beta variant (B.1.351), first identified in South Africa.
At least 352 other cases were found to have a spike protein mutation consistent with one or more coronavirus variants. An undetermined number are currently under investigation.
Health unit data shows variants accounted for roughly 80 per cent of all cases reported in the region during the month of May.
Ontario will start its economic reopening on Friday, loosening restrictions on outdoor activities and businesses.
The province says health indicators have improved enough to begin lifting some pandemic restrictions a few days ahead of schedule.
Limited outdoor dining, outdoor fitness classes, outdoor religious services and camping can resume under the first step of the plan.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are also permitted and more retail businesses can open for in-person sales with capacity restrictions.
The province had originally planned to move to the first step of its reopening plan next week.
A total of 11,175 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 22 COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre, a decrease of eight from Friday’s update.
At least nine are in ICU, unchanged from the previous report.
LHSC says fewer than five patients in acute care, and fewer than five patients in ICU, are from out of region.
Fewer than five staff are currently positive with COVID-19.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meanwhile, no COVID-19 patients were reported in their care at St. Joseph’s Hospital. No staff cases are active within SJHCL.
At least 651 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in London-Middlesex during the pandemic, including 111 who have needed intensive care, the health unit says.
No new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none are currently active.
The most recent resolved outbreak was at Kensington Village Retirement in its Canterbury area. The outbreak, declared May 6, was resolved on Saturday.
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.
In the city’s south end, an outbreak at the city’s jail remains active. One inmate case was reported active there as of Thursday, the most recent data available.
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 currently active.
No outbreaks are currently active that are linked to schools in the London-Middlesex region.
The health unit says at least 354 cases have been linked to local schools during the pandemic.
With students set to remain in remote learning until the end of the school year, the Thames Valley District School Board says it will go ahead with virtual graduation ceremonies this month for Grade 9 and 12 students.
The board said last week that it is also exploring the possibility of holding additional in-person outdoor recognitions.
“With just weeks until the end of the school year, we are still waiting for details from the province about how in-person activities could take place while respecting existing public health guidelines,” said Mark Disher, director of education at the TVDSB.
School board trustees will reach out to students to gather ideas for possible in-person activities.
In the local child care sector, meanwhile, no active cases have been reported. No outbreaks are active either.
Vaccinations and Testing
Starting Monday, people 80 and older, and people turning 80 this year, can rebook an earlier second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
People 70-plus are expected to be able to do the same starting on Thursday.
In addition, the health unit says those who received their first vaccine before April 18 will also be able to rebook an earlier second dose as of Thursday.
The date-based eligibility applies to people of any age, regardless of where they received their first dose, the health unit says.
The health unit says it expects the number of appointments available on or before June 21 will be limited due to the fact residents have been able to book appointments up to four weeks out.
“The Health Unit is also reminding the community that anyone who used the same email address or cell phone number to book a first dose appointment for more than one person will need to call the Appointment Booking Phone Line at 226-289-3560 to re-book a new second dose appointment,” health officials said.
“Second dose appointments cannot be re-booked online when the same contact information was used to book multiple appointments.”
The province said last week that it was 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.
Other areas of the province are currently booking people 70-plus. Local health officials have cited vaccine supply as the reason for the minor delay here.
Meanwhile, 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.
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.
The health unit says those who got AstraZeneca in another setting or region, and needs to book a second dose in the next four weeks, can do so through the booking portal.
That includes people who received AstraZeneca first and would like an mRNA as their second dose, and whose who got their first dose outside of London-Middlesex or Ontario.
Those looking for a second dose of AstraZeneca are being asked to contact the pharmacy or primary care practice where they received their first shot.
First doses of the AstraZeneca 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 is reporting 525 new cases of COVID-19 today and 15 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 114 new cases in Toronto, 95 in Peel Region, and 51 in Waterloo.
She says there are also 40 new cases in Durham Region and 34 in York Region.
The Ministry of Health says 547 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 but notes that 10 per cent of hospitals did not submit data over the weekend.
Ontario reports 497 people are in intensive care with the novel coronavirus and 339 on a ventilator.
The province says 116,829 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Sunday’s report for a total of more than 10.1 million doses.
Elgin and Oxford
Eight new COVID-19 cases were reported in Elgin-Oxford over the weekend, Southwestern Public Health said in their first update since Friday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,814, of which 3,702 have resolved, an increase of 20 from the previous update. At least 82-virus related deaths have been reported, most recently on Wednesday.
At least 30 cases are active in the region, including 10 in Woodstock, and nine in St. Thomas. Two people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, neither in the ICU.
The number of variant cases, and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 807.
At least 721 have been the B.1.1.7, or Alpha variant, 10 have involved the P.1 or Gamma variant, and one has been confirmed to involve the B.1.351 or Beta variant.
At least 75 other cases screened positive for a variant-consistent spike protein mutation. An unspecified number are currently undergoing genomic analysis.
As of Monday, people 80 and older, or born in 1941 or earlier, are eligible to rebook their second dose for an earlier date.
Earlier second dose appointments are expected to open up to people 70 and older on June 14, the health unit says, noting the date may be earlier.
People 80 and older can reschedule their second appointment via the online booking portal, or by phone at 1-800-922-0096 ext. 9.
Other certain individuals under 80 are also able to book earlier second doses by phone at 226-289-3560.
People aged 12 and older are currently eligible to get first doses of the vaccine, with youth able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
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. Updated numbers are expected this week.
Huron and Perth
Eight new COVID-19 cases were reported over the weekend, Huron Perth Public Health said in their first update since Friday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 1,838, of which 1,750 have resolved, an increase of 17 from the previous update. At least 57 virus-related deaths have been reported so far, most recently on May 20.
The health unit says 31 cases are currently active in the region, including 10 in Huron East. One person is currently hospitalized.
The number of variant cases, and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stood at 287 as of Friday. Eighteen are active.
At least 153 cases involve the Alpha variant, according to Public Health Ontario, while four involve the Gamma variant. 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, are able to book a second dose appointment at a shortened interval starting today.
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 79,852 Huron County residents have gotten at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, or roughly 65.7 per cent of eligible people.
One new outbreak has been declared involving a long-term care home. The outbreak was declared Sunday and involves Knollcrest Lodge in Perth East.
The health unit says two staff at the facility are currently positive with COVID-19.
Elsewhere, four outbreaks are also active at unnamed workplaces in the region.
Meanwhile, five school-related cases are currently active, one fewer than Friday. The active cases are all under the Avon-Maitland District School Board. None are due to school exposure.
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. Updated numbers are expected this week.
Sarnia and Lambton
Sixteen new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lambton County.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,528, of which 3,430 have recovered, an increase of 14 from the day before. At least 61 virus-related deaths have been reported, most recently on Wednesday.
The health unit says 37 cases are active in the region. Bluewater Health reports five people are in their care with COVID-19, up one from the day before.
The region’s variant case count stood at 565 as of May 27. An updated tally was still not available Monday due to ongoing network issues at the health unit.
Public Health Ontario data shows 405 cases involve the Alpha variant, while 17 cases have been confirmed to be the Gamma variant. The remaining cases are believe to be under genomic sequencing.
People who are 70 and older, or who received their first dose of vaccine on or before April 18, are now eligible to book a second dose appointment, Lambton health officials say.
Residents who also got a first dose of AstraZeneca within that same time period, or who are 70 and older, may also book a second dose with the same vaccine or with Pfizer or Moderna.
The health unit says individuals will be contacted via email or by phone to schedule an appointment. Those who are not contacted by the end of the day are asked to contact the health unit at 226-254-8222 or through 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. Updated numbers are expected later this week.
— With files from The Canadian PressView link »