One death and 12 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in London-Middlesex, local health officials said Friday.
The update comes as the province enters the first stage of its economic reopening plan and some pandemic restrictions are loosened, including for outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and non-essential retail.
Friday’s update brings the region’s pandemic case total to 12,412, of which 12,087 have resolved, an increase of 11 from the day before. At least 103 cases are active.
A total of 222 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported during the pandemic. The most recent death involved a man in his 30s, the health unit said. It’s the region’s second COVID-19-related death to involve someone in their 30s.
The London-Middlesex region has seen 166 cases so far this month, with seven days of case increases below 20. In comparison, the first 10 days of April and May saw 1,207 and 776 cases, respectively, with April recording eight days of 100-plus cases.
The rolling seven-day case average for London-Middlesex (June 4 to June 10) is 13, compared to 23 the seven days previous.
The region’s test positivity rate sits at 2.1 per cent as of the week of May 30 based on 5,363 tests, down from 3.3 per cent the week prior based on 6,111 tests.
Of the 12 new cases, all are from London.
One individual is aged 19 or younger, six are in their 30s, two each are in their 40s and 50s, and one is in their 60s.
Seven cases have pending or undetermined exposure source data, while three have no known link and two are listed as being due to close contact with a confirmed case.
The number of variant cases in the region stands at 3,246, an increase of 46 from the day before. Variants have made up at least 71 per cent of cases whose episode date was this week. Through most of May, variants accounted for upwards of 80 per cent of cases each week.
The Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), first identified in the U.K., has accounted for the vast majority of local variant cases — 3,158.
Eighty-two 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 2020.
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).
Recent modelling from the province suggests the Delta variant could become the dominant strain over the summer.
Two cases have been confirmed to involve the Beta variant (B.1.351), first identified in South Africa.
Another 301 cases were found to have a spike protein mutation consistent with one or more coronavirus variants. An undetermined number are currently under investigation.
On Friday, Ontario entered the first of its three-stage reopening plan. It comes as new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have dropped in recent weeks.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people and patio dining of up to four people per table are among the activities now permitted.
Non-essential stores can also reopen, with capacity limits, and outdoor fitness classes are allowed.
More restrictions will loosen after 21 days if pandemic indicators continue to improve and more people get vaccinated.
While projections presented Thursday suggested already sharply lower case counts and positivity rates will continue to fall in the immediate future, concern remained about the more transmissible and possibly more dangerous Delta variant.
“It will likely be the dominant form of the virus this summer,” said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, with the province’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. “It is critical to control the spread of this variant.”
A total of 11,221 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 360 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 333 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 155 in Thames Centre, 72 in Lucan Biddulph, 58 in Southwest Middlesex, 55 in North Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and six in Newbury, while 127 cases have pending location information.
Sixteen COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre on Friday, one more than the day before.
Eight are in the intensive care unit, also one more than Thursday.
Fewer than five patients in acute care, and fewer than five patients in ICU, are from out of region.
No staff at LHSC are currently positive with COVID-19, the organization said.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meanwhile, no COVID-19 patients were reported in their care at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
One case is listed as active involving a resident of Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care. One staff case within SJHCL is also listed as active, however it’s not clear where the staff member works.
A total of 652 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 active, the health unit says.
The most recent outbreak was declared on May 9 at Kensington Village Retirement. It was resolved on June 5.
Health unit data shows that 852 cases and 109 deaths have been reported during the pandemic at local long-term care and retirement homes.
No new school-related cases have been reported and no cases or outbreaks are currently active.
There are also no active cases tied to the local child-care sector, according to the health unit.
Students have been in remote learning since April and will remain so 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.
Vaccinations and testing
Second dose re-bookings are underway for people 70 and older, and people of any age who received their first dose before April 18.
The two groups became eligible to re-book their second dose for an earlier interval on Thursday.
It’s unclear when the health unit expects to lower the eligibility further, such as to those 60 and older.
First doses are continuing at the region’s four mass vaccination clinics as well as through mobile clinics, pharmacies and other locations.
All residents 12 and older can get the vaccine, with youth eligible only for Pfizer. Residents are asked to visit the local vaccine booking website or call 226-289-3560.
A number of local pharmacies are also offering doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but bookings must be made through the pharmacies themselves.
For residents who got AstraZeneca as their first dose, the choice is theirs whether to have AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna for their second after the required 12-week interval.
Those who got the AstraZeneca shot and who would like their second dose to be Pfizer or Moderna can book through the vaccine booking website or by calling 226-289-3560.
“Vaccine appointments can only be booked up to 4 weeks in advance. If it’s not yet time for your second dose within the next 4 weeks, please try back closer to your second dose interval date,” the health unit says.
People who want their second dose to be AstraZeneca are asked to contact the pharmacy or primary care setting where they got their initial shot.
It remains to be seen how the London-Middlesex region may be impacted by the province’s plan to reallocate vaccines and accelerate early second doses in seven Delta variant hot spots.
Right now the region is doling out about 4,000 doses per day, well below the maximum 10,000 that the region is capable of. About 20 per cent of vaccine appointments over the next four weeks are for second doses, health officials say. The health unit is currently looking to bring on more people to work at the vaccination clinics.
“We have millions of doses of Moderna coming in. If all of those get put towards a hot-spot strategy, then I think it really does leave our region at risk of falling further behind and potentially becoming a Delta variant hot spot,” Dr. Chris Mackie, the medical officer of health for London-Middlesex said on Thursday.
“I certainly understand the need for second doses to help prevent the Delta band expanding, and we completely support that, it’s just we are behind in first doses as well as second doses compared to communities that were previously designated hot spots.”
In early to mid-May, the province diverted roughly half of its new doses to more than 100 designated hot spots in the province for a two-week period. Roughly 20,000 doses of vaccine were diverted from London-Middlesex, according to Mayor Ed Holder.
“From my perspective, I look at this and I will take the premier’s confidence that London will not be left behind in this process,” Holder said, adding that Premier Doug Ford was cognizant of the local situation during a recent call between the two of them.
“This was an important discussion I had with him, one that I have fairly regularly, and I would believe that over the next number of weeks that … London will not be disadvantaged as a result of that.”
So far, the local region has seen just one confirmed Delta variant case.
Testing continues at several locations in the region.
Ontario is reporting 574 COVID-19 cases and four deaths from the virus Friday.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there were 109 cases reported in Toronto, 84 in Peel Region, 79 in Waterloo and 51 in the Porcupine Health Unit.
The data is based on 28,949 tests.
The province said 489 people were hospitalized with the virus on Friday, including 440 people in intensive care and 292 on ventilators.
The province is reporting 199,951 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered Thursday, for a total of more than 10.8 million.
The province has promised that if vaccinations continue to increase and cases fall, it will loosen restrictions again in 21 days.
Elgin and Oxford
Four new COVID-19 cases have been reported.
They bring the region’s pandemic case total to 3,825, of which 3,721 have resolved, an increase of three from the day before. Eighty-three virus-related deaths have been reported during the pandemic, most recently on Tuesday.
The health unit says 21 cases are active in the region. At least 15 of them are in Woodstock. There are no patients from Elgin-Oxford hospitalized with COVID-19.
Data from the health unit regarding variant cases was still unavailable on Friday. The data was removed Tuesday after the health unit said it had commenced a review of the data for accuracy following a change in lab processes.
It’s unclear when the data will be re-added to the health unit’s dashboard.
As of Monday, health unit’s total figure stood at 807 — 721 involving the Alpha variant, 10 being the Gamma variant and one confirmed to involve the Beta variant.
Seventy-five other cases screened positive for a variant-consistent spike protein mutation. An unspecified number were currently undergoing genomic analysis.
Second dose re-bookings continue for all residents 70 and older and residents who got their first dose before April 18 can re-book their second dose at an earlier interval.
Those eligible to reschedule their second dose for an earlier appointment can do so 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.
For first doses, people aged 12 and older are eligible, with youth able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
Several pharmacies in the region are also continuing to offer Pfizer and Moderna shots. Bookings must be made directly with the pharmacies.
No changes have been reported involving schools and outbreaks.
No school-related cases are active and no institutional outbreaks are active.
Per-municipality case counts can be found on the health unit’s dashboard.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.8 per cent as of the week of May 30, down from 2.2 per cent the week before.
Huron and Perth
Six new COVID-19 cases have been reported.
They bring the region’s pandemic case total to 1,851, of which 1,771 have resolved, an increase of four from the day before. Fifty-seven virus-related deaths have been reported so far, most recently on May 20.
At least 23 cases are currently active in the region, with at least 10 of them in Huron East. One person is currently hospitalized, unchanged from the day before.
The number of variant cases and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant stands at 293, an increase of three. Eight are active, two more than the day before.
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.
Earlier second dose bookings are ongoing for people who received an mRNA vaccine and who are aged 70-plus, or who got their first dose on or before April 18.
The health unit says certain people under 70 are also able to book an earlier second dose appointment.
The health unit says those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca can choose to have Pfizer or Moderna through a local clinic or pharmacy, or a second dose of AstraZeneca at a pharmacy that offers it. These doses will be given at a 12-week interval, officials say.
Eligibility for first doses remains 12 and older. Youth are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. More information can be found on the health unit’s website.
As of June 10, the health unit says more than 85,190 people have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, or about 70 per cent of Huron-Perth residents. More than 11,9872, or 9.8 per cent, have had two doses.
No new school-outbreak cases have been reported. Seven are still active, none due to school exposure. Details can be found on the websites of the Avon-Maitland District School Board and Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.
One institutional outbreak remains active Knollcrest Lodge in Perth East, tied to three staff cases, one more than Wednesday. Elsewhere, one outbreak is active at an unnamed workplace in the region, down two from the day before.
Case counts by municipality can be found on the health unit dashboard.
The region’s test positivity rate was 0.9 per cent as of the week of May 30, down from 1.8 per cent the week before.
Sarnia and Lambton
One new COVID-19 case has been reported in Lambton County.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,537, of which 3,447 have resolved, two more than the day before. Sixty-one virus-related deaths have been reported, most recently on Wednesday.
The health unit says 29 cases are active in Lambton. Six people are in hospital with COVID-19, according to Bluewater Health.
No updates were available Friday on the region’s variant case tally due to network issues at the health unit that have been ongoing for roughly two weeks.
It’s unclear what is causing the network issues and when officials expect to resolve them.
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 believed to be under genomic sequencing.
Re-bookings for earlier second doses is ongoing in the region for people 70 and older and people who received their first dose of vaccine — Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca — on or before April 18.
Individuals will be contacted via email or phone to schedule an appointment. Those not contacted are asked to call the health unit at 226-254-8222 or use the Contact Us page. Other certain individuals are also able to book earlier second doses.
Residents who got a first dose of AstraZeneca may book a second dose with the same vaccine or with Pfizer or Moderna, the health unit says. The province says people who got the AstraZeneca shot must wait 12 weeks after their initial dose.
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 Pfizer or Moderna shots.
An update on the local immunization campaign is expected next week.
The health unit says no outbreaks are currently active in the region.
On school-related cases, the region’s main school boards have paused public reporting during remote learning, so no new data has been available.
The region’s positivity rate was 1.4 per cent the week of May 30, about the same as a week earlier.
— With files from The Canadian PressView link »