Three new COVID-19 cases have been reported in London and Middlesex, local health officials said Friday.
It marks the second time this month that the region has seen just three cases in a single day. Three were recorded on June 6. Prior to that, a case increase that low hadn’t been seen since mid-November.
The region’s pandemic case total stands at 12,490, of which 12,172 have resolved, an increase of 17 from the day before. At least 223 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported so far, most recently on Tuesday.
At least 95 cases are active in the region, the health unit says. Health unit data shows 242 cases have been recorded since the start of the month.
The rolling seven-day case average for London-Middlesex (June 11-17) stands at 11 while the test positivity rate sits at 1.4 per cent as of the week of June 6.
The number of variant cases in the region stands at 3,417.
The health unit says the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), first identified in the U.K., has accounted for nearly all of them — 3,328.
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.
Four cases have been confirmed to involve the B.1.617 variant, first identified in India. Two are listed as being the Delta sub-lineage (B.1.617.2) and one the Kappa sub-lineage (B.1.617.1).
Meanwhile, two cases have been confirmed to involve the Beta variant (B.1.351), first identified in South Africa.
Variants account for the vast majority of the cases seen in the region in recent weeks. At least 76 per cent of cases last week involved variants, as have at least 69 per cent of cases so far this week.
The region is currently in step one of the province’s three-step reopening plan.
Current pandemic metrics are very close to the province’s target for entering Step 2 of its plan, which would see restrictions on businesses, gatherings, and other activities loosened on July 2.
The Delta variant, however, has posed a threat to those plans in some areas.
Locally, health officials say the main driver of cases in the region continues to be related to close indoor contact.
“If you can take it outdoors, it makes it literally 20 times safer,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, during Monday’s media briefing.
“Essentially being outdoors is as equivalent as getting the vaccine in terms of reducing your likelihood of acquiring COVID. So if you’re doing both of those things, getting vaccinated and getting outdoors, you are really putting yourself in a good situation.”
A total of 11,302 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 360 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 335 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 156 in Thames Centre, 72 in Lucan Biddulph, 58 in Southwest Middlesex, 55 in North Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and six in Newbury, while 128 cases have pending location information.
At least 15 COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre, down four from the day before.
At least nine are in the ICU, unchanged from Thursday.
Fewer than five COVID-19 patients are in acute care, and fewer than five in the ICU, are from out of region. Seven staff at LHSC are currently positive for COVID-19, two more than the day before.
The organization is continuing to deal with an outbreak at University Hospital, declared Sunday, in 8TU – Transplant Unit that has been linked to an undetermined variant.
The outbreak is linked to fewer than five patient and fewer than five staff cases.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, the organization reported no COVID-19 patients in its care at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
There are two non-outbreak cases involving staff at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care.
No new outbreaks have been reported.
Just one is active in the region, located at University Hospital.
The outbreak is located in the hospital’s 8TU Transplant Unit. Fewer than five patient cases and fewer than five staff cases are linked to the outbreak.
Earlier this week, LHSC officials said they were limiting limited visitors to the hospital’s eighth floor as a precaution.
In addition, it was anticipated that the outbreak may impact recovery efforts and surgical volumes.
As of Monday, 11 of 15 operating rooms at University Hospital and 14 of 17 at Victoria Hospital were online, they said.
No new school-related cases have been reported and none are currently active, according to the health unit and local school boards.
No school-related outbreaks are active either, the health unit says.
The Thames Valley District School Board says it will hold virtual graduation ceremonies for students in grades eight and 12.
The province, the board says, has allowed schools to provide “scheduled, outdoor, in-person year-end recognitions for all grades, where possible.”
“For those students who are available during school hours, this is an opportunity to connect with peers and teachers and end this challenging year in a positive way,” the school board said in a statement Friday.
“These short, in-person opportunities will allow for the retrieval of personal items left at the school prior to Spring Break, elementary report card distribution, and the return of Board materials and devices.”
Secondary schools who traditionally plan a fall commencement will issue more details in the near future.
Students have been in remote learning since April.
Meanwhile, the health unit says it’s planning school-based one-day pop-up vaccine clinics that will be held in the city and county starting next week.
Vaccinations and Testing
The health unit is looking to make it easier for people to cancel vaccination appointments as more people book first doses, and re-book second doses amid an influx of vaccines.
Residents can now message a new email address to cancel multiple appointments booked under the same email or phone number.
Within the body of the email, for each appointment that needs to be cancelled, people are asked to include the first and last name of the person with the appointment that needs to be cancelled; the email address or phone number used to book the appointment in the first place; and the date, time and location of the appointment being cancelled.
Those who are either unable to or wish not to cancel via email can instead call a new number, 519-963-4136, starting Monday, June 21.
Starting next week, local health officials expect the region’s mass vaccination clinics will immunize roughly 6,000 people per day compared to the current 4,000.
The vaccination boost comes as a result of at least two weeks of increased shipments of the Moderna shot. The region is expecting roughly 17,000 next week and the week after of Moderna, in addition to its normal weekly Pfizer allotment of 25,000.
(On Friday, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Moderna was scheduled to deliver another 11 million doses in late June and early July, and that Canada is now slated to have 68 million doses of vaccine delivered by the end of July. The local impact of this remains to be seen.)
The influx of vaccines will help the region increase its numbers when it comes to the administration of first and second doses.
According to the province, people who received the Pfizer or Moderna shots can choose either as their second dose. The province says second doses for AstraZeneca recipients are being given at an eight to 12-week interval.
Currently, people 70 and older are eligible to re-book their second dose appointments for an earlier time, along with people who received their first dose on or before May 9. Certain individuals are also eligible to re-book regardless of their age or date of the first dose.
Details on how to re-book a second dose, and details on how to book a first, can be found on the health unit’s website or by calling 226-289-3560.
A number of local pharmacies are also offering first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna. Some are also offering AstraZeneca as well but for second doses only. Bookings must be made through the pharmacies themselves.
Starting Wednesday, specific Delta variant hot spot regions will begin allowing second dose re-bookings by people who had their first shot on or before May 30.
Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said Thursday that they expect thousands more people to book over the next few days, at which point they’ll look at opening up second-dose re-bookings to more people.
The race to get shots into arms comes as public health officials continue to track the more contagious Delta variant, which is expected to become the dominant strain of COVID-19 over the summer, according to the province.
“We absolutely need people to continue to get their first doses of vaccinations. We want to get that up to at least 90 per cent. We’re at just over 72 per cent as of Friday,” Mackie said.
“And, we all need to look at second-dose options right now. With the Delta variant, we’re seeing more and more need for second doses. It’s very clear that you need two doses to be fully protected.”
Starting Monday, the health unit says it will open one-day, pop-up community clinics at select schools in the city and county to make it easier for youth and their families to get a first dose of vaccine.
At least nine schools are slated to take part in the pop-up clinic initiative so far and more may be added. Each of the one-day clinics will run from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and will be able to vaccinate roughly 350 people.
The health unit says children do not have to attend the school where the clinic is being held in order to get an appointment. Bookings can be made online.
The first clinic will be held on Monday at Sir Arthur Carthy Catholic Elementary School.
Meanwhile, those looking to get a COVID-19 test have several options.
Ontario is reporting 345 new cases of COVID-19 today and one death linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 85 new cases in Waterloo, 50 in Toronto, and 50 in Peel Region.
She says there were also 29 new cases in Hamilton and 22 in York Region.
The Ministry of Health says 378 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus — 352 in intensive care and 221 on a ventilator.
Today’s data is based on more than 26,600 tests completed.
Ontario says that 210,638 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Thursday’s report, for a total of more than 12.1 million doses.
Elgin and Oxford
Three new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford.
The region’s pandemic case total stands at 3,850, of which 3,739 have resolved, two more than the day before.
Eighty-three virus-related deaths have been reported so far, most recently on Tuesday.
At least 28 cases are still active, including 10 in St. Thomas and eight in Woodstock. Two people from Elgin-Oxford are hospitalized with COVID-19, but neither are in the ICU.
The number of variant cases in the region stands at 782, according to data from the health unit.
Of the variant cases, 735 involve the Alpha variant (previously B.1.1.7), while 46 involve either the Beta (B.1.351) or Gamma (P.1) variants, and one the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant.
The health unit says the combined Beta/Gamma tally is because “based on the mutation screening results alone, we cannot differentiate between Beta and Gamma variants, so they have been combined into one category.”
Positive case samples undergo initial screening for spike protein mutations consistent with one or more variants, and then undergo genomic analysis to confirm the exact variant involved. Some variants share the same mutations.
“There is currently no screening tool available for the Delta variant, so we are only able to report confirmed Delta variant cases,” the health unit says.
Earlier second dose re-bookings continue for people 70 and older and people of any eligible age whose first shot was on or before May 9.
Those eligible can re-book their second appointment through the online booking portal or by phone at 1-800-922-0096 ext. 9.
Other certain individuals are also able to book earlier second doses regardless of age or date of first shot. They are asked to call 226-289-3560.
People who received Pfizer of Moderna as their first shot can choose either Pfizer or Moderna for their second, while AstraZeneca recipients can choose from all three, provided they are eligible under the eight-week interval time.
First doses, meanwhile, are also continuing for residents aged 12 and older. Youth are eligible only for the Pfizer shot.
Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site to make a first-dose appointment. The health unit is also still encouraging people to add their names to a same-day vaccination list.
Several pharmacies in the region are also continuing to offer first Pfizer and Moderna shots. Bookings must be made directly with the pharmacies.
There have been no changes when it comes to schools and institutional outbreaks. No school-related cases and no such outbreaks are active.
Per-municipality case counts can be found on the health unit’s dashboard.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.9 per cent as of the week of June 6, virtually unchanged from the week before.
Huron and Perth
One new COVID-19 case has been reported in Huron-Perth.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 1,873, of which 1,798 have resolved, an increase of three from the day before.
Fifty-seven virus-related deaths have been reported, most recently on May 20.
At least 18 cases are currently active. Two people are in hospital with COVID-19, the health unit says.
The number of variant cases and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant stands at 302. Five are active.
At least 156 cases involve the Alpha variant, according to Public Health Ontario, while six involve the Delta variant and five the Gamma variant. The remaining cases are likely still under genomic analysis.
Anyone who received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 9 can re-book their second appointment. Other certain individuals are also able to re-book an earlier second dose.
More information on second dose re-bookings can be found on the health unit website.
Health officials say those aged 18 and older whose first dose was Pfizer can have Moderna or Pfizer as their second.
Those who had AstraZeneca as their first shot can choose it, Moderna or Pfizer as the second dose. For AstraZeneca, the interval between first and second doses is eight weeks.
The health unit says those looking for an mRNA vaccine as their second dose can book an appointment at a vaccination clinic, while for AstraZeneca, appointments should be made through a pharmacy or primary care provider who has that vaccine.
For first doses, people aged 12 and older are eligible, with youth able to get the Pfizer shot. More information can be found on the health unit’s website.
More than 90,396 people have gotten at least one dose, or about 74.4 per cent of Huron-Perth residents, as of June 14.
The health unit says one outbreak remains active in the region, located at Knollcrest Lodge in Perth East involving three staff members.
Case counts by municipality can be found on the health unit dashboard.
The region’s test positivity rate was 1.2 per cent as of the week of June 6, up slightly from 0.9 per cent the week prior.
Sarnia and Lambton
For the second day in a row, one new COVID-19 case has been reported in Lambton County.
The region’s pandemic case total stands at 3,554, of which 3,469 have resolved, the same as the day before. At least 62 virus-related deaths have been reported, most recently on Tuesday.
The health unit says 23 cases are active in the region. Seven COVID-19 patients were listed in the care of Bluewater Health on Friday, unchanged from the day before.
The region’s variant case tally stands at 621, the health unit says, unchanged from Thursday.
Public Health Ontario reports that 411 cases involve the Alpha variant, while 17 cases have been confirmed to be the Gamma variant and four the Delta variant.
The status of the remaining cases is unclear.
All residents in Lambton 60 and older are now eligible to re-book their second dose at an earlier interval, the health unit says. Residents of any eligible age whose first dose was on or before May 21 are also now able to re-book their second dose.
Residents are asked to re-book using the health unit’s registration page. People can also call the vaccine call centre at 226-254-8222, however call volume is expected to be very high.
The health unit says an increased supply of Moderna is allowing it to hold two extra Moderna clinics next week at the Wyoming Fairgrounds on June 21 and Clearwater Arena on June 23 for those 18-plus looking for a first or second dose.
According to the province, people whose first dose was an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) can have either mRNA shot as their second. AstraZeneca recipients can choose from all three, provided they are eligible under the eight-week interval.
First doses are ongoing for all residents aged 12 and older, with youth able to get the Pfizer shot. Eligible residents can book appointments through the health unit website. Some pharmacies are also continuing to offer Pfizer or Moderna shots.
The health unit says more than 102,847 doses of vaccine have been administered to Lambton residents, meaning about 71 per cent of adults and 17 per cent of youth have gotten at least one dose.
There has been no change when it comes to outbreaks. One remains active at Bkejwanong Children’s Centre involving three cases.
The region’s main school boards have paused public reporting during remote learning, so no new data has been available for school-related cases.
The region’s positivity rate was 1.4 per cent the week of May 30, about the same as a week earlier. Updated numbers are expected this week.
— With files from Jacquelyn LeBel and The Canadian PressView link »