The Middlesex-London Health Unit’s (MLHU) acting medical officer of health says COVID-19 case counts in the region are rapidly rising as Omicron becomes the dominant strain, with 75 new cases reported on Monday.
“The Omicron variant we are seeing exponential growth in our region and across the province. I now consider the Omicron variant to be the dominant strain in our region and it is rapidly becoming the dominant strain across the province,” Dr. Alex Summers said during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing.
Summers said early reports indicate the Omicron variant is two to three times more transmissible than Delta, and that while vaccines may less effective against it, they are still the best protection against hospitalizations and severe symptoms.
Over the weekend the health unit reported 58 cases on Sunday and 43 cases on Saturday.
There are 445 active cases (an increase of 75), 14,718 recoveries (an increase of 70) and 255 deaths (unchanged).
The latest death was reported Friday and involves a woman in her 80s not associated with a long-term care or retirement home. She was fully vaccinated.
Starting Monday, Summers said all cases are assumed to be Omicron in how they respond, prompting them to issues additional restriction for close contacts.
“All close contacts, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to quarantine for 10 days after last exposure to an individual with COVID-19 and they will also be asked to get tested on or after the seventh day in order to exit quarantine,” Summers said.
As of Thursday, the local Omicron cluster involved at least 50 people and 18 households. It was tied to seven schools, two child-care centres and a church.
Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers said Thursday that the health unit is also investigating possible Omicron cases outside of the cluster, including at least one person who screened positive but has no association with travel.
The rate of active cases continues to climb dramatically among those in the under-12 age group.
For children 11 and under, there were 115 cases or 178.5 per 100,000 population on Monday, Dec. 13.
The cohort with the next highest rate of active cases is the 18-24 age group, with 64 active cases or 121.3 per 100,000 population as of Monday.
Information on local variants of concern can be found by visiting the health unit’s summary of COVID-19 cases on the Middlesex-London page and clicking on the “Case Status” tab.
As of Monday, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) was caring for 13 inpatients with COVID-19, with five or fewer in adult critical care or the intensive care unit.
There were five or fewer inpatients with COVID-19 in LHSC’s Children’s Hospital, with five or fewer in pediatric critical care.
Eleven staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.
St. Joseph’s Health Care London is reporting one case involving a health-care worker.
The MLHU is not reporting any outbreaks at long-term care homes, retirement homes or hospitals but there are several outbreaks involving schools:
- Byron Northview Public School, declared Dec. 9
- Delaware School, declared Dec. 11
- Ecole elementaire catholique Saint-Jean-de-Brebeuf, declared Dec. 10
- Ecole elementaire catholique Set-Jeanne-d’Arc, declared Dec. 12
- Mountsfield Public School, declared Dec. 7
- Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, declared Dec. 6
- Princess Elizabeth Public School, declared Dec. 9
- Riverside Public School, declared Dec. 6
- Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School, declared Dec. 10
- St. Andre Bessette Secondary School, declared Dec. 9
- St. Jude Catholic School, declared Dec. 7
- St. Marguerite d’Youville School, declared Dec. 3
- St. Mary Choir and Orchestra Catholic School, declared Dec. 5
- St. Nicholas Catholic School, declared Dec. 8
- Tecumseh Public School, declared Dec. 3
- West Oaks French Immersion Public School, declared Dec. 4
There is also an outbreak, three childcare centres.
- Kidzone Day Care Centre, declared Dec. 6
- Tiny Hoppers Early Leaning Centre – Summerside, declared Dec. 12
- Wortley YMCA Child Care Centre, declared Dec. 10
An outbreak at Fanshawe College’s Merlin House residence, declared Nov. 28, and at Western University’s Saugeen-Maitland Hall residence, declared Nov. 27, are ongoing. As of Thursday, the outbreak at Saugeen was tied to 17 cases while the outbreak at Merlin House was tied to five cases.
An outbreak was declared at Western’s Delaware Hall Residency on Dec. 10.
The MLHU also announced Monday there is an outbreak at God’s Favourite House, a church on Dearness Drive, connected to the Omicron cluster.
The following schools have active cases associated with them, according to the MLHU:
- Blessed Sacrament Catholic School (one case)
- Byron Northview Public School (six cases)
- Caradoc Public School (one case)
- Clara Brenton Public School (one case)
- Delaware Central School (two cases)
- Eagle Heights Public School (two cases)
- École élémentaire catholique Frère André (one case)
- École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf (nine cases)
- École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jeanne-d’Arc (three cases)
- Franklin D. Roosevelt Public School (three cases)
- London Christian Academy (two cases)
- Lord Dorchester Secondary School (one case)
- Matthews Hall (one case)
- Mountsfield Public School (one case)
- Northdale Central Public School (one case)
- Northridge Public School (one case)
- Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School (four cases)
- Princess Elizabeth Public School (one case)
- Riverside Public School (one case)
- Sir Arthur Carty Public School (one case)
- Sir Arthur Currie Public School (one case)
- St. Andre Bessette Secondary School (six cases)
- St. Catherine of Siena Elementary School School (two case)
- St. Jude Catholic School (two cases)
- St. Marguerite d’Youville School (two cases)
- St. Nicholas Catholic School (three cases)
- St. Rose of Lima Catholic School (one case)
- St. Thomas More Catholic School (two cases)
- Strathroy Community Christian School (three cases)
- West Oaks French Immersion Public School (five cases)
- Westmount Public School (one case)
The MLHU is reporting cases at several child-care and early-years centres in its jurisdiction:
- F. D. Roosevelt YMCA School Age in London, one case
- Kidzone Day Care Centre in London, one case
- L’Escale St. Jean de Brébeuf in London, one case
- London Children’s Connection – Eagle Heights Before and After School, one case
- London Children’s Connection – Mountsfield Before and After School, one case
- St. Theresa YMCA Child Care, one case
- Tiny Hoppers Early Learning Centre – Summerside, two cases
- Wortley YMCA Child Care Centre, two cases
The health unit says at least 393 cases have been reported since the start of the school year involving elementary and secondary schools, as well as child-care and early-years centres.
Vaccinations and testing
The MLHU provided updated vaccination data, covering up to the end of the day, on Dec. 4.
According to the MLHU, 90.5 per cent of residents aged 12 and older have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Dec. 4 while 87.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Among the entire population aged five and over, 85.1 per cent of the population has had at least one dose while 81.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Vaccinations for those aged five to 11 began Nov. 26 in London and in just over a week, 23.5 per cent of that cohort have had their first dose.
As for the vaccination status of cases, the MLHU says unvaccinated individuals have accounted for 38 per cent of all cases (334 of 880) and 34.8 per cent of hospitalizations (eight of 23) since Nov. 1.
Of the 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the last six weeks, five individuals were unvaccinated. One involved someone partially vaccinated and four involved someone who was fully vaccinated.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is increasing capacity for COVID-19 vaccinations in January as residents 50 and older are eligible for a third dose as of Monday.
Local health officials have announced plans to reopen a vaccination clinic at the Earl Nichols Recreation Centre next month. The facility, which stopped operating in early September, will begin offering vaccines starting on Jan. 6, 2022. The centre will operate Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The health unit will also be increasing the number of days its COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Caradoc Community Centre will be operating. Starting Jan. 4, the clinic location in Mount Brydges will provide doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The province announced on Friday that all Ontarians over the age of 18 will be eligible to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine starting Jan. 4.
On the health unit’s website, residents can find information on pop-up clinics, mass vaccination clinics and pharmacies; guidance for anyone vaccinated outside of the province or country; transportation support for those in need; and more.
Anyone looking to be tested for COVID-19 can find information about the locations of testing sites on the health unit’s website.
The latest COVID-19 test positivity rate in the region was 3.1 per cent for the week of Nov. 28, up from 2.1 per cent for the week of Nov. 21.
Ontario is reporting 1,536 new COVID cases on Monday, as case counts continue to soar over the last week and test positivity has hit an almost seven-month high. The provincial case total now stands at 633,683.
For comparison, last Monday saw 887 new cases and the previous Monday saw 788. Over the last three days, there were 1,476 new cases reported Sunday, 1,607 on Saturday and 1,453 on Friday.
However, as infections surge, patients with COVID in ICUs (intensive care units) have remained relatively stable but are on an overall slow rise.
Of the 1,536 new cases recorded, the data showed 601 were unvaccinated people, 33 were partially vaccinated people, 809 were fully vaccinated people and for 93 people the vaccination status was unknown.
As of 8 p.m. on Sunday, there are more than 11.3 million people fully immunized with two doses, which is 87.6 per cent of the aged 12 and older population. First dose coverage stands at 90.3 per cent. There are 1,128,482 Ontarians who have received a booster shot.
For young children aged five to 11, first dose coverage stands at 30.9 per cent — 332,757 doses out of just over 1 million eligible children.
Elgin and Oxford
On Monday, Southwestern Public Health reported:
- 5,706 total cases (an increase of 74 cases)
- 224 active cases (an increase of 24)
- 5,375 resolved cases (an increase of 49)
- 106 deaths to date (increase of one)
There are no details on this latest death.
SWPH did not report any deaths Thursday or Friday, but reported two deaths on Wednesday, two on Tuesday and one on Monday.
Wednesday’s deaths involved a man in his 50s from St. Thomas and a man in his 70s from Oxford County. Tuesday’s deaths involved a woman in her 50s and a man in his 60s, both from Elgin County. The death reported Monday involved a man in his 70s.
Further details can be found on SWPH’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Of the 224 active cases in the region, 114 were in Elgin County (including 64 in St. Thomas and 26 in Aylmer) and 111 were in Oxford County (including 40 in Woodstock and 32 in Tillsonburg).
Fourteen people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with seven in the ICU as of Monday.
An outbreak at Caressant Care Bonnie Place in St. Thomas declared Nov. 28 is ongoing. It involves nine resident cases and eight staff cases.
The region’s test positivity rate was 5.3 per cent for the week of Nov. 28, down from 5.9 per cent for the week of Nov. 21.
As of Dec. 12, 75.6 per cent of those aged five and older in the region were fully vaccinated while 80 per cent have had at least one dose.
Information on where and how to get vaccinated can be found on the health unit’s website.
Huron and Perth
On Monday, Huron Perth Public Health reported:
- 2,711 total cases (an increase of 110)
- 115 active cases (an increase of 33)
- 2,526 recoveries (an increase of 17)
- 70 deaths to date (unchanged)
Friday there was one case under investigation for the Omicron variant in Huron Perth the case is linked to community exposures in two locations in Huron County on Saturday, Dec. 4.
HPPH said it was reaching out to everyone identified as a high-risk contact. The investigation is also tied to the Pink at the Rink tournament.
The most recent death was reported Nov. 29 and involved a community member connected to a workplace outbreak, according to a spokesperson for the health unit.
Among the 115 active cases, 29 were in North Perth and 18 in Perth East. Full case counts by the municipality can be found on the health unit’s dashboard.
There were four people hospitalized with COVID-19 and one active case involving a health-care worker as of Monday.
HPPH has eight active outbreaks involving five schools and three workplaces:
- Perth Care for Kids in West Perth, declared Dec. 6, involves two students.
- North Perth Westfield ES in North Perth, declared Nov. 30, involves 11 students and one staff case.
- North Perth Westfield Before and After Program, declared Nov. 29, involves two students.
- Elma Township Public School in North Perth, declared Nov. 23, involves 26 students.
- Milverton Public School in Perth East, declared Dec. 9, involves two students.
No further information was provided about the workplace outbreaks.
As of Dec. 13, 82 per cent of residents aged five and older have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose while 78 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The region’s test positivity rate was 2.9 per cent for the week of Nov. 28, down from 3.6 per cent for the week of Nov. 21.
Information on how and where to get a vaccine can be found on the health unit’s website.
Sarnia and Lambton
On Monday, Lambton Public Health (LPH) reported:
- 4,517 total cases (an increase of 49)
- 77 active cases (an increase of 14)
- 4,362 resolved cases (an increase of 35)
- 78 deaths (unchanged)
The most recent death was reported Friday, Dec. 3.
As of Monday, there were eight COVID-19 patients in the care of Bluewater Health.
LPH is reporting four active outbreaks:
- An outbreak at St. Anne Catholic School declared Dec. 3 and involving seven cases.
- An outbreak at St. Bartholomew’s Early Childhood Learning Centre was declared Dec. 3 and involved five cases.
- An outbreak at Bright’s Grove Public School, declared Dec. 10 and involved fewer than five cases.
- An outbreak at JOhn Knox Christian School, declared Dec. 10 and involved fewer than five cases.
- An outbreak at an unidentified workplace was declared Dec. 6, involving two cases.
A previous outbreak at an unidentified workplace, declared Nov. 28 and involving two cases, was listed as over as of Dec. 9.
The test positivity rate for the week of Nov. 28 was 3.9 per cent, up from 2.8 per cent the week before.
Among area residents aged five and older, 79 per cent have had at least one dose while 75 per cent have had two doses. Seven per cent have had a third dose.
Residents can book and re-book COVID-19 vaccine appointments or find information on vaccine availability at pharmacies using the health unit’s registration page. People can also contact the vaccine call centre at 226-254-8222.
Those who are able to get vaccinated on short notice are encouraged to sign up for Lambton Public Health’s daily Vaccine Standby List.
— with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick and Gabby Rodrigues