For the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, the London and Middlesex region surpassed the 300 mark for new infections on Friday, setting a new pandemic case record for the third day in a row amid an ongoing surge in cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported that the region had recorded 335 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from the previous record of 263 on Thursday. That was up from 228 on Wednesday, which at the time was also a record.
The update is the health unit’s last before the Christmas weekend.
Friday’s case count is roughly triple that seen a week earlier. The region’s seven-day moving case average stood at 190 as of Friday, up from 72.6 seven days earlier and 38 two weeks earlier.
In total, there have been 17,081 confirmed cases since the onset of the pandemic, including 1,594 active cases (an increase of 276), 15,168 resolved cases (an increase of 62) and 257 deaths (unchanged).
The most recent death was reported Dec. 16 and involved a man in his 90s, not associated with a long-term care or retirement home. He was unvaccinated.
With the Omicron variant, testing systems strained and open testing appointments hard to come by, the actual number of cases active is likely much higher.
Earlier this week, the health unit issued new guidance stating that the soaring case counts were placing an overwhelming burden on contact tracing efforts, and that anyone who developed any kind of respiratory symptoms should treat it like COVID-19 and self-isolate, telling their household to do the same, the guidance said.
Active case rates per 100,000 population remain highest among school-aged children 17 and younger (437), followed by those 25 to 39 (429), those 12 to 17 (414), those 18 to 24 (335), those 40 to 64 (280) and those 65-plus (76).
Information on local variants of concern can be found on the health unit’s summary of COVID-19 cases on the Middlesex-London page and the “Case Status” tab.
No new hospitalization data was available on Friday. London Health Sciences Centre says it is pausing reporting over the holiday period and will issue its next update on Dec. 28.
As of Thursday, at least 15 COVID-19 patients were in the care of LHSC, up from 13 the day before
Of those 15, six were in adult critical care or the intensive care unit, five or fewer were in LHSC’s Children Hospital and five or fewer were in pediatric critical care.
While COVID-19 patient numbers have remained steady, cases among health-care workers have surged in recent days, with 54 cases active among LHSC staff on Thursday, up from 12 a week earlier.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, 20 health-care workers were positive with COVID-19 as of Friday, up from 17 on Thursday.
Of those, one staff case was linked to a newly declared outbreak at Parkwood Institute’s main building.
One new outbreak has been declared at Parkwood Institute’s main building, linked to one resident case and one staff case.
Outbreaks also remain active at Chartwell London in Magnolia, declared Dec. 18, and at McCormick Home in its Memory Lane and Evergreen areas, declared Dec. 14.
Outbreaks are also active at 26 local schools, with the most recent declared Thursday at J S Buchanan French Immersion Public School and at Stoney Creek Public School.
- A. B. Lucas Secondary School, declared Dec. 20
- Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, declared Dec. 18
- Byron Northview Public School, declared Dec. 9
- Byron Somerset Public School, declared Dec. 21
- Caradoc Public School, declared Dec. 19
- Clara Brenton Public School, declared Dec. 17
- École élémentaire catholique Frère-André, declared Dec. 15
- École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf, declared Dec. 10
- École élémentaire catholique St-Jeanne-d’Arc, declared Dec. 12
- École élémentaire La Pommeraie, declared Dec. 16
- Emily Carr Public School, declared Dec. 20
- H. B. Beal Secondary School, declared Dec. 21
- J S Buchanan French Immersion Public School, declared Dec. 23
- John Dearness Public School, declared Dec. 20
- London Christian Academy, declared Dec. 16
- Notre Dame Catholic School, declared Dec. 20
- 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
- Sir Arthur Currie Public School, declared Dec. 14
- St. Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School, declared Dec. 17
- St. André Bessette Secondary School, declared Dec. 9
- Stoney Creek Public School, declared Dec. 23
- Strathroy Community Christian School, declared Dec. 13
- Wilberforce Public School, declared Dec. 22
At child-care and early years settings, three outbreaks are currently active, with the most recent declared Thursday at Wee Watch — Dream Weavers Daycare:
- Wee Watch — Dream Weavers Daycare, declared Dec. 23
- YMCA: North Meadows Elementary School — Before and After School, declared Dec. 22
- YMCA: St. Patrick Catholic School — Before and After School, declared Dec. 19
The following post-secondary institutions also have ongoing outbreaks:
- Fanshawe College – Merlin House Residence, declared Nov. 28
- Western University – Delaware Hall Residence, declared Dec. 10
- Western University – Saugeen-Maitland Hall Residence, declared Nov. 27
At least 66 COVID-19 cases were active at 38 local schools on Friday, according to the Middlesex-London Health Unit:
- A. B. Lucas Secondary School (seven cases)
- Ashley Oaks Public School (one case)
- Blessed Sacrament Catholic School (one case)
- Byron Somerset Public School (three cases)
- C.C. Carrothers Public School (one case)
- Caradoc Public School in Strathroy-Caradoc (one case)
- Clarke Road Secondary School (two cases)
- École élémentaire catholique Frère André (two cases)
- École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf (one case)
- École élémentaire catholique Ste-Jeanne-d’Arc (one case)
- École élémentaire La Pommeraie (one case)
- Emily Carr Public School (one case)
- Glen Cairn Public School (one case)
- J. S. Buchanan French immersion Public School in Stathroy-Caradoc (two cases)
- John Dearness Public School (three cases)
- Kensal Park French Immersion Public School (one case)
- London Central Secondary School (one case)
- Northdale Central Public School in Thames Centre (one case)
- Northridge Public School (one case)
- Notre Dame Catholic School (four cases)
- Oakridge Secondary School (one case)
- Ryerson Public School (one case)
- Saunders Secondary School (one case)
- Sir Arthur Currie Public School (five cases)
- Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School (three cases)
- St. Andre Bessette Secondary School (six cases)
- St. Anthony Catholic French Immersion School (one case)
- St. Catherine of Siena Elementary School (one case)
- St. Francis Catholic School (one case)
- St. Jude Catholic School (one case)
- St. Kateri Catholic School (two cases)
- St. Mary Choir & Orchestra Catholic School (two cases)
- St. Patrick Catholic School in Lucan Biddulph (one case)
- Stoney Creek Public School (two cases)
- Strathroy Community Christian School in Strathroy-Caradoc (one case)
- West Nissouri Public School in Thames Centre (one case)
- Wilberforce Public School in Lucan Biddulph (two cases)
- Woodland Heights Public School (one case)
Cases were also active at child-care and early-years centres:
- London Children’s Connection: John Dearness Before and After School (three cases)
- Springbank Early Childhood Learning Centre (one case)
The health unit says at least 600 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
As of Dec. 18, the most recent data available, 81.7 per cent of residents five and older had gotten two doses of vaccine, while 87.1 per cent have had at least one dose, up from 81.5 per cent and 86.3 per cent the week prior.
When looking specifically at those five to 11, who have only been able to get vaccinated locally since Nov. 26, 40.5 per cent have had their first dose as of Dec. 18.
On Thursday, the health unit said that it would be prioritizing its supply of Pfizer vaccine for those aged 12 to 29. Those 30 and older will receive the Moderna vaccine.
The city’s main COVID-19 assessment centre at Carling Heights will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The centre will operate from 9:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and from 10:20 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Regular hours will resume on Boxing Day.
Telephone booking will be unavailable from Dec. 24 to 27 as well as on Jan. 3, 2022, but appointments can still be booked online, however open slots book up quickly, resulting in a multi-day wait for most Londoners.
Unvaccinated residents, who make up just 12 per cent of the local population, made up 41 per cent of cases in the past six weeks, and 44 per cent of the region’s 27 hospitalizations in that time period.
Of the 11 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the last six weeks, six individuals were unvaccinated, four were fully vaccinated and one was partially vaccinated.
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 6.7 per cent for the week of Dec. 12, up from 3.7 per cent for the week of Dec. 5 and 3.1 per cent for the week of Nov. 28.
The province set a new record high in daily COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row, reporting 9,571 new infections Friday.
The new peak comes a day after the province’s last record tally of 5,790.
Before that, the highest number of new daily cases was 4,812, recorded in April.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 508 people are hospitalized with the virus, 355 of whom are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.
Experts said Thursday that the current spike in daily infections doesn’t present a full picture of the COVID-19 situation in the province, as testing systems are increasingly strained in several regions due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
Elgin and Oxford
For the second time this week, the Elgin-Oxford region saw a triple-digit case increase on Friday, while for the third time this week, a death was reported.
On Friday, Southwestern Public Health reported:
- 6,221 total cases (an increase of 110, with two previous cases removed due to data cleanup)
- 479 active cases (an increase of 82)
- 5,631 resolved cases (an increase of 25)
- 111 deaths to date (an increase of one)
The most recent death, reported Friday, involved a woman in her 70s from Elgin. It’s the 13th COVID-19-related death to be reported by the health unit this month, and the third to be reported since Monday.
The two previous deaths, reported Dec. 21, involved a woman in her 100s from St. Thomas and a woman in her 80s from Oxford County.
Of the 479 active cases in the region, 222 were in Elgin County (including 129 in St. Thomas and 27 in Central Elgin) and 257 were in Oxford County (including 114 in Woodstock and 38 in Ingersoll).
As of Dec. 16, the health unit says all cases “will be automatically closed after 10 days of a positive result,” regardless of their outcome. Further details can be found on SWPH’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Thirteen people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with five in the ICU as of Friday, an increase of one for both tallies.
An outbreak at Caressant Care Bonnie Place in St. Thomas declared Nov. 28 is ongoing. It involves 11 resident cases and nine staff cases. Two deaths are associated with the outbreak. All tallies are unchanged from the day before.
No new school outbreaks were reported. SWPH says outbreaks are active at the following schools:
- St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in West Lorne, declared Dec. 10
- Hickson Central Public School in Hickson, declared Dec. 15
- Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute in Ingersoll, declared Dec. 15
- King’s Academy Private School in St. Thomas, declared Dec. 16
- St. Joseph High School in St. Thomas, declared Dec. 17
- St. Michael’s Catholic Elementary School, declared Dec. 19
- Westfield Public School in Tillsonburg, declared Dec. 19
- Mitchell Hepburn Public School, declared Dec. 20
- Dunwich Dutton Public School in Dutton, declared Dec. 21
- Oliver Stephens Public School in Woodstock, declared Dec. 21
- Holy Family Catholic French Immersion School in Woodstock, declared Dec. 22
- Thamesford Public School in Thamesford, declared Dec. 22
Roughly 6.8 per cent of tests in the region were coming back positive as of the week of Dec. 12, the highest percentage of the pandemic, up from 4.6 per cent the week of Dec. 5.
As of Dec. 23, 76.0 per cent of those aged five and older in the region had received two doses of the vaccine, while 81 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.
SWPH is not currently accepting calls for vaccine appointments “until we get through our current backlog of voicemails.” The health unit encouraged people to join its Same Day Vaccination List, which offers any leftover doses due to cancellations or no-shows.
Huron and Perth
On Friday, Huron Perth Public Health reported:
- 2,995 total cases (an increase of 65)
- 229 active cases (an increase of 56)
- 2,694 recoveries (an increase of eight)
- 72 deaths to date (an increase of one)
Details on the death are not yet known.
Among the 229 active cases, 71 were in Stratford, 29 were in Huron East, 23 were in North Perth, 19 were in Central Huron, and 18 were in St. Marys. Full case counts by the municipality can be found on the health unit’s dashboard.
Thirteen people were hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 as of Friday, with four patients still considered active cases.
At least three of the region’s active cases involve health-care workers.
HPPH has 11 active outbreaks involving 10 schools and one workplace. The most recent school outbreak was declared on Thursday at Listowel Christian School.
- Clinton Public School in Central Huron, declared Dec. 13 and involving one staff member and two students
- Elma Township Public School in North Perth, declared Nov. 23 and involving 27 students
- Howick Central Public School in Howick, declared Dec. 15 and involving three student cases
- Listowel Christian School in North Perth, declared Dec. 23 and involving two student cases
- Listowel District Secondary School in North Perth, declared Dec. 16 and involving two staff and three student cases
- Little Falls Public School in St. Marys, declared Dec. 14 and involving five students
- Milverton Public School in Perth East, declared Dec. 9 and involving four students
- North Perth Westfield ES in North Perth, declared Nov. 30 and involving one staff member and 11 students
- North Woods Elementary School in Huron East, declared Dec. 22 and involving one staff member and three students
- St. Josephs Catholic Elementary Public School in Stratford, declared Dec. 13 and involving two students
No further information was provided about the workplace outbreak.
As of Dec. 23, 82.5 per cent of residents aged five and older have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose while 77.6 per cent are fully vaccinated. Third-dose coverage stands at 21.4 per cent.
The region’s test positivity rate was 3.8 per cent for the week of Dec. 12, down from 4.5 per cent for the week of Dec. 5.
Information on how and where to get a vaccine can be found on the health unit’s website.
Sarnia and Lambton
No update was provided by Lambton Public Health (LPH) on Friday. The health unit says its next COVID-19 update will come on Dec. 29.
On Thursday, the health unit reported:
- 4,796 total cases (an increase of 57)
- 206 active cases (an increase of 33)
- 4,510 resolved cases (an increase of 23)
- 80 deaths to date (an increase of one)
No further information was provided about the death. It was the second death reported this week, with the first reported Dec. 21.
As of Thursday, there were 14 COVID-19 patients in the care of Bluewater Health, down from 17 on Thursday, and status quo with Wednesday.
LPH reported 10 active outbreaks on Thursday, eight of which were at unidentified workplaces.
- Bright’s Grove Public School, declared Dec. 10 and involving 10 cases
- John Knox Christian School, declared Dec. 10 and involving five cases
- an unidentified workplace declared Dec. 15, involving four cases
- four unidentified workplaces, all declared Dec. 16 and involving two cases each
- an unidentified workplace, declared Dec. 17 and involving two cases
- an unidentified workplace, declared Dec. 17 and involving three cases
- an unidentified workplace, declared Dec. 20 and involving two cases
The test positivity rate was 6.8 per cent for the week of Dec. 12, up from 3.6 per cent for the week of Dec. 5.
Among area residents aged five and older, 80 per cent have had at least one dose while 76 per cent have had two doses. Fifteen 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 Jacquelyn LeBel and The Canadian Press