Coronavirus: 21 new instances London-Middlesex; 18 instances in Elgin and Oxford – London

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Twenty-seven new coronavirus cases and 23 new recoveries were reported Saturday by officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

In addition, the number of cases in the region that have screened variant-positive has risen by three.

As of Saturday, the region’s pandemic case tally stands at 6,413, of which 6,066 have resolved.

At least 185 virus-related deaths have been reported since the pandemic began, most recently on Monday.

The health unit says at least 162 cases are considered active in London-Middlesex as of Saturday. The locations of the active cases have not been made public.

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At least 214 cases and two deaths have been reported so far this month in London-Middlesex, which remains in the orange-restrict level of the province’s COVID-19 response framework.

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Of the 21 new cases, 15 are from London while two are from Middlesex Centre. There was one case each in Middlesex Centre, Southwest Middlesex and Strathroy-Caradoc. Three other case are pending location data.

The health unit says three additional cases have been found to be screened variant-positive cases, bringing the total number of Variants of Concern (VOC) cases in London and Middlesex to 27. The figure is six more than Monday’s and double the number seen on Thursday of last week.

At least four of the cases have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. The others remain under genomic sequencing, a process that can take up to two weeks from the time a sample screens positive for mutations that are common to variants of concern.

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Variants of concern have been appearing more in local case numbers, with the percentage of variant cases increasing week-over-week, officials say.

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Case numbers locally have been on the rise overall recently, raising concerns of a looming third wave. The case increases have been driven in part by variants, but also by residents engaging in close contact with too many people, the health unit has said.

During Thursday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said the average number of close contacts health officials have been recording has been six per person, enough to generate increased spread through the community.

“The things that are causing this third wave to kick into gear are really the same things that have been causing the COVID pandemic since the beginning … and that is close contacts indoors,” Mackie said.

“It’s so important as we look forward to St. Patrick’s Day next week, to Easter a few weeks after that, that people plan to have safe, small, outdoor gatherings … This third wave is just beginning and it will continue likely until May or June, as we saw the first wave tapering off last year.”






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Mackie’s calls for smaller outdoor gatherings came the same day officials declared a community outbreak after at least 22 people who had attended post-secondary gatherings last week at private homes tested positive for the virus.

At least 10 post-secondary student gatherings between March 2 and March 6 have been tied to the outbreak.

“At this point, it looks like the vast majority are Western students, possibly all of them. We’re just confirming some of that,” Mackie said Thursday.

“We know that there were some fraternity, sorority sort-of organisations involved. We don’t have the details at this point in terms of exactly where all of these gatherings were and … the number of students involved (with each gathering).”

A statement from Western University implied that the 22 infected were all students, most of whom lived off-campus. Three lived on-campus and have been put in self-isolation outside of residence, the statement said.

Mackie noted the outbreak did not involve variants and did not appear connected to an ongoing outbreak at Western’s Essex Hall residence since March 2.

During Thursday’s briefing, London Mayor Ed Holder threatened fines if that was what it took to “exact appropriate behaviours for the sake of our whole community.”

“We’ve been better than this and we are better than this,” he said.

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“It’s been a year, warnings are done. And I’m here to say that if people are not wearing masks well, are not following the public health guidelines, there will be fines.”

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The region’s seven-day case average stood at 20.57 as of Friday, up from 19.28 Thursday. The 14-day average sits at 19.0.

At least 5,592 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 252 have been in Middlesex Centre.

Elsewhere, 209 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 96 in Thames Centre, 55 in Lucan Biddulph, 40 in Southwest Middlesex, 33 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.

At least 120 cases have pending location information.

Hospitalizations

London Health Science Centre has not updated its current case information since Friday.

The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre stood at seven as of Friday, an increase of one from the day before and two from Wednesday.

The number in critical or intensive care remained unchanged at fewer than five.

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There remains fewer than five active staff cases within the organization.

No patient or staff cases were reported as being active at any St. Joseph’s Health Care London facility. The organization has not issued an update on patient or staff cases since Monday night, and says it will once case numbers change.

At least 368 people have been hospitalized during the pandemic, including 67 who have needed intensive care. The total number of people ever hospitalized has increased by two from the day before.


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Institutional outbreaks

Two new institutional outbreaks have been declared in the region, including one at University Hospital.

The outbreak is the first to be seen at the hospital in more than a month after an outbreak in the emergency department sickened at least 10 staff members between Jan. 15 and Feb. 4.

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The latest outbreak, declared Friday, is linked to fewer than five patient cases and is located in U4 – Medicine, also known as 4IP General Medicine, the same unit that saw a significant outbreak from Nov. 10 to Dec. 29, 2020.

University Hospital had at least 13 outbreaks appear during that timeframe, of which at least five were directly connected to the initial outbreak in 4IP General Medicine. The 13 outbreaks were linked to at least 174 cases in total and 23 deaths.

To quell the severe outbreak, LHSC implemented stricter measures at University Hospital on Nov. 28, measures which remain in place today, according to LHSC.

“Any individuals with urgent medical concerns should not delay seeking immediate care. LHSC’s emergency departments at both University and Victoria Hospitals remain open and safe for care,” LHSC said in a statement.

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Elsewhere, the region’s other newly declared outbreak is located at Dearness Home on the east and west wings of the second floor. It’s not clear how many cases are linked to the outbreak.

Including Friday’s two outbreaks, at least eight institutional outbreaks are active in the region.

Active institutional outbreaks (as of March 12), as declared on:

  • March 12 at Dearness Home (2E/2W)
  • March 12 at University Hospital (4IP General Medicine)
  • March 11 at Glendale Crossing (Brighton)
  • March 6 at Fox Hollow Retirement Residence (2nd, 3rd, 4th floors)
  • March 5 at Meadow Park Care Centre (Pink Unit)
  • March 4 at Strathmere Lodge (Bear Creek, Sydenham)
  • Feb. 28 at Richmond Woods (facility)
  • Feb. 24 at Chartwell Royalcliffe Retirement Residence (facility)

At least 110 institutional outbreaks have been declared in the region since the pandemic began last March, with at least 82 at seniors’ facilities.

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Long-term care and retirement homes have been tied to 785 of all cases reported in London-Middlesex and 106 of its deaths.

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An outbreak at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre remains active, however, no inmate cases were reported at the facility as of Wednesday. No staff cases were active that day either, according to a provincial spokesperson.

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The outbreak, declared Jan. 18, has been associated with at least 29 staff and 27 inmate cases.

Outbreaks remain active for two incubation periods after the last positive test result, or 28 days after the last new case, the health unit says.

Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak is active at Western University’s Essex Hall resident.

The aforementioned community outbreak is also considered active.

Schools

Global News does not update school cases over the weekend.

At least two new school cases were reported by the health unit Friday.

One case is located at A.B. Lucas Secondary School in London while the other is at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Middlesex Centre.

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The cases are among 10 that are active in the region as of Friday, according to the health unit.

A full list of active cases can be found on the MLHU website.

Outbreaks remain active at three schools: Bonaventure Meadows Public School, Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School, and St. Mark Catholic School.

Bonaventure has one active case, as does Sir Arthur Carty. St. Mark Catholic has no active cases, according to the health unit.

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At least 238 school and child care centre cases have been reported during the pandemic in London-Middlesex, MLHU figures show.

No child care centre have active cases in the region.

In the post-secondary world, an outbreak remains active at Western University’s Essex Hall residence.

Vaccinations and testing

The region’s 50,000th vaccine dose is anticipated to be administered Friday, Dr. Chris Mackie said Thursday during a scheduled media briefing.

The health unit has been handing out vaccines at the Western Fair District Agriplex in London since late December and at Caradoc Community Centre since last month. Vaccines have been administered to eligible members of the community under Phase 1 of the province’s three-phase vaccination plan.

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This week the health unit opened vaccinations to all remaining health-care workers defined as “very high priority” by the province, along with adults 16 and older who are chronic home care recipients.

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Among the health-care workers now eligible are those working in correctional settings, dentistry, hospital-based outpatient clinics, contract nursing agencies, hospices and palliative care settings, pharmacies, shelters, and others.

With some health units in southern Ontario beginning to offer jabs to additional age groups, including in Chatham-Kent which is now offering them to people aged 75 and older, Mackie was asked Thursday when a similar move may be made here.

Mackie said it was anticipated that those 75 and older would be eligible for the vaccine soon, “certainly by the end of the month.” However, he stressed there were still many health-care workers that needed to be vaccinated, including those who just became eligible.

“Because we are a health-care community that serves most of southwestern Ontario, we have a large health-care population to get through,” he said.


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The health unit hopes to enter Phase 2 of the province’s rollout in early April, Mackie said. He noted, however, that won’t mean everyone eligible under Phase 2 will be able to get a shot immediately.

“That group starts to get so large that we’ll have to break it down to early, mid, late-Phase 2 and even more granular than that in many cases.”

Last week, the province unveiled an updated vaccination timeline showing Phase 2 being rolled out with shots administered based on risk factors including age, neighbourhood, existing health conditions and inability to work from home.

Mackie says the London-Middlesex region is “definitely in the very top” when it comes to total vaccinations administered per capita.

“It’s something I think we all should be proud of, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg, we have so much more work to do.”

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The region’s two main assessment centres, located at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.1 per cent as of the week of Feb. 28, up from 0.7 the week before.

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At least 8,819 people were tested the week of Feb. 28, down from 10,490 the week prior.

Ontario

Ontario reported 1,468 cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 316,359.

“Locally, there are 381 new cases in Toronto, 226 in Peel and 168 in York Region,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

It marks the largest single-day increase in cases since Monday when 1,631 were reported, though officials said that total was affected by “a data catch-up process.”

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Other than Monday, Ontario hasn’t seen a single-day jump in cases as high as Saturday’s since Feb. 7, when 1,489 were reported.

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A total of 297,403 COVID-19 cases are considered resolved, which is up by 1,151.

Eleven new deaths were also reported on Saturday, bringing the provincial death toll to 7,138.

As of 8 p.m. Friday, 1,116,496 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Ontario, which is up by a record 53,586 over 24 hours.

So far, 284,686 people in the province are considered to be fully vaccinated.

Elgin and Oxford

Eighteen new coronavirus cases have been reported and eleven have resolved, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported Saturday.

Officials also reported late Friday afternoon that a variant of concern had been identified at a school in Woodstock that is currently experiencing an outbreak.

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The update brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,624, of which 2,501 have resolved and 67 have died. The most recent death was reported on Feb. 20.

The health unit says 56 cases are considered active in the region as of Friday, with at least 19 in Aylmer, 13 in Woodstock, and four in Norwich Township.

The region is in the orange-restrict level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.

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Another screened variant positive case has been confirmed in Elgin and Oxford, identified at St. Michael’s Catholic Elementary School in Woodstock, officials said Friday.

The news comes less than a day after the London District Catholic School Board closed the school temporarily after two new cases were confirmed there, prompting an outbreak declaration. One case had already been active at the school. Four cases are currently active at the school.

Health unit officials say the variant case is unrelated to the outbreak, which has resulted in the school’s closure until at least March 24.

Elgin-Oxford has recorded at least nine cases that have screened variant positive as of Friday, with at least two confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. Sequencing remains underway for the others.

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Elsewhere, two cases are active at St. Patrick’s School in Woodstock and one school case is still active at Emily Stowe Public School in Norwich.

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Meantime, no new outbreaks have been declared and none resolved.

Three remain active, located at Arches Transitional Bed Program in Woodstock (one staff case), Maples Retirement Home in Tavistock (one resident case), and Bethany Care Home in Norwich (one resident case).

The local vaccination effort continues to push on.

Health officials opened bookings Tuesday for eligible residents in SWPH’s jurisdiction which were quickly booked up to the week of March 15.

It’s expected 5,000 new slots will soon be available for the week of March 22.

The health unit says eligible residents should visit covidvaccinelm.ca or call 226-289-3560 on March 15 starting at 8 a.m. to book into the next block of appointments.

More information on the local vaccination campaign can be found on the health unit’s website.

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The health unit says a total of 527 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 450 have been in Aylmer, 434 in St. Thomas and 336 in Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, 206 cases have been in Norwich, 162 in Bayham, 117 in Ingersoll, 109 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 57 in Zorra, 56 in Blandford-Blenheim, 47 in South-West Oxford, 46 in Central Elgin, 25 in Southwold, 23 in Dutton/Dunwich, 20 in West Elgin and eight in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.9 per cent as of the week of Feb. 28, down from 1.6 per cent as of the week before.

At least 3,739 people were tested the week of Feb. 28, down from 4,773 the week before.

Huron and Perth

Zero cases been reported and three cases have resolved, Huron Perth Public Health reported Saturday.

The update brings the region’s pandemic case total to 1,376, of which 1,307 have resolved.

At least 50 deaths have been reported in the region during the pandemic, most recently on March 1.

At least 29 cases are active in the region, with 12 located in Stratford and three are in Perth County. All other communities have active case numbers of two and under.

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The region has recorded at least two presumptive positive variant cases, health officials said Thursday. Both are undergoing genomic sequencing.

As of Saturday HPPH reports there are 116 high risk contacts currently under investigation in isolation.

The region is in the yellow-protect level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.


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The health unit says it continues to add more vaccination appointments.

Earlier this week it announced that, like London and Middlesex, second vaccine doses for most people would be delayed up to 16 weeks following updated guidance from the province.

The move is aimed at getting more initial shots into the community.

Long-term care home, retirement home, Elder Care Lodge and Assisted Living facility residents will continue to receive a second dose between 21 to 42 days after their first, the health unit says.

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Those looking to book a vaccination appointment are asked to do so via the health unit’s booking website, or by calling 1-833-753-2098.

More information on the local vaccination campaign can be found on the health unit’s website.

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Global News does not update school information on the weekend.

No new school cases had been reported in the region as of Friday, according to the health unit.

Two remain active in the region, both in Stratford. One case is located at St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School while the other is at St. Michael Catholic Secondary School.

No outbreaks are active in the region. An outbreak at an unnamed workplace has since been resolved.

Health unit figures show at least 553 cases have been reported in Perth County during the pandemic, including 348 in North Perth and 138 in Perth East.

Elsewhere, 455 cases have been reported in Huron County, including 101 in South Huron and 101 in Huron East. At least 336 cases have been reported in Stratford and 32 in St. Marys.

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According to new figures released Thursday, the region’s test per cent positivity rate was 1.0 per cent as of the week of Feb. 28, up from 0.8 per cent the week before.

Roughly 2,702 people were tested the week of Feb. 28, down from 3,319 a week earlier.

Sarnia and Lambton

Thirty-nine new coronavirus cases have been reported and 28 have resolved, officials with Lambton Public Health reported Saturday.

That is 16 more cases than the day before. The update comes as the province announces it is moving the region into grey-lockdown on Monday to curb steadily rising case rates in the county.

The region’s pandemic case tally stands at 2,362, of which 2,146 have resolved as of Saturday. At least 46 deaths have been reported, most recently on Feb. 17.

At least 170 cases were considered active, with five people reported in the care of Bluewater Health.

At least ten outbreaks are active in the region.

Lambton Public Health does not update detailed information on the weekend. The below information was last updated on Friday.

Information on the local vaccination campaign can be found on the health unit’s website. The health unit says more than 9,400 people have gotten the vaccine.

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Lambton Public Health moving to grey-lockdown on Monday, province says

The move to grey-lockdown, the most restrictive of the levels outlined in the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework, will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

As a result, Lambton will be the only region in southern Ontario outside of Peel and Toronto to be in lockdown. It comes nearly three weeks after the province moved Lambton from orange to red.

Lambton Public Health has already recorded at least 210 cases just since the start of March, four cases shy of that reported in the same period by the Middlesex-London Health Unit, whose jurisdiction has more than 3.5 times the population.

The region has also recorded at least 20 screened variant positive cases as of Friday, according to a health unit spokesperson — an increase of 11 from the day before. All of remain under genomic sequencing.

At least two of the region’s variant cases are associated with Brooke Central Public School in Alvinston, which also has an active outbreak declaration.

Information on the impacts of grey-lockdown can be found on the province’s website.

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The number of active school cases in Lambton County continues to increase, with at least eight cases reported just on Friday.

It brings the total number of active school cases in the county to 49 as of Friday, according to figures published by both the Lambton Kent District School Board and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.

Full lists can be found on their respective websites, linked above.

Four cases were reported Friday at St. Peter Canisius Catholic School in Warwick, which brings the number of active cases there to 11.

Elsewhere, one case each was reported at Holy Trinity Catholic School, Lambton Central Collegiate and Vocational Institute, St. Anne Catholic School and St. Patrick’s Catholic High School.

Outbreaks are active at Brooke Central Public School, where six cases have been reported, including two that are screened variant positive cases. The school has been closed temporarily.

Elsewhere, two outbreaks are also active at Queen Elizabeth II Public School and Sacred Heart School, both in Sarnia, and both linked to two cases each.


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Two new institutional outbreaks were declared on Friday, both at long-term care homes in Sarnia.

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One outbreak is located at Trillium Villa while one is at Vision Nursing Home. Both outbreaks are linked to one staff case each.

They’re among at least five seniors’ facility outbreaks that are active as of Friday, declared on:

  • March 11 at Trillium Villa in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • March 11 at Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • March 9 at Landmark Village in Sarnia (one staff case)
  • March 7 at Lambton Meadowview Villa in Petrolia (one staff case)
  • Feb. 24 at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia (three staff cases).

Elsewhere, an outbreak remains active at Good Shepherd’s Lodge, a shelter in Sarnia. Declared on Feb. 24, it’s been associated with six resident and three staff cases.

One workplace outbreak is also active in the county, declared on Feb. 25. It’s linked to eight cases.

Including the three previously mentioned school cases, the number of active outbreaks in Lambton numbers 10 as of Friday.

The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 3.1 per cent as of the week of Feb. 28, up from 1.7 per cent the week prior.

At least 3,959 people were tested the week of Feb. 28, down from 4,438 a week earlier.

— With files from Matthew Trevithick, Ryan Rocca, and The Canadian Press

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