One death and 46 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in London-Middlesex, local health officials reported Tuesday as the region returned to red-control under the province’s restrictions framework.
Additionally, a new outbreak has been declared at a Western University student residence.
At the same time, the region also saw 22 additional cases screen variant positive, according to the health unit.
The region’s pandemic case tally stands at 6,996, of which 6,365 cases have resolved, an increase of 33 from the day before.
The number of deaths reported now stands at 187, after the health unit says a COVID-19-related death was reported involving a man in his 80s who was not associated with a long-term care or retirement home. Previously, a death was reported on Saturday.
The update leaves 444 active cases in the region.
The health unit has confirmed at least 816 coronavirus cases since the month began, and has reported at least 142 cases that have screened variant positive.
As of Tuesday, London-Middlesex is in red-control of Ontario’s COVID Response Framework.
Of the 46 new cases, at least 40 are from London while five are from Middlesex County and one is pending location data.
Those infected skew younger, with 52 per cent under the age of 40. At least seven are 19 or younger; 12 are in their 20s; five are in their 30s; eight are in their 40s; seven are in their 50s; one is in their 60s; two are in their 70s; and one is 80 or older.
Exposure source data is pending or unavailable for 24 of the cases, while 13 are listed as being due to close contact, and one to outbreak. Eight cases have no known link.
During Monday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie said the region had seen a doubling of cases over the last week of numbers that were “already on the borderline for red.”
“Moving to the red level in the framework will not solve our problem. What we need is a wholesale change in our attitudes and behaviours about indoor gathering,” he said.
“We must keep our gatherings outdoors. Stay outdoors, please. There is no good reason for a social gathering indoors right now. I don’t care where it is or who it’s with. Keep your gatherings outdoors,” he continued.
Mackie described it as the “last chance” to avoid the province engaging its emergency brake and putting the region into lockdown again.
The health unit says at least 154 of the region’s overall cases have been screened and found to have a spike gene mutation consistent with one or more of the three variants being tracked by the province.
At least six have undergone further genomic sequencing and have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.
The race to boost COVID-19 vaccine rates as variants rise
According to Public Health Ontario, the B.1.1.7 variant has been associated with only the N501Y spike gene mutation, while variants B.1.351 and P.1, first detected in South Africa and Brazil respectively, have been associated with spike gene mutations N501Y, K417N, and E484K.
As a result, the province is now presuming that any cases that screen positive for just the N501Y mutation involve the B.1.1.7 variant and are not sending them for further genomic sequencing. (In London-Middlesex, at least 143 cases have screened positive for just the N501Y mutation. Most have not undergone genomic sequencing as a result, meaning they aren’t reflected in MLHU’s “confirmed” variant tally. It’s not clear whether they will be added at a future date.)
The health unit says at least seven cases have screened positive for both the N501Y and the E484K spike gene mutations, while four have screened positive for just the E484K mutation. Those 11 cases are undergoing genomic sequencing.
Health unit data shows people under 30 account for nearly two-thirds of all local cases that have screened positive for a spike gene mutation associated with a variant. At least 46 have involved people 19 or younger while 53 have involved people in their 20s.
Provincewide, variants of concern account for 67 per cent of Ontario coronavirus infections, according to a new brief published by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.
The variants come with a 63 per cent increased risk of hospitalization, 103 per cent increased risk of ICU admission, and a 56 per cent increased risk of death due to COVID-19, the brief says.
At least 6,111 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 273 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 227 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 101 in Thames Centre, 59 in Lucan Biddulph, 43 in Southwest Middlesex, 41 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.
At least 125 cases have pending location information.
The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of LHSC stood at 15 as of Tuesday, one fewer than the day before.
At the same time, the number of COVID-19 inpatients in critical care or intensive care stood at five or fewer, the same as the day before.
Staff cases within LHSC number seven as of Tuesday, up from five or fewer on Monday.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meantime, no COVID-19 patients are listed as being in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Six non-outbreak-related staff cases were listed as active as of Monday afternoon within SJHCL, an increase of three from the previous update. It’s not clear at what facilities the staff work.
At least 379 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 68 who have needed intensive care.
During Monday’s media briefing, Dr. Adam Dukelow, chief medical officer with LHSC, said while their occupancy rates remain relatively OK, it’s a different story elsewhere in the province.
“As we look ahead to the upcoming holiday long weekend, we know we will need the support of our community to help prevent our local hospitals from experiencing the same capacity challenges,” he said.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says the number of people hospitalized in Ontario with COVID-19 is 21 per cent higher now than it was at the start of the lockdown in late December, while ICU occupancy is 28 per cent higher.
The increase is being pinned in large part on increasing rates of cases involving variants of concern.
Figures also show that more younger people are ending up in hospital. The number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs under 60 is roughly 50 per cent higher than it was at the start of the lockdown, the advisory table says.
Premier Ford tells people not to have plans for Easter, ‘won’t hesitate to lock things down’
No new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none have been resolved.
Three remain active in the region, with one outbreak each at Glendale Crossing (Brighton), Henley Place Long-Term Care (Victoria Unit), and Kensington Village (long-term care, first floor).
On Monday, an outbreak at University Hospital in U4-Medicine 1, or 4IP General Medicine, was declared over.
The outbreak had been linked to at least six patient cases and fewer than five staff cases.
Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains active at the city’s jail. The Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre outbreak was declared on Jan. 18 and has been linked to at least 30 inmate and 29 staff cases.
At least one inmate case was listed active at the jail as of Sunday, according to provincial data. Similar information was not immediately available for staff cases.
Four non-institutional outbreaks are also active at three separate Western University student residences.
At least five new school cases have been reported in London-Middlesex and a new outbreak has been declared at Western University.
Two cases were reported late Monday by the Thames Valley District School Board at Mountsfield Public School and North Meadows Public School, while one was reported by the London District Catholic School Board on Tuesday at Saint André Bessette Catholic Secondary School.
Elsewhere, one was reported at Riverbend Academy, which has declared an outbreak as a result, the health unit says.
It’s among two outbreaks active at schools in London and Middlesex, with the other at Woodland Heights Public School, which has two active cases.
One new case was also reported by Conseil scolaire Viamonde at École secondaire Gabriel-Dumont in London.
At least 18 school cases are active in the region. A full list can be found on the MLHU website.
The health unit says at least 245 cases have been reported at elementary and secondary schools, and 28 at child care/early years settings.
Three child care/early years cases were listed as active on Tuesday, with one each at London Bridge: Huron Heights Early Childhood Learning Centre; London Children’s Connection – Mountsfield Before and After School; and YMCA Before and After School Program – North Meadows Elementary School.
Growing concerns about in-class learning as COVID-19 infections close schools across Ontario
In the post-secondary world, outbreaks are active at four Western University residences.
A new outbreak was confirmed Tuesday by the health unit at Elgin Hall. At least seven cases have been confirmed there, according to a statement from the university.
The three other residence outbreaks were declared March 2 at Essex Hall, March 25 at Ontario Hall, and March 26 at Saugeen-Maitland Hall. The outbreaks in Ontario and Saugeen-Maitland halls were associated with 11 cases each as of Monday.
In the statement, Western administration announced additional safety measures, including mandating three-layer non-medical masks indoors and in the presence of others.
Such masks, the university says, will be distributed by the university starting Wednesday, including to all in-residence students.
Employees working with six feet of each other must also now wear a face shield.
Safety measures had also been increased in residences, with all common areas now closed, and students mandated to wear face coverings at all times when outside of their bedrooms.
On Monday, Dr. Chris Mackie said Western was “in the range of 20 per cent of our overall community problem.”
Vaccinations and testing
Roughly 78,380 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered locally as of March 28, the most recent figures available. Roughly 13,600 jabs were given out the week of March 22.
Vaccine eligibility opened Monday to people aged 70 to 74, and those who are 69 but are turning 70 this year.
The move came a week to the day after eligibility opened to people aged 75 to 79. More than a third of those 75-79, and more than three-quarters of those 80 and older, had received at least one dose of vaccine as of Saturday, the health unit said.
More information on eligibility can be found on the health unit’s website.
Eligible residents are asked to visit covidvaccinelm.ca or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment. Online appointments are encouraged due to the high call volume. New appointments are added daily around 7 p.m., the health unit says.
During Monday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, stated that the health unit may be able to begin booking appointments three weeks out soon instead of just two, with vaccine supply continuing to steady.
“We are starting to see the predictability of vaccines gradually improving. That means we have a little bit more visibility out beyond two weeks to know, if not exactly how much vaccine we’ll be getting, approximately how much,” he said.
The health unit has been vaccinating roughly 2,000 to 2,5000 people per day, he said. Adding a third week onto the booking window would add more than 15,000 additional appointment slots.
“We are opening about half of them up (Tuesday) or Wednesday, as we confirm the logistics of that, for anyone who is eligible by age, which includes now anyone age 70 and above,” he said. No update was available Tuesday.
“It’s a natural progression. As we finish the group of age 70 and above we’ll move on to the next group.”
Mackie noted that very little, if any, vaccine is being wasted in London-Middlesex, even in the event of appointment no-shows or cancellations.
“At the end of the day, when the last vial is opened and all the patients have been vaccinated, the staff are turning to either health-care workers in the clinic who haven’t been vaccinated yet … or to anyone who is already on the list to be booked over the next two weeks (and) calling those people in to get vaccinated,” he said.
“There also isn’t an issue with appointments not being filled, because if there are any appointments that aren’t filled in a given day, we simply put those back into the appointment calendar for the next two weeks.”
The region’s two main assessment centres, located at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.
The Carling Heights site saw an average of 429 daily visits between March 15 and 19, while Oakridge Arena saw an average of 346.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.6 per cent as of the week of March 14, up from 1.2 the previous week.
Updated figures are expected this week.
Ontario reported 2,336 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday as well as 14 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said that there were 727 new cases in Toronto, 434 in Peel Region, and 229 in York Region.
She also said there were 194 new cases in Durham Region, 144 in Ottawa and 123 in Hamilton.
Tuesday’s data was based on nearly 36,100 completed tests.
Ontario said 1,477 cases were resolved since the last daily report.
The province reported that 70,645 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Monday’s update. A total of 2,102,380 vaccine doses have been given in the province so far.
Ontario said that 1,090 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, 387 are in intensive care, and 249 people are on a ventilator.
The president of the Ontario Hospital Association said the province could face a new surge in patient transfers and cancelled surgeries as it deals with the third wave of COVID-19 in the weeks ahead.
Anthony Dale said if the trend of increasing patient numbers arriving in the province’s hospitals continues, it will further strain capacity.
Dale said that will lead to patient transfers running “24-7” to ensure they receive life-saving care and additional cancelled surgeries will be added to the current backlog of 250,000 procedures.
He said intensive care units across Ontario are seeing younger patients, with more severe cases of COVID-19, which is straining the system.
Dale warned that the pandemic is not over, despite more widespread availability of vaccines, and stressed that people must follow public health measures.
Elgin and Oxford
Twelve new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Elgin-Oxford, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported Tuesday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,809, of which 2,656 have resolved, an increase of 20 from the day before. At least 69 deaths have been reported, most recently on Monday involving a woman in her 70s who was not linked to a seniors’ facility.
At least 84 cases are listed as active in the region, the health unit says. Of those, 23 are in St. Thomas while 17 are in Woodstock and nine each in Central Elgin and Ingersoll.
One person is in hospital, according to the health unit.
The number of cases that have screened positive for a variant stands at 68, three more than the day before. Thirteen cases are listed as being active.
Five cases have been confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., while 62 others are presumed to involve the same variant as they screened positive for only the N501Y spike gene mutation.
One case, which has resolved, has screened positive for the N501Y and E484K spike gene mutations. The E484K mutation has been associated with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively. Investigation is ongoing to determine the specific variant involved.
The region remains in the orange-restrict level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.
Coronavirus Variants: How patients with weak immune system may offer clues
The local vaccination campaign rolls on, with people aged over 70 eligible to receive an initial shot.
Health officials said last week that at least three pharmacies in Elgin-Oxford would begin carrying the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming weeks as part of the province’s expanded pharmacy pilot project. Details, however, remain elusive.
At least one new school case has been reported in the region, located at Winchester Street Public School in Woodstock.
At least eight cases remain active at local schools.
Two are active at St. Patrick’s Catholic Elementary, while one each is active at:
- Central Elgin Collegiate Institute
- College Avenue Secondary School
- Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute
- Huron Perk Secondary School
- Southside Public School
- Winchester Street Public School.
Meanwhile, no new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none are currently active.
The health unit says a total of 590 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 466 have been in St. Thomas, 461 in Aylmer, and 347 in Tillsonburg.
Elsewhere, 207 cases have been in Norwich, 164 in Bayham, 134 in Ingersoll, 117 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 67 in Central Elgin, 59 in Blandford-Blenheim, 57 in Zorra, 52 in South-West Oxford, 27 in Dutton/Dunwich, 25 in Southwold, 22 in West Elgin and 13 in Malahide.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.6 per cent as of the week of March 14, up from 1.2 per cent the previous week, health unit figures show. Updated stats are expected this week.
Huron and Perth
Two new coronavirus cases have been reported in Huron-Perth, local health officials reported Tuesday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,416, of which 1,355 have resolved, an increase of seven from the day before. At least 50 deaths have been reported, most recently on March 1.
The region’s first COVID-19-related death was reported a year ago Monday.
Eleven cases are active in the region, with three each in Stratford and West Perth, two in Perth South, and one each in Bluewater, North Perth, and South Huron.
None are currently listed as being hospitalized, the health unit says.
The number of screened variant positive cases stands at 10, an increase of two from the day before. The tally also rose by two on Monday.
Details on what spike gene mutations were detected during the screening process were not immediately available. None have undergone full genomic sequencing yet to determine a specific variant involved.
The region remains in the yellow-protect level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.
The health unit says at least 18,087 doses have been administered in Huron-Perth as of March 28, the most recent figures available. The figure includes both first and second doses.
Vaccine eligibility expanded last week, as it has in other areas, to include adults aged 70 and older, and those who are 69 but who are turning 70 this year, Indigenous persons 16 and older, and certain faith leaders.
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 and eligibility can be found on the HPPH website.
“We ask that people do not attempt to book an appointment if they are not yet eligible. We are still in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout,” the health unit said in an update Monday.
“Groups who will become eligible in Phase 2 must wait until their category is announced before making a vaccination appointment. At this time, HPPH is not taking pre-registrations.”
How are you affected by the AstraZeneca guideline changes? Doctor answers your COVID-19 vaccination questions
No new outbreaks have been declared.
One outbreak is active in the region, declared on Saturday at a long-term care home in West Perth.
Located at Ritz Lutheran Villa, the outbreak is tied to one staff case and is currently the only active outbreak in the region.
Meanwhile, no new school cases have been reported in the region.
Two are active — one at Romeo Public School and one at St. Michael Catholic Secondary School, both in Stratford.
At least 563 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 349 in North Perth and 138 in Perth East, while at least 463 have been reported in Huron County, with 104 in South Huron and 101 in Huron East.
Stratford has reported at least 357 in total, while St. Marys has seen 33.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.5 per cent as of the week of March 14, down from 0.8 the week before. Updated figures are expected this week.
Sarnia and Lambton
One new death, the second in as many days, and 18 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Lambton County, health officials said Tuesday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,822, of which 2,585 have resolved, an increase of 27 from the day before.
At least 50 deaths have been reported in the region during the pandemic. Details on the death reported Tuesday were not immediately available.
At least 187 cases are active in Lambton as of Tuesday. Seven people were in the care of Bluewater Health, one more than the day before.
The number of cases that have screened variant positive has risen by 10 to 99, the health unit says. It’s not clear what spike gene mutation(s) have been detected in the 99 cases and none have finished undergoing full genomic sequencing yet to confirm a particular coronavirus variant.
The region remains in grey-lockdown of the province’s COVID-19 response framework.
The health unit says a total of at least 20,947 vaccine doses had been administered in the region as of March 18.
The health unit opened up eligibility to people aged 70-74 this week. One in-home caregiver who resides in the same household, and one in-home caregiver of an adult seeing chronic home care are also eligible.
Pre-registration has also opened up to some groups identified under Phase 2 of the province’s three-phase vaccination rollout.
Those groups include elementary and secondary school staff; childcare and licenced foster care workers; police, fire, compliance, funeral, special constables, and other workers responding to critical events; food manufacturing workers; farmworkers; and those in enforcement, inspection, and compliance roles; among others.
More information on the local vaccine rollout can be found on the health unit’s website.
Those eligible to book a vaccine appointment are asked to visit the health unit’s online vaccine registry or call 519-383-8331.
Further updates on the local vaccination campaign are expected this week.
Over 200 Queen’s University medical students are helping administer COVID-19 vaccines
At least 10 new school cases have been reported by Lambton-Kent District School Board. The school board did not issue a case update over the weekend or on Monday so it’s not clear when these cases were first confirmed.
Two cases were reported at Brooke Central Public School, while one case each was reported at Confederation Central School, Great Lakes Secondary School, High Park Public School, Lambton Central Collegiate & Vocational Institute, London Road School, North Lambton Secondary School, Northern Collegiate Institute & Vocational School, and Rosedale Public School.
North Lambton Secondary School is home to one of the region’s four active school outbreaks, with 13 associated cases.
Elsewhere, outbreaks remain active at Holy Trinity Catholic School (three cases), LKDSB Virtual Learning Elementary School – Petrolia (two cases), and St. Patrick’s Catholic High School (two cases).
One school outbreak has resolved. The outbreak was declared on March 17 at King George Public School and was associated with two cases.
Meantime, one seniors’ facility outbreak has resolved, and an outbreak at Rosewood Retirement Village continues to grow.
The resolved outbreak, declared March 16 at Sumac Lodge in Sarnia, was associated with one case.
As of Tuesday, five seniors’ facility outbreaks are active, declared on:
- March 23 at Rosewood Retirement Village (18 resident, two staff cases; five residents and one staff case more than Monday)
- March 20 at Fairwinds Lodge in Sarnia (one staff case)
- March 19 at Afton Park Place in Sarnia (two resident cases, two staff cases)
- March 18 at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia (one staff case)
- March 16 at Sumac Lodge in Sarnia (one staff case)
- March 11 at Trillium Villa in Sarnia (three staff cases)
Elsewhere, a new workplace outbreak has been declared, tied to three cases. The name of the workplace has not been released.
It’s among four workplace outbreaks that are currently active. The others are linked to four, four, and six cases, respectively.
Altogether, including school, senior’s facility and workplace outbreaks, 13 outbreaks are active in Lambton.
Outbreaks have been linked to 540 of the region’s cases — eight more than the day before — and 27 deaths. At least 85 outbreaks have been declared during the pandemic in Lambton.
The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 3.7 per cent the week of March 14, up from 3.3 a week earlier. Updated figures are expected this week.
–With files from The Canadian Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.