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For the second day in a row, and for at least the third time in just over a week, the London and Middlesex region set a new daily coronavirus case record on Thursday after local health officials reported 52 new infections.
One new death was also reported by the health unit involving a woman in her 70s who was not associated with a long-term care or retirement home.
Few other details were released. It’s the eleventh COVID-19-related death to be reported in the region just this month. At least nine have been linked to an outbreak at University Hospital.
As of Thursday, the region’s total case tally now stands at 1,979, of which 1,587 people have recovered and 77 have died.
There are at least 315 active cases in the region, the most that have been seen at any one time during the pandemic.
Thursday’s case jump surpasses the single-day COVID-19 case record set just the day before at 47. It marks the first time that the region has posted more than 50 new cases in a single day, and is the fifth time this month that more than 40 have been reported.
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Of the 52 new cases, all but four are from London, Ont., with two cases reported in Middlesex Centre, and one each in Lucan Biddulph and Thames Centre.
Once again, those infected span every age bracket tracked by the health unit. Kids and teens, people in their 20s and 30s, and people in their 50s appear most often.
Twelve people are aged 19 or under, eight each are in their 20s and 30s, four are in their 50s, 12 are in their 50s, four are in their 60s, one is in their 70s, and three are aged 80 or older.
According to health unit data, at least 30 cases have their exposure source listed as “outbreak,” while 15 are said to have contracted the virus through close contact. Meanwhile, three cases are due to travel, two have no known link, and two are pending or undetermined.
It’s not clear what specific outbreaks those cases may be attributed to as the health unit does not make that level of information public.
According to health officials, at least six are linked to University Hospital. That tally, however, could be an undercount due to lags in case follow-up. Some cases may be attributed to the outbreak days after they’re reported.
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In the retail space, Loblaw Companies Ltd. reported on its website Thursday that a presumptive positive case had been reported involving one staff member at its Wonderland Road South Loblaws location. The staff member had last worked on Nov. 29. No other information was released.
The region has reported at least 331 cases since Dec. 1, more than were reported in each of the months of March, May, June, July, August, September and October — or the months of May, June, July and August combined.
December’s still-growing case tally is only 10 cases shy of the 341 reported through all of April, the month with the second-highest number of cases. November recorded 502 cases.
As of this week, the region is in the orange-restrict level of the province’s COVID-19 response framework, however, the steady influx of new cases along with several recent outbreak declarations — including at University Hospital and at four local schools — is making a shift to the more restrictive red-control level increasingly likely, according to local health officials.
“Earlier this week, we certainly were talking about the possibility of moving into red on Monday… I think with the continuing new high record case counts, that’s becoming more and more likely,” said Dr. Chris Mackie on Thursday.
Restriction changes are announced by the province on Fridays with implementation the following week.
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The health unit is expected to hold a media briefing on Thursday afternoon. Previously,
As of Thursday, the region’s seven-day average for new cases stands at 35.28, up from 33.71 as of Wednesday. The 14-day average stands at 32.21, up from 29.64 on Wednesday.
The region’s test per cent positivity rate, meanwhile, stood at 2.1 per cent as of the week of Nov. 28, the most recent figures available from the health unit.
Details of each level’s thresholds, and more information on what restrictions each level brings, can be found in the framework document.
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With cases showing no signs of abating, local city and health officials have been pleading with residents to adhere to pandemic guidelines as the days grow colder and the holidays get closer.
On Monday, the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Chris Mackie, said that those who insist on seeing people outside of their immediate household for the holidays should consider a voluntary self-quarantine for the two weeks prior.
“Minimize any interactions with anyone to reduce the risk that you’re picking up COVID and bringing home something to a loved one. That is not the kind of gift you want to be giving at the holiday season.”
According to the health unit, 1,843 cases have been reported in London since the pandemic began, while 40 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 39 in Middlesex Centre and 34 in Thames Centre.
Lucan Biddulph has seen 11, North Middlesex eight, Southwest Middlesex two and Newbury one.
The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre has dropped noticeably, down to 44 on Thursday compared to 57 the day before, a single-day high.
In addition, fewer than five people are in critical or intensive care, compared to six on Wednesday.
It’s not clear how many COVID-19 inpatients are being admitted to LHSC per day as such data is not readily available by either LHSC, the health unit, or the province.
Current staff cases at LHSC, however, have risen to 57, an increase of three from the day before. Most, if not all, appear to be linked to University Hospital where outbreaks have impacted at least nine separate areas of the facility.
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No COVID-19 inpatients were in the care of St. Joseph’s Health Care London as of Sunday, its most recent update. The organization says it will post an update when and if numbers change.
In addition, only one active COVID-19 case is counted among its workforce.
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According to the MLHU, at least 209 people have been admitted to the hospital due to the coronavirus during the pandemic, a tally one higher than the day before.
It’s not clear, however, if the increase in the MLHU tally is due to new hospitalizations, or past hospitalizations that are only now being added into the dataset after case follow-up.
At least 43 people have been admitted to intensive care during the pandemic, the health unit says.
No new outbreaks have been reported, but several remain active in the region, nearly all of them at University Hospital (UH).
The only non-UH outbreaks are located at Country Terrace in its Woodcrest area, and at McCormick Home in its Evergreen Walk area. Both were declared Dec. 8.
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As of Thursday, UH is the scene of outbreaks that are impacting a total of nine areas of the facility, including eight units and one office area.
Since Nov. 10, a total of at least 73 patients and 71 staff — 144 combined — have tested positive as a result of outbreaks at the hospital, and at least 14 people have died. The number of staff-linked cases rose by five compared to the day before.
The most recent outbreak to be declared at the hospital occurred on Wednesday in 8IP General Surgery. It’s not clear how many people may be infected in that specific outbreak.
LHSC says the newer outbreak is separate from one declared Dec. 5 in 5IP Cardiology and the cardiology offices on the sixth floor.
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It’s also separate from an outbreak declared Nov. 10 in 4IP General Medicine which has been directly tied to subsequent outbreaks in five other units of the hospital.
The six units hit by that outbreak include 4IP General Medicine, where it originated, along with 4TU Multi-Organ Transplant Unit, 6IP Acute/Decant Medicine, 6IP Cardiovascular Surgery, 9IP Sub-Acute Medicine and 10IP Palliative Care/Sub-Acute Medicine.
LHSC won’t specify how many cases or deaths may be attributed to each impacted unit, citing patient and staff privacy, however at least 110 cases and 12 deaths had been linked to units impacted by the Nov. 10 outbreak as of last Friday.
“All additional outbreak measures have been in place on the General Surgery unit since November 28 and these cases associated with the outbreak are linked to that timeframe,” LHSC officials said of the newest outbreak in a statement Wednesday, referencing the increased measures the hospital implemented in the wake of the Nov. 10 outbreak.
“Unit-level outbreaks for COVID-19 are declared, in partnership with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, as soon as there are two or more confirmed positive cases among patients or staff that could have possibly been acquired on an inpatient unit.”
Non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries remain postponed at the hospital, while ambulatory or outpatient activity remains reduced to only urgent matters.
Previously the hospital experienced a smaller outbreak in 9IP Orthopedics. That outbreak, declared Nov. 11, was tied to six cases and was later declared over.
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A nurse with LHSC has accused the organization of shortchanging its staff by attempting to shift blame to front-line workers after cases emerged among employees, and by failing to properly prepare for a second wave of the virus.
In mid-November, LHSC CEO Dr. Paul Woods admonished staff in an internal memo, citing ongoing issues with staff taking off masks to eat together and failing to practice proper physical distancing.
The following week, six unions representing LHSC workers said Woods’ comments made their membership feel “shamed, blamed, and humiliated, while they are working in the most unfavourable and challenging conditions they have faced in their careers,” according to a report in the London Free Press.
In the case of the Nov. 10 outbreak, the health unit has stated its investigation found breaches when it came to the implementation of personal protective equipment (PPE) among staff and physical distancing protocols.
Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s chief medical officer, told 980 CFPL this week that LHSC brass worked diligently during the first wave and between the first and second waves to secure healthy levels of PPE and to identify additional break spaces to accommodate physical distancing.
Since March, the region has seen at least 59 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including at least 42 at local seniors’ facilities.
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The Thames Valley District School Board reported late Wednesday night that two new cases had been reported at two schools in the city, adding to an already long list of active school cases in the London and Middlesex region.
The two cases were reported at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School and at Sir George Etienne Cartier Public School. It’s unclear if the cases involve staff or students.
The case at Sir Frederick Banting is the third to be seen at the school since Sept. 1. The school saw one case in mid-October and one in early November.
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The two new cases are among at least 28 school cases that were still considered active in the region as of Thursday, according to the health unit and the two main school boards.
Four outbreak declarations, made by the health unit on Wednesday, are also active, located at Ashley Oaks Public School, Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, Sir Arthur Currie Public School, and Westminster Secondary School.
The health unit says at least four cases are active at Ashley Oaks Public School involving at least two students and one staff member, while at least two cases are active at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, both involving students.
At Sir Arthur Currie Public School, meantime, at least four cases are active, all involving students, while at Westminster Secondary School, five cases are active, all involving students.
Despite the outbreak declarations, the health unit says all four schools remain open, with only those staff and students who have been identified as having close contact with those infected being excluded from attending school.
Cases are active at the following schools:
- Five cases are active at Westminster Secondary School. An outbreak declaration is active.
- Four cases are active at Ashley Oaks Public School. An outbreak declaration is active.
- Four cases are active at Sir Arthur Public School. An outbreak declaration is active.
- Two cases are active at London Christian High, a private religious school.
- Two cases are active at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School. An outbreak declaration is active.
- One case is active at C.C. Carrothers Public School.
- One case is active at London Central Secondary School.
- One case is active at Rick Hansen Public School.
- One case is active at Ryerson Public School.
- One case is active at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School.
- One case is active at Sir George Etienne Cartier Public School.
- One case is active at St. John French Immersion Catholic Elementary School.
- One case is active at St Marguerite d’Youville School. An outbreak declaration remains active at the school from Nov. 30.
- One case is active at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School.
- One case is active at Stoney Creek Public School.
- One case is active at Westmount Public School.
The region has seen at least 75 school cases reported since the beginning of September. Twenty-eight of them, or 37 per cent, have been reported just this month.
Recent resolved school cases by date they were reported:
- Nov. 20 at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School involving one student.
- Nov. 21 and 22 at Catholic Central High School involving two students.
- Nov. 23 at Lord Dorchester Secondary School involving one student.
- Nov. 28 at John Paul II Catholic Secondary School involving one student.
- Nov. 28 at St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Elementary School involving one student.
In the post-secondary setting, meanwhile, two student residence outbreaks declared three weeks ago remain active, according to the health unit.
The outbreaks are located at Perth Hall and Saugeen-Maitland Hall, and were declared active on Nov. 21 and Nov. 19, respectively.
At least 10,010 people were tested for the coronavirus during the week of Nov. 29, according to the most recent testing figures issued by the health unit.
The tally was a notable increase from the 8,408 reported the week prior.
The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 2.1 per cent as of the week of Nov. 28, up from 1.7 per cent the week before.
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The city’s two dedicated assessment centres, Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, continue to operate normally, both by appointment only.
Carling Heights has seen a recent uptick in visits, recording an average of 428 visits over five days from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, up from 381 between Nov. 23 and 27.
At Oakridge Arena, numbers have been largely stable. The centre recorded a five-day average of 319 visits from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 compared to 318 between Nov. 23 and 27.
Appointment testing for certain asymptomatic people is also continuing at eight local pharmacies.
Ontario is reporting a record 1,983 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, and 35 new deaths due to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 515 cases are in Peel Region, 496 in Toronto, and 208 in York Region.
In the province’s long-term care homes, 623 residents currently have COVID-19 and 24 new deaths have been reported.
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The province says 118 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.
It also reported 139 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 111 among students.
Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 878 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.
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Ontario health officials say the province’s COVID-19 case counts continue to grow but positivity rates appear to be flattening.
The finding comes in new modelling data released today.
The officials say the virus’ reproduction number is fluctuating around one, which means that Ontario is at a “critical juncture” where case rates may change quickly.
The data also says hospital intensive care unit occupancy will continue to rise above 200 beds for the next month, particularly if public health interventions are relaxed.
The health officials say relaxation of public health interventions will likely lead to even higher case growth.
— With files from The Canadian Press
Elgin and Oxford
Nineteen new cases have been reported along with 13 recoveries, Southwestern Public Health reported Thursday.
It brings the region’s total case tally to 679, of which 577 have recovered. Eight deaths have been reported, most recently on Friday of last week involving a man in his 80s.
Thursday’s case jump is the second time the region has reported 19 cases, which is the highest single-day number so far. Nineteen cases were also reported on Friday.
There are at least 94 cases that are currently active in the region, the health unit says. Of those, at least 28 are in St. Thomas, 16 are in Woodstock, and 14 are in Aylmer.
Since Dec. 1, the Elgin-Oxford region, which currently sits in the orange-restrict tier of the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework, has posted 116 new infections, numbers that the region’s medical officer of health have warned are indicative of a possible move to red-control.
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The number of school cases in the region has risen after the Thames Valley District School Board reported two new cases late Wednesday.
The school board says one case each has been confirmed at New Sarum Public School in St. Thomas and at Summers’ Corners Public School in Aylmer.
It’s not clear if the cases involve staff or students.
Confirmed cases are active at the following schools:
- Two cases at East Elgin Secondary School in Aylmer involving one student and one staff member.
- Two cases at Elgin Court Public School in St. Thomas.
- Two cases at Parkside Collegiate Institute in St. Thomas.
- One student case at Glendale High School in Tillsonburg involving a student.
- One case at New Sarum Public School in St. Thomas.
- One case at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in St. Thomas.
- One case at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Woodstock.
- One case at Summers’ Corners Public School in Aylmer.
The region has seen at least 26 school cases reported since the start of September.
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No new outbreaks have been reported in the region, according to the health unit.
One remains active at Terrace Lodge involving one staff member.
The facility previously saw an outbreak declaration on July 31 after one staff member tested positive.
At least 11 institutional outbreaks have been declared at nine facilities, linked to at least 21 cases, since the pandemic began.
One outbreak-related death has been reported, the health unit says. It was linked to an outbreak on Nov. 12 at Bethany Care Home in Norwich, which saw three resident cases and one staff case.
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Case totals remain highest in Woodstock, which has seen at least 141 since the pandemic began.
Aylmer has the second-highest case total, but since its population is much smaller, it’s impact has been far worse.
The town itself has an incidence rate of 1,855 cases per 100,000 people compared to 233 per 100,000 in St. Thomas.
According to Public Health Ontario, Aylmer’s incidence rate is comparable to the incidence rate reported for the entirety of Peel Region.
The incidence rate for all of Elgin-Oxford, meantime, is 311 per 100,000.
Elsewhere, St. Thomas has seen 91 cases, Bayham has seen 85, Tillsonburg 53, Norwich Township 48, Ingersoll 34, Blandford-Blenheim 18, East Zorra-Tavistock 16, Zorra 13, Dutton/Dunwich and South-West Oxford 11 apiece, and Central Elgin 10.
Three other municipalities have recorded case totals under 10.
As of the week of Nov. 29, the most recent figures available, the region had a test per cent positivity rate of 1.8 per cent, up from 1.3 the week before. About 4,822 people were tested that week.
Huron and Perth
One person has died, six people have tested positive for the coronavirus, and another 19 have recovered, Huron Perth Public Health reported on Thursday.
It brings the region’s total case tally to 416 — an increase of just five from the day before. The health unit said one previously confirmed case had been moved to a different health unit.
At least 362 have recovered and 20 have died.
Health officials said Thursday’s death involved a resident of Cedarcroft Place, a retirement home in Stratford that has now seen at least 12 residents die since an outbreak was declared at the facility in late October.
Previously, one death was reported on Monday.
There are 34 active cases in the region, with three people hospitalized as of Thursday.
Health unit figures show of the six new cases, five are from North Perth while one is from Ashfield–Colborne–Wawanosh.
The health unit reported one case and six recoveries on Wednesday, 18 cases on Tuesday, and one death, 16 cases, and 13 recoveries on Monday.
Huron and Perth remains in the orange-restrict tier of the province’s restrictions framework.
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An outbreak at Cedarcroft Place remained active as of Thursday, with one additional death attributed to it.
The deceased had tested positive for COVID-19 and “was experiencing residual effects following recovery from the COVID-19 infection,” the health unit said.
At least 12 residents have now died since the outbreak was declared Oct. 27. In total, at least 50 residents and 24 staff contracted the virus.
Of those, one resident case remains active and is in hospital, while one staff member case remains active.
The outbreak was declared on Oct. 27 and has been tied to at least 50 resident cases and 24 staff cases.
The outbreak is one of two that are active in the region.
The other outbreak is located at Stratford General Hospital in its medicine unit.
At least seven staff members have tested positive in relation to the outbreak since Dec. 9. The outbreak itself was declared on Dec. 3.
Elsewhere, an outbreak at Seaforth Manor has been declared over as of Thursday, the health unit said, adding its website will reflect the change on Friday.
A total of 17 institutional outbreaks have been declared at 14 facilities in Huron and Perth during the pandemic, linked to 112 cases and 16 deaths, including the 12 at Cedarcroft and four at Greenwood Court in the spring.
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Multiple school cases remain active in the region, according to local school boards.
The Avon Maitland District School Board has reported that one case was confirmed at Avon Public School in Stratford on Dec. 5. No classes have been closed.
It’s not clear if the case is a student or staff member. On the province’s case database, one case is listed as being at the school but is under the “individual(s) not identified” column instead of under the student or staff columns.
At least 11 school cases remain active in the region:
- Six cases at St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School involving five students and one staff member. An outbreak declaration remains active at the school as of Thursday.
- One case at Avon Public School in Stratford.
- One case at Central Huron Secondary School in Clinton.
- One case at F. E. Madill Secondary School in Wingham.
- One student case at Listowel District Secondary School.
- One case at Northside Christian School involving a staff member. An outbreak declaration remained active as of Thursday and the school remains closed as a result.
One case also remains active involving a staff member of the Avon-Maitland District School Board, according to the province.
Including that case, at least 22 school cases have been reported since Sept. 1.
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At least 172 cases have been in Perth County, while 157 cases and at least 16 deaths have been in Stratford.
Elsewhere, 79 cases have been in Huron County, while eight cases and at least one death have been in St. Marys.
Locations for the region’s three other reported deaths were not immediately available.
As of the week of Nov. 29, the most recent figures available, the region’s test per cent positivity rate was 1.6 per cent. At least 3,410 people got tested that week.
Sarnia and Lambton
For the first time since early June, a COVID-19-related death has been reported in Lambton County, officials there reported Thursday.
In addition, the health unit reported six new cases and two recoveries, bringing the region’s case total to 440 with 386 recoveries and 26 deaths.
Details about the deceased were not immediately available.
Twenty-eight cases remain active in the county as of Thursday. No people were reported in hospital at Bluewater Health.
The region remains in the yellow-protect tier of the province’s restrictions framework.
The number of active school cases in the region has dropped after two student cases at Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School in Sarnia were listed as resolved.
As of Thursday, one case remains active in the county, located at St. Patrick’s Catholic High School in Sarnia. The case was reported Tuesday by the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.
At least 11 school cases have been reported in the county.
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Elsewhere, one outbreak remains active in the region, located at an unnamed workplace in an unspecified location. It is linked to at least two cases and was declared on Dec. 3.
A total of 14 have been declared since March — 10 at seniors’ facilities, three at workplaces and one at Bluewater Health — linked to 117 cases and 16 deaths.
A vast majority of cases, and all 16 deaths, are linked to outbreaks earlier in the pandemic at Landmark Village and Vision Nursing Home.
As of the week of Nov. 29, the most recent figures released by the health unit, the region had a weekly test per cent positivity rate of 0.64 per cent. About 2,624 people were tested that week.
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