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The London and Middlesex region once again set a new single-day COVID-19 case record on Friday after the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported 67 new cases — nine more than the previous record set just a day earlier.
At the same time, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) reported one death at Victoria Hospital — the first to be linked to outbreaks declared at the facility earlier this week. Due to reporting lags, however, it won’t be officially reported by the health unit until noon on Saturday.
The region’s total case tally stands at 2,322, of which 1,875 people have recovered, 17 more than the day before.
Including the death reported Friday by LHSC, at least 83 COVID-19-related fatalities have been reported during the pandemic, 17 just this month.
The previous death reported in the region was on Thursday, involving a man in his 80s. His death was tied to outbreaks at University Hospital. Thirteen deaths this month have been tied to that hospital.
Friday marks the seventh time this month that the region has set a new single-day case record — three records have been set just this workweek — and the first time during the pandemic that more than 60 cases have been reported.
The region has recorded at least 257 cases just since Monday, more than were recorded during the months of March, May, June, July, August and September.
December has seen at least 677 cases so far, more than was recorded during any entire month of the pandemic.
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Of the 67 new cases, 57 are from London, five are from Middlesex Centre, three are from Thames Centre, and one is from Lucan Biddulph. One case is pending.
All age brackets tracked by the health unit are impacted by cases, with those aged 19 and under and those in their 30s and 40s appearing most.
Fifteen cases are aged 19 or younger, nine are in their 20s, 13 each are in their 30s and 40s, eight are in their 50s, one is in their 60s, three are in their 70s and five are 80 or older.
Health unit data shows at least 19 cases are due to close contact, while 13 have their exposure source listed as an outbreak. At least 27 cases are still pending an exposure source or are undetermined, while eight have no known link.
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The region is currently in the red-protect level of the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework.
The record-breaking case counts seen this week, and continued outbreaks at the city’s hospitals, are prompting questions about whether additional restrictions may be coming for London and Middlesex.
During Thursday’s COVID-19 media briefing, London Mayor Ed Holder urged Londoners to do their part to reverse course.
“Nobody in London likes where we are right now, nobody in London wants our situation to worsen, and everybody in London wants things to improve as fast as possible,” Holder said Thursday.
“As such, we have only three options: first, we can stay where we are in red and under these current restrictions, or the province can decide to place us into full lockdown, or we can work like hell to turn this around and get back to orange.
“This begins and ends with us. Our biggest risk right now, at least in the short term, are the holiday parties and Christmas gatherings. We simply can’t do it this year. It’s too risky. It’s too dangerous.”
The region’s seven-day average stands at 44.28 as of Friday, while the 14-day average is 40.42.
The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 2.3 per cent as of the week of Dec. 6, up from 2.2 the week prior and 1.7 the week before that.
The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of LHSC has declined for another day, down to 20 from 23 the day before.
The tally stood at 36 on Wednesday and 39 a week ago.
Fewer than five people are currently in critical or intensive care, the organization reported.
While active staff infections declined on Thursday, they rose by two on Friday to 33. It’s a notable decline from the 51 seen last Friday.
Most of the infections have likely been due to outbreaks at University and Victoria hospitals.
Meantime, no COVID-19 patients were reported to be in the care of St. Joseph’s Health Care London as of Friday. Two staff cases are currently active.
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On Friday, the province unveiled that LHSC will be among 17 hospital sites in the province that will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine over the next two weeks.
The news comes a day after LHSC officials unveiled that it plans to transfer a number of its patients to other health partners in the region, and reduce some services, to boost its own capacity ahead of what’s expected to be an imminent surge of COVID-19 patients amid the holidays.
Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s chief medical officer, said Thursday that with admissions reduced at University Hospital due to outbreaks, capacity at Victoria Hospital has been constrained.
“We’ve reached out to regional partners and do anticipate decanting some acute patients to area hospitals in order to help with the capacity challenges at Victoria Hospital,” he said during a media briefing hosted by the health unit.
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The plans to boost capacity were announced two days after Ontario Health requested hospitals in grey lockdown and red control zones be prepared to implement surge capacity plans within two days if needed.
Who and how many patients may be decanted is still being determined. Dukelow said anticipated service reductions would likely be at Victoria Hospital, as University Hospital is already limited to emergent and urgent matters.
One death, the first linked to this week’s outbreaks at Victoria Hospital, has been reported by LHSC, while another outbreak at University Hospital has been resolved.
The Victoria Hospital outbreaks were declared on Dec. 15 and 16 in C5-100 ENT/Burns/Plastics and C6-400 Acute Medicine, respectively, and are not connected to each other.
The outbreaks combined have been tied to fewer than five patient and five staff cases, according to LHSC.
Few other details were made available about the deceased. The death will likely be reported by the health unit in its update Saturday.
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At the same time, for at least the third day in a row, an outbreak at University Hospital (UH) has been declared over.
LHSC announced Friday that an outbreak declared Dec. 11 in the 10th Floor Epilepsy Monitoring Unit had been resolved.
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The organization declared outbreaks over in the 4TU Multi-Organ Transplant Unit and 8IP General Surgery on Thursday and Wednesday, respectively.
The news leaves at least six separate outbreaks active the hospital, declared on:
- Nov. 10 in 4IP General Medicine. (This outbreak later spread to as many as five other units in the hospital, sickening dozens and leaving several dead. As of Friday, related outbreaks remained active in 6IP Acute/Decant Medicine, 9IP Sub-Acute Medicine, and 10IP Palliative Care/Sub-Acute Medicine.)
- Dec. 5 in 5IP Cardiology and the sixth-floor cardiology offices.
In total, as many as 11 separate areas of UH have been hit by outbreaks since Nov. 10, resulting in at least 76 patient cases and 77 staff cases — tallies unchanged from the day before — and 17 deaths, most recently on Thursday.
UH was also the scene of separate outbreaks in 6IP Cardiovascular Surgery (Nov. 27 to Dec. 11) and in 9IP Orthopaedics (Nov. 9 to 27).
Non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures remain postponed at University Hospital, and ambulatory and outpatient activity at University Hospital has been reduced to urgent and emergent matters.
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Elsewhere, health officials say an outbreak declared on Wednesday at Dearness Home has been expanded to include the entire facility.
Previously the outbreak had been reported in the 3 East and 3 West areas.
Outbreaks are also still active at Chelsey Park (2nd floor of long-term care), Country Terrace (Woodcrest area) and McCormick Home (Evergreen Walk).
Since March, the region has seen at least 64 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including at least 44 at local seniors’ facilities.
Outbreaks at seniors’ facilities alone have been linked to 129 resident cases, 129 staff cases and 41 deaths.
At least three new school cases were reported in London and Middlesex late Thursday by the Thames Valley District School Board.
One case is located at A.B. Lucas Secondary School, one case is at Saunders Secondary School and one case is at Wilton Grove Public School.
There are at least 32 active cases tied to 24 schools in London and Middlesex as of Friday, the health unit says.
A full list can be found on the health unit’s website.
Outbreak declarations also remain active at six schools: Ashley Oaks Public School, Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, Sir Arthur Currie Public School, St. Marguerite D’Youville Secondary School, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School and Westminster Secondary School.
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In the post-secondary setting, two student residence outbreaks also remain active at Western University. The outbreaks, declared in Perth and Saugeen-Maitland halls, were declared Nov. 21 and Nov. 19, respectively.
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The Thames Valley District School Board said Thursday it was encouraging students and staff to take home any materials they may require for remote learning.
The message echoed that from Ontario’s education minister and deputy minister on Wednesday, encouraging students and educators across the province to be prepared and bring home anything they might need should there be a need to shift to remote learning due to rising coronavirus cases.
At this time, there has been no direction to close schools in the London region after the winter break. A decision to close schools and move to remote learning would be made by the Ministry of Education or local public health units.
Recent resolved school cases by date they were reported:
- Dec. 6 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School.
- Dec. 6 at Westmount Public School.
- Dec. 7 and 8 at Westminster Secondary School.
- Dec. 8 at Rick Hansen Public School.
- Dec. 8 at Sir Arthur Currie Public School.
- Dec. 9 at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School.
- Dec. 9 at Sir George Etienne Cartier Public School.
- Dec. 13 at C.C. Carrothers Public School.
The health unit says at least 115,000 people have been swabbed since April at the city’s two dedicated assessment centres, both of which are continuing to operate by appointment only.
As of Thursday, both centres were booked full until at least Monday, according to the online booking system.
“I know they’re all working as hard as they can. Health and human resources are a major challenge right now in terms of the number of people that are required for operations across the health-care system,” Dr. Chris Mackie said on Thursday.
“That’s why you’re seeing that crunch there. And unfortunately, the timing isn’t great from the perspective of where we’re at in our case counts right now.”
The Thames Valley Family Health Team, which is operating the centres alongside London Health Sciences Centre, announced holiday hours for the centres this week.
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At least 10,435 people were tested for the coronavirus during the week of Dec. 6.
The tally is slightly down from the final tally of 10,767 reported the week prior, but up from the 8,408 reported the week of Nov. 22.
Carling Heights reported an average of 445 visits between Dec. 7 and 11, up from 428 the workweek prior, health unit figures show.
At Oakridge Arena, an average of 329 visits were reported from Dec. 7 to 11, up from 319 visits from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.
Appointment testing for certain asymptomatic people is also continuing at eight local pharmacies.
Ontario reported 2,290 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and 40 new deaths.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 691 new cases in Toronto, 361 in Peel Region, 296 in York Region, 207 in Windsor-Essex and 126 in Hamilton.
Toronto, Peel and York regions, and Windsor-Essex are currently in the lockdown category of the province’s pandemic framework. The lockdowns in Toronto and Peel are currently set to lift next week.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has said the province’s COVID-19 caseload is headed in the wrong direction and he’s made new recommendations for Ford’s cabinet to consider.
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The province said Friday that 877 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 261 in intensive care. Of those, 168 people are on ventilators.
In the province’s long-term care homes, 757 residents currently have COVID-19 and 11 new deaths were reported Friday.
The province said 139 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.
It also reported 133 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 111 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 957 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.
Elgin and Oxford
Thirty people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another 19 have recovered, Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) reported.
It’s the second day in a row that the region has reported a single-day case jump above 30. A record 33 cases were reported on Thursday.
As of Friday, the region’s total case tally stands at 863, of which 692 people have recovered. At least 11 deaths have been reported, five this month, including the most recent death on Thursday involving a man in his 70s from Elgin County.
Health unit data shows five cases each were reported Friday in Aylmer and Norwich, while four each were in St. Thomas and Tillsonburg, three in Ingersoll and two each in Bayham, Blandford-Blenheim, Central Elgin and East Zorra-Tavistock.
As of Friday, at least 160 cases were active in Elgin and Oxford. Of those, at least 27 each are in Aylmer and St. Thomas, while 24 are in Norwich, 18 in Tillsonburg and 16 in Bayham.
Elgin and Oxford remains in the orange-restrict tier of the province’s restrictions framework.
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At least one new school case was reported in the region Friday, located at Roch Carrier French Immersion Public School in Woodstock.
It’s among at least 14 cases that remain active in the region.
- Three cases at East Elgin Secondary School in Aylmer.
- Two cases at Davenport Public School in Aylmer.
- Two cases at Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock.
- One case at New Sarum Public School in St. Thomas.
- One case at Roch Carrier French Immersion Public School in Woodstock.
- One case at South Ridge Public School in Tillsonburg.
- One case at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Woodstock.
- One case at Summers’ Corners Public School in Aylmer.
- One case at Tavistock Public School.
- One case at Westfield Public School in Tillsonburg.
The region has seen at least 37 school cases reported since the start of September.
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One new institutional outbreak has been declared in the region, while one outbreak has been resolved.
The new outbreak is located at Seasons Retirement Home, according to the health unit, and is tied to one staff case.
The resolved outbreak was located at Terrace Lodge involving one staff case.
Four other outbreaks remain active as of Friday.
One, declared Wednesday at PeopleCare Tavistock, is linked to two staff cases, while one declared on Dec. 13 at Woodingford Lodge in Tillsonburg is linked to one staff case.
Elsewhere, an outbreak declared on Dec. 12 at Maple Manor Nursing Home is tied to one resident and one staff case, while an outbreak at Bethany Care Home in Norwich from Dec. 10 is tied to two staff cases.
At least 15 institutional outbreaks have been declared at 13 facilities since March.
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By location, Aylmer remains the hardest-hit municipality in the region, both by total number of cases and by number of cases per 100,000 people.
At least 168 cases have been reported in the town so far, resulting in an incidence rate of 2,242 cases per 100,000 people.
In comparison, Woodstock, which has the second-highest case total – 159 – has an incidence rate of 388.
Elsewhere, 124 cases have been reported in St. Thomas, 105 in Bayham, 78 in Norwich, 71 in Tillsonburg, 42 in Ingersoll, 27 in Blandford-Blenheim, 24 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 15 in Zorra, 13 in Central Elgin, 12 in South-West Oxford and 11 in Dutton/Dunwich.
Three other municipalities have recorded case totals under 10.
The region had a test per cent positivity rate of 2.4 per cent as of the week of Dec. 6, up from 1.8 the week before and 1.3 the week before that. At least 4,800 people were tested the week of Dec. 6, roughly the same as the week before.
Huron and Perth
Six people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another 15 have recovered, Huron Perth Public Health reported Friday.
The update brings the region’s total case tally to 505, of which 423 people have recovered. At least 20 people have died, most recently on Dec. 10 involving a resident of Cedarcroft Place in Stratford.
The health unit says three of Friday’s cases are from Perth East, while two are from North Perth and one from South Huron.
As of Friday, 62 cases are active in the region. Four are health-care workers.
At least three people are currently in hospital. Twenty-four in total have been admitted to hospital during the pandemic.
The region remains in the orange-restrict tier of the province’s COVID-19 framework.
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For a second day, no new school cases were reported by either the Avon-Maitland District School Board or by the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.
At least eight cases are currently active at schools in the region:
- Five cases at Listowel District Secondary School.
- One case at F. E. Madill Secondary School in Wingham.
- One case at Mornington Central Public School.
- One case at North Perth Westfield Elementary School.
An outbreak declaration has also resolved at St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in Listowel after at least six cases were reported in late November and early December.
At least 29 school cases have been reported in the region since Sept. 1.
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No new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none have resolved, the health unit says.
Outbreaks remain in place at Cedarcroft Place, a retirement home in Stratford, at Listowel Memorial Hospital, and at Stratford General Hospital.
The outbreak at Cedarcroft Place is tied to at least 50 resident cases and 24 staff cases. Twelve residents have since died. No new cases have been reported at the facility since Dec. 7, and no cases are currently active there.
At Listowel Memorial Hospital, at least three patients and seven staff have tested positive due to an outbreak on the second floor medicine unit. The number of cases has not changed from the day before.
The outbreak at Stratford General Hospital, meantime, appears to be under control, the health unit says. It’s tied to seven cases, a tally that has not changed since at least Dec. 10.
At least 18 institutional outbreaks have been declared at 15 facilities since March, linked to 123 cases and at least 16 deaths — 12 at Cedarcroft and four at Greenwood Court in the spring.
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At least 224 cases have been in Perth County — with at least 103 in North Perth and 98 in Perth East — while 167 cases and at least 16 deaths have been in Stratford.
Elsewhere, 106 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 Dec. 6, the region’s test per cent positivity rate was 1.2 per cent, down from 1.6 the week before.
Sarnia and Lambton
Seven people have tested positive for the coronavirus, while two have recovered, Lambton Public Health reported Friday.
The region’s total case tally now stands at 477, of which 411 people have recovered. Twenty-seven deaths have also been reported, most recently on Wednesday.
At least 39 cases are currently active in the county, their locations not made public by the health unit.
At least three people were in hospital, according to Bluewater Health — one fewer than the day before.
The region remains in the yellow-protect tier of the province’s restrictions framework.
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An outbreak at an unnamed workplace in the county has resolved, the health unit says. The outbreak was tied to two cases and was reported on Dec. 3.
Three other outbreaks, all at unidentified workplaces, remain active in the county.
One, declared Dec. 11, is tied to seven cases, while two, both reported on Dec. 16, are tied to two and three cases each.
A total of 17 outbreaks have been declared since March — 10 at seniors’ facilities, six at workplaces and one at Bluewater Health — linked to 126 cases and 16 deaths.
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No new school cases have been reported in the county, according to the local school boards.
There is one active school case in the county, located at St. Patrick’s Catholic High School.
At least 12 school cases have been reported in the county since the start of the school year.
According to the health unit’s broad case map, at least 28,600 cases have been reported in Central Sarnia and Point Edward, while 27,650 have been reported in a region encompassing Petrolia, Enniskillen, Brooke-Alvinston, Oil Springs, Dawn-Euphemia and St. Clair.
Elsewhere, 24,486 have been reported in South Sarnia, 23,129 in North Sarnia and Bright’s Grove, and 21,181 in a region encompassing Lambton Shores, Plympton-Wyoming, Warwick, and Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.
As of the week of Dec. 6, the region had a weekly test per cent positivity rate of 0.86 per cent, up from 0.64 the week before.
–– With files from Andrew Graham, Jake Jeffery and The Canadian Press
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