Coronavirus: Record 119 cases in London-Middlesex; December saw more cases than rest of pandemic – London

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The London and Middlesex region brought 2020 to a close on Thursday with a new single-day coronavirus case record after local health officials reported 119 new cases — 19 more than the previous record set just on Tuesday.

The region also capped off a month that recorded more cases than every other month of the pandemic combined along with at least three-dozen COVID-19-related deaths, and set at least 11 new single-day case records — staggering numbers that come as health officials continue to brace for a post-holiday case deluge.

Thursday’s year-end update brings the region’s overall case total to 3,314, of which 2,518 people have recovered — 54 more than the day before — and 102 have died. The most recent deaths were reported on Wednesday involving a man 80 or older who was linked to a long-term care home, and a woman 80 or older who was not associated with a seniors’ facility.

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According to the health unit, the month of December has accounted for roughly half of all cases reported so far in the region with at least 1,675, compared to the 1,648 that were confirmed between the city’s first case on Jan. 24 and the end of November.

The region has reported nearly 400 cases just since Monday.

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Of the 119 new cases Thursday, at least 94 are from London. Six each are from Middlesex Centre and Strathroy-Caradoc, while five are from Thames Centre, three are from Southwest Middlesex and one is from Lucan Biddulph. Three cases are pending a location.

All age brackets tracked by the health unit are impacted; however, unlike on Wednesday, where cases were relatively spread out, people under 40 account for roughly 60 per cent of the new cases.

At least 22 cases involve people 19 or younger, while 32 involve people in their 20s, 17 involve people in their 30s, 14 each involve people in their 40s and 50s, 12 involve people in their 60s and four each involve people in their 70s and people 80 or older.

As has been the case in recent weeks, nearly all cases, 106, are still pending an exposure source. At least 11 are confirmed to be due to an outbreak, while two are due to contact with a confirmed case.

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During Tuesday’s media briefing, local health officials stressed that the need to continue physically distancing was paramount heading into 2021.

“The incident rates that we have seen here locally have skyrocketed over the course of four to six weeks. This is consistent with what is being seen in other parts of the province. But what we know is that without intensive distancing efforts by all who are able to do so, we will not be able to slow the rapid acceleration that we are seeing,” said Dr. Alex Summers, the region’s associate medical officer of health.

“The safest way to celebrate is to do so with those with whom you live. And if reaching out to those who you don’t live with, that you’re doing so virtually, and that if any interaction is to happen, it is outdoors,” he said of New Year’s Eve.

No indoor interactions with anybody who is not within your household can be permitted this New Year’s. Additionally, if there is an outdoor gathering, provincial restrictions are very clear. It cannot be larger than 10 people, and I would advise keeping that as small as possible.”

Summers added that the best way to celebrate the arrival of the new year is to think about how things will look when 2022 is on our doorstep.

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“That will require us coming together by staying apart, anticipating the arrival of the vaccine, and remembering what has allowed for us to make it this far through this pandemic, which is keeping our distance,” he said.

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The region’s seven-day average stands at 80.28 as of Thursday, up from 71.7 on Wednesday. The 14-day average is 75.78, compared to 71.3 the day before.

The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 3.3 per cent as of the week of Dec. 20, about the same as the week before and up from 2.4 two weeks earlier.

An outbreak remains active at Maple Ridge on the Parc, where at least 46 cases have been confirmed recently.

It’s unclear if any of Thursday’s cases are linked to the building, located at 112 and 114 Arbor Glen Cres. None of the 92 cases reported on Wednesday were the result of the outbreak.


The number of COVID-19 inpatients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre rose by one on Thursday to 39.

It follows an 11-patient jump reported the day before.

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The organization says 10 patients are currently in critical or intensive care, a tally unchanged from Wednesday.

Active staff cases also rose by one from the day before to 20, according to LHSC.

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No COVID-19 inpatients were reported in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital. However, St. Joseph’s Health Care London said cases are active at its other facilities.

Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care has seen at least 17 patient/resident cases due to ongoing outbreaks there, an increase of four from the day before.

One case is also active at Parkwood Institute Mental Health Care, not linked to an outbreak.

At the same time, the number of staff cases within St. Joseph’s Health Care London has increased.

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The organization says there are 10 outbreak-related staff cases — one more than Wednesday — and three non-outbreak staff cases — two more than Wednesday.

The health unit says at least 273 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 this year, with at least 53 needing intensive care.

Institutional outbreaks

One outbreak at Victoria Hospital has been declared over, however a new outbreak has been declared there.

Officials with London Health Sciences Centre say an outbreak declared on Dec. 15 in C5-100 ENT/Burns/Plastics was declared over as of Thursday.

The outbreak was tied to fewer than five patient cases and fewer than five staff cases. No deaths had been reported.

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At the same time, however, the organization reported a new outbreak had been declared at the hospital in D5-300 Medicine.

LHSC says fewer than five patient cases and fewer than five staff cases have been reported due to the outbreak, and no deaths have been reported.

Elsewhere within LHSC, all outbreaks at University Hospital were declared over earlier this week. As many as 13 individual outbreaks had been declared at the hospital since Nov. 10, with at least five linked to the outbreak in 4IP General Medicine.

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Overall, the UH outbreaks were associated with at least 174 cases — 92 involving staff and 82 involving patients — and 23 deaths.

In addition to the new outbreak at Victoria Hospital, at least 12 other institutional outbreaks are active at seniors’ facilities in the region:

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  • Country Terrace (Woodcrest)
  • Dearness Home (Facility)
  • McGarrell Place (Facility)
  • Westmount Gardens (Apple Blossom)
  • Peoplecare Oak Crossing (Juniper, Sugar Maple, White Pine, Norway Spruce)
  • Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term care (SM1, SM2, SM3, MV4)
  • Glendale Crossing (Westminster, Byron, Pondmills)
  • Middlesex Terrace (Facility)
  • Oakcrossing Retirement Living (second floor)
  • Extendicare (third floor)
  • Earls Court Village (third floor).

According to St. Joseph’s Health Care London, at least 17 patient/resident cases and 10 staff cases have been reported as a result of the outbreak at Mount Hope. Similar numbers for other facilities were not readily available.

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Since March, the region has seen at least 76 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including at least 54 at local seniors’ facilities.

The health unit says seniors’ home outbreaks alone have been tied to 169 staff cases, 156 resident cases and at least 49 deaths.


At least three new school cases have been reported.

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The Thames Valley District School Board reported late Wednesday that a case had been confirmed at A.B. Lucas Secondary School. An outbreak declaration, made Dec. 22, remains in place at the school, according to the health unit.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported that a new case had also been reported at École élémentaire catholique Monseigneur-Bruyère and at London Islamic School.

An outbreak declaration also remains in place for École élémentaire catholique Monseigneur-Bruyère. At least four cases have been reported there since Dec. 21.

No new cases were reported by the London District Catholic School Board, which also says there are no active cases at its schools.

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The health unit says there are currently nine active school cases in the region as of Thursday. A full list can be found on the health unit’s website.

Outbreak declarations remain active for Covenant Christian School, École élémentaire catholique Monseigneur-Bruyère, A.B. Lucas Secondary School and John Pail II Catholic Secondary School.

In all, health officials say 167 cases have been reported at local schools this school year.

Elsewhere, two cases are active in child-care settings. One case each is active at Wee Watch Licensed Home Child Care London and Wilfrid Jury Childcare Centre – Whitehills Childcare Association.

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Recent resolved school cases by date they were reported:

  • Dec. 21 at École élémentaire catholique Monseigneur-Bruyère, and White Oaks Public School (two cases).
  • Dec. 22 at A.B. Lucas Secondary School (two cases), École élémentaire catholique Monseigneur-Bruyère, Lord Dorchester Secondary School, Oakridge Secondary School, Regina Mundi Catholic College, Rick Hansen Public School (two cases), Saunders Secondary School, Blessed Sacrament Catholic School.
  • Dec. 23 at Glen Cairn Public School, Montcalm Secondary School (two cases), Catholic Central High School (two cases), St. Michael Catholic Elementary School.
  • Dec. 24 at London Central Secondary School.
  • Dec. 25 at A.B. Lucas Secondary School and Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School.
  • Dec. 26 at A.B. Lucas Secondary School and Nicholas Wilson Public School.
  • Dec. 27 at H.B. Beal Secondary School and White Oaks Public School.
  • Dec. 28 at Glen Cairn Public School.

Vaccinations and testing

Local administration of the coronavirus vaccine began on Dec. 23 at the Western Fair District Agriplex.

According to LHSC officials, who are collaborating with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, Huron Perth Public Health and Southwestern Public Health, some four to five dozen hospital and health unit staff members are at the scene operating the clinic on a daily basis.

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According to Dr. Adam Dukelow, chief medical officer with LHSC, it’s anticipated that vaccinations will continue through the weekend at a rate of approximately 420 per day, increasing to 500 per day as of Monday.

“The biggest limitation on how many get vaccinated in the coming weeks will be the amount of vaccine we receive,” he said on Tuesday.

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Those receiving the vaccine are primary health-care workers from long-term care homes and some LHSC members who have worked in outbreak units.

Visitations to the city’s two COVID-19 assessment centres have remained steady over the last several weeks, with dips reported over the holidays.

Carling Heights recorded 188 visits on Christmas, 279 on Boxing Day and between 420 and 550 per day from Dec. 27 and 30.

Oakridge Arena reported between 213 and 316 visits per day between Dec. 21 and 24.

Overall, the centres have seen more than 129,000 clients and swabbed over 123,000.

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Both centres are continuing to operate by appointment only, however appointment slots have been consistently full recently.

Appointment testing for certain asymptomatic people is also continuing at eight local pharmacies.

The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 3.3 per cent as of the week of Dec. 20, about the same as the week before and up from 2.4 two weeks earlier.

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Ontario is reporting 3,328 new COVID-19 cases Thursday — a new daily record — and 56 deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 888 new cases in Toronto, 431 in Peel Region and 418 in York Region.

She also says there are 257 new cases in Windsor-Essex County and 194 in Ottawa.

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Elliott says nearly 63,900 tests have been completed since the last daily update.

Meantime, the province’s finance minister has resigned after returning from a controversial Caribbean vacation on Thursday.

Rod Phillips arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport Thursday morning after taking a holiday in St. Barts despite provincial guidelines urging people to avoid non-essential travel.

Premier Doug Ford released a statement hours later saying he had accepted Phillips’ resignation.

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Phillips had been in St. Barts since Dec. 13 and will quarantine in Ajax, Ont., for 14 days starting Thursday.

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Ford said Wednesday he wasn’t told about the trip ahead of time, but did learn about it shortly after it began, and should have demanded Phillips return immediately.

— With files from The Canadian Press

One death and a record 71 new cases were reported on Thursday by officials with Southwestern Public Health (SWPH), who are sounding the alarm about new modelling projections that show the region could see 100 daily cases or more in early January.

The update brings the region’s overall case tally to 1,286, of which 978 people have recovered — 38 more than the day before — and 13 have died.

The death involved a man in his 90s from Oxford County, according to the health unit. It’s the seventh reported in the region since the start of the month.

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The region has recorded at least 723 cases since Dec. 1. Thursday’s increase easily surpasses the previous record of 47 set on Dec. 23.

“Once we start to see daily increases approaching 100 per day, it becomes very difficult to conduct contact tracing within 24 hours to contain the virus,” Dr. Joyce Lock, the region’s medical officer of health, said in a statement about the new projections.

“Our team is working at maximum capacity, our local health care system is strained, and we are urgently asking for your support to modify behaviours to stop the spread.”

The health unit says the most recent test per cent positivity rate seen in the region of 3.5 per cent is above the critical 3.0 per cent threshold that determines whether an area is at risk of being overwhelmed by cases.

Of the 71 cases reported Thursday, 19 were reported in St. Thomas, while 12 were from Tillsonburg, 11 from East Zorra and 10 from Aylmer. Elsewhere, seven cases were reported in Woodstock, four in Norwich, three in Southwold, two in Central Elgin and one each in Blandford-Blenheim, West Elgin and Zorra.

As of Thursday, 295 cases are active in the region, with at least 67 in Tillsonburg, 58 in St. Thomas, 55 in Aylmer, 33 in East Zorra-Tavistock and 31 in Woodstock.

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At least two school cases were reported in the region late Wednesday.

The Thames Valley District School Board reported one case each at Davenport Public School in Aylmer and at Glendale High School in Tillsonburg.

At least nine school cases are currently active at:

  • Davenport Public School
  • East Elgin Secondary School
  • Eva Circe Cote French Immersion Public School
  • Glendale High School
  • John Wise Public School
  • June Rose Callwood Public School
  • Kettle Creek Public School
  • Locke’s Public School
  • Mitchell Hepburn Public School

Meantime, no new institutional outbreaks have been declared in the region,

Outbreaks remain active at PeopleCare Tavistock, where 32 resident cases and 18 staff cases have been reported, and at Maple Manor Nursing Home, where 31 resident cases, 20 staff cases and one death have been reported.

Elsewhere, outbreaks are also active at Elgin Manor (two resident cases), Seasons Retirement Home (two staff cases), Bethany Care Home in Norwich (three staff cases), Terrace Lodge (five staff cases) and Chartwell Aylmer (Three staff cases).

At least 19 outbreaks have been declared in the region at 14 separate facilities.

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Aylmer remains the hardest-hit area in its jurisdiction, both by overall cases and by cases per 100,000 people.

At least 251 cases have been reported in the town, resulting in an incidence rate of 3,350.2 per 100,000 people, higher than the incidence rate for all of Peel Region in the GTA.

St. Thomas, which has seen 211 cases, has an incidence rate of 542.3 per 100,000 people, while Woodstock, with 201 cases, has an incidence rate of 491.4.

Elsewhere, Tillsonburg has seen 147 cases, while Bayham has reported 122, Norwich 104, East Zorra-Tavistock 62, Ingersoll 50, Blandford-Blenheim 40, Zorra 23, Central Elgin 20, South-West Oxford 17, Southwold 12, Dutton/Dunwich 11, West Elgin 11 and Malahide three.

The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 3.5 per cent as of the week of Dec. 20, up from 3.3 the week before and 2.5 the week before that.

Seventeen people have tested positive for the coronavirus, while another 17 have recovered, Huron Perth Public Health reported on Thursday.

The region’s overall case tally now stands at 676, of which 572 people have recovered and 22 have died.

The most recent death was reported on Wednesday and involved a resident from Exeter Villa Long-Term Care Home who had previously tested positive for COVID-19, officials with the facility said. An outbreak declaration remains active at the home.

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Of the 17 new cases, the health unit says 10 are from South Huron, five are from North Perth, and one each are from North Huron and St. Marys.

As of Thursday, at least 82 cases remain active in the region as a whole, with the largest number, 26, located in North Perth. Elsewhere, 16 cases are active in South Huron and 13 in Stratford.

At least three active cases are in hospital. At least 15 of the region’s active cases involve health-care workers.

At least 271 cases and four deaths have been reported since Dec. 1.

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No new institutional outbreaks have been reported, but an outbreak at Exeter Villa continues to worsen, according to health unit figures.

The number of resident cases in the facility’s long-term care home has risen by nine to 14, while the number of staff cases has risen by five to six compared to the day before, according to health unit figures. At least one resident has since died, reported on Wednesday.

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The outbreak was declared at the facility’s long-term care home on Dec. 18. An outbreak was later declared in its retirement home on Dec. 21, linked to one resident case.

At least eight institutional outbreaks are currently active, including five at long-term care homes, two at retirement homes and one in a hospital.

Outbreaks are active at the following long-term care and retirement homes:

  • Braemar Retirement Centre in North Huron (Dec. 26 – one staff case)
  • Caressant Care in North Perth (Dec. 25 – one staff case)
  • Exeter Villa Retirement Home in South Huron (Dec. 21 – one resident case)
  • Exeter Villa Long-Term Care in South Huron (Dec. 18 – 14 resident cases and six staff case)
  • Hillside Manor (Dec. 22 – one staff case)
  • Knollcrest Lodge in Perth East (Dec. 17 – two staff cases).
  • Cedarcroft Place in Stratford (Oct. 27 – 50 residents and 24 staff, 12 deaths). According to the health unit, no cases are currently active at Cedarcroft Place.

An outbreak also remains active at Listowel Memorial Hospital, with five patient and nine staff cases reported, unchanged from the day before.

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No new school cases were reported by either the Avon-Maitland District School Board or the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.

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The most recent school cases were reported on Tuesday, with one case at North Perth Westfield Elementary School and two at Stratford District Secondary School.

At least seven school cases are currently active, located at:

  • F.E. Madill Secondary School
  • Listowel District Secondary School
  • North Perth Westfield Elementary School (two cases)
  • Stratford District Secondary School (two cases)
  • Upper Thames Elementary School.

At least 308 cases have been in Perth County — with at least 162 in North Perth and 111 in Perth East — while 187 cases have been in Stratford.

Elsewhere, 170 cases have been in Huron County, while 11 cases have been in St. Marys.

As of the week of Dec. 6, the region’s test per cent positivity rate was 2.3 per cent, up from 1.6 the week before. At least 3,464 people were tested that week, down from roughly 4,200 the week before.

Twenty-three people have tested positive for the coronavirus, while another 32 have recovered, Lambton Public Health reported on Thursday.

The update brings the region’s total case tally to 755, of which 570 people have recovered and 28 have died. The most recent death was reported on Dec. 19.

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As of Thursday, 157 cases are active in the region. It’s unclear where the cases are located as such information is not released by the health unit.

The region has reported at least 343 cases and three deaths since Dec. 1, according to health unit figures. The region recorded a single-day case record of 48 on Dec. 26.

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One new workplace outbreak has been declared by the health unit.

The name and location of the workplace have not been released.

At the same time, the health unit says one other workplace outbreak has been declared over, keeping the number of currently active outbreaks at 15. The outbreaks are linked to at least 40 cases.

Of those, at least two outbreaks are at seniors’ facilities and two are in schools.

At seniors’ facilities, Trillium Villa declared an outbreak on Dec. 19 and has reported two staff cases, while Vision Nursing Home declared an outbreak on Dec. 27, linked to one resident case.

The outbreak at Vision is the second to be seen at the facility during the pandemic. A deadly outbreak there from April 23 to June 18 resulted in 26 patient cases, 10 resident deaths and 28 staff cases.

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Meantime, outbreaks are active at two Sarnia schools: Confederation Central School (declared Dec. 29) and Great Lakes Secondary School (declared Dec. 26). The outbreaks are tied to two cases each.

It’s unclear if any other new school cases have been reported or resolved as both the Lambton Kent District School Board and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board have paused public reporting of cases until after the holidays.

At least 71,035 people had been tested in the county as of Dec. 26, the most recent figures available.

The region’s test per cent positivity rate was 3.30 that week, a notable increase from the 0.86 per cent reported for the week of Dec. 6.

The health unit says 3,142 people were tested from Dec. 20 to 26.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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