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Two more people have died and 128 others have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported on Saturday, continuing a disturbing surge in cases in recent weeks that has local health officials sounding the alarm and urging people to follow lockdown restrictions and public health guidance.
As of Saturday, the region’s total case tally stands at 4,254, of which 2,999 people have recovered — an increase of 41 from the day before — and 121 have died. At least 1,134 cases are currently active in the region.
According to health officials, the two deaths reported Saturday involve a man in his 50s who was not associated with a seniors’ facility, and a woman in her 90s who was associated with a long-term care home.
The deaths are the 18th and 19th to be reported so far this month. The number of deaths so far in January is already about half the number seen during the entire month of December.
The region has reported at least 883 cases since the start of January — comparatively, December reported 230 cases in its first seven days. The number of cases reported so far in this month is higher than every other month of the pandemic, except December which saw 1,724 cases with a notable surge in the latter half of the month.
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Of the 128 new cases reported Saturday, 94 are from London, while seven are from Middlesex Centre, 13 are from Strathroy-Caradoc, three are from Lucan Biddulph, and Thames Centre and North Middlesex each have one. Four of the new cases are listed as pending.
Although Saturday’s number of cases is nowhere near the record 160 reported Tuesday, it’s still roughly two and a half times the number of cases the region saw on the same day one month ago.
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During Thursday’s media briefing, Dr. Alex Summers, associate medical officer of health for London and Middlesex, highlighted how quickly local case numbers have exploded by comparing the time it’s taken for the region to record 1,000 additional cases.
The first thousand took 262 days, from Jan. 24 to Oct. 11, 2020. The second thousand took 60 days, from Oct. 12 to Dec. 10. The third thousand took 18 days, from Dec. 11 to Dec. 28.
It took just nine days for the region to record its fourth thousand, from Dec. 29, 2020 to Jan. 6, 2021.
“We continue to see outbreaks in all sectors, including long-term care homes. We continue to see outbreaks in workplaces. The transmission continues in our community,” Summers said.
“COVID is here. And the importance of adhering to the public health guidance and recommendations and restrictions that are in place remains as important as it was as when we started this journey in February and January of 2020.”
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The region’s seven-day case average stands at 108.14 on Friday, compared to 97.0 on Monday. The seven-day average was 80.28 as of Dec. 31.
The 14-day average, meantime, stands at 95.42 compared to 89.64 on Monday and 75.78 as of Dec. 31.
The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 5.3 per cent as of last week, up from 3.7 the week before, health unit figures released Wednesday show. Roughly 9,738 people were tested last week, down from 11,188 the week before.
The region’s cumulative incidence rate is 813.2 per 100,000 people, compared to Ontario’s 1,373.
Middlesex Centre has been the locale hardest hit by the pandemic, according to health unit figures. Despite posting just 175 cases in total since the pandemic began, the municipality’s incidence rate is equivalent to 950.5 per 100,000 due to its smaller population.
In comparison, London, which has seen 3,787 cases, has an incidence rate of 912.5.
Elsewhere, Strathroy-Caradoc has posted 118 cases, Thames Centre 75, Lucan Biddulph 27, Southwest Middlesex 20, North Middlesex 19, Adelaide Metcalfe six and Newbury two. Twenty cases are pending a location.
The number of active COVID-19 inpatients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre stayed the same at 40.
The number of people in critical or intensive care due to COVID-19 also fell by one to 11.
At the same time active staff cases at LHSC have also stayed the same at 32, the organization said.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meantime, no COVID-19 inpatients were reported to be in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital, but staff cases within the organization as a whole rose by five to a total of 18.
The four of the new staff case appear to be linked to an ongoing outbreak at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care, which has infected at least 22 residents and 12 staff members and left two dead.
According to the health unit, at least 301 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 58 who have needed intensive care. That’s an increase of four from the day before, including one more case linked to the ICU.
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Earlier this week, LHSC’s chief medical officer, Dr. Adam Dukelow, told 980 CFPL that increased pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in some surgery cancellations. How many isn’t clear.
Nine out of 15 operating rooms at University Hospital and 14 out of 19 operating rooms at Victoria Hospital are in operation, Dukelow said Wednesday, adding that some operating rooms had been converted to allow for ambulatory surgeries that don’t require an overnight stay.
A report from CBC London found that LHSC’s VP of clinical programs, Julie Trpkovski, told surgical teams across the organization on Monday that the move to shutter some operating rooms came as a result of a rise in cases and outbreaks locally, as well as capacity challenges and staff shortages.
A day later, it was reported that, as of Jan. 5, Trpkovski was no longer with the organization.
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“We thank Julie for her service and wish her all the best in her future endeavours,” an LHSC spokesperson said via email.
When pressed for further detail as to whether Trpkovski resigned or was let go, the spokesperson replied, “we have no further comment.”
A request for comment from Trpkovski through her personal Facebook page was not returned.
LHSC is also dealing with fallout after it was revealed Friday that the organization’s president and CEO, Dr. Paul Woods, travelled to the United States five times since March 2020 to visit immediate family, despite government guidance to avoid non-essential travel.
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Before the holiday season, LHSC warned that an expected case deluge in the new year would make it difficult to ramp back up to typical surgery volumes.
Two new institutional outbreaks have been declared at Chelsey Park Retirement Community and Strathmere Lodge.
The outbreaks were both declared Jan 8. with the one on the 5th floor of Chelsey Park Retirement Community listed separately from the outbreak declared on Jan. 2 at Chelsey Park long Term Care which is on the 5th and 2nd floors. The one at Strathmere Lodge is in the Syndham Meadows section.
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Three outbreaks remain ongoing at Victoria Hospital, located at B41 Antenatal, D5-300 and D7-200.
According to LHSC, fewer than five patients and five staff cases have been reported in connection to each unit, and no deaths have been reported.
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Elsewhere, seven other outbreaks remain active at the following facilities, declared on:
- Jan. 5 at Oneida Long Term Care Home (facility)
- Jan. 2 at Chelsey Park (long-term care – fifth floor, second floor)
- Dec. 26 at Earls Court Village (third floor)
- Dec. 26 at Extendicare (second and third floors)
- Dec. 26 at Oakcrossing Retirement Living (second floor)
- Dec. 23 at Middlesex Terrace (facility)
- Dec. 22 at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care (SM1, MV4. MV5. Outbreaks in SM2 and SM3 were resolved Jan. 6)
Since March, the region has seen at least 82 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including at least 56 at local seniors’ facilities.
Seniors’ facility outbreaks alone are tied to at least 255 resident and 245 staff cases and 55 deaths.
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No new school cases have been reported in the region as of Saturday and no cases are currently active, according to the health unit.
At least 173 cases have been reported since the start of September that have been tied to schools or child-care centres, the health unit says.
Two outbreak declarations remain active — one at Covenant Christian School and one at Lord Dorchester Secondary.
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Dr. David Williams said Thursday that students in 27 southern regions would be taught entirely online as the government looked at adding new safety measures in schools.
All students are currently learning online as part of a provincial lockdown that began Boxing Day.
Elementary students in southern Ontario were supposed to return to schools next week, along with all students in northern Ontario.
The province said northern Ontario students will still return to in-person classes on Monday, but a lockdown in that region that was to lift this weekend will be extended for two weeks.
Vaccinations and testing
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However, Summers noted Thursday that there is “very little vaccine” currently available in London and Middlesex, but there is some.
“As per the provincial guidance, and consistent with where we have seen the most illness and death over the course of this pandemic, vaccines are being prioritized for long-term care home and retirement home staff, and residents when it’s possible to fulsomely move the Pfizer vaccine, if available, out to those facilities,” Summers said.
He stressed, though, that there is not currently enough vaccine to cover all long-term care and retirement home staff in London and Middlesex.
“We try to ensure that we’re using that vaccine in a way that minimizes the potential for people to die, and at this point in time, that remains people who are working in congregate care settings for seniors,” he said.
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Summers says the health unit and its partners will continue following provincial direction when it comes to which groups should next receive the vaccine, adding that they await the arrival of more doses to get the vaccine out to those who need it.
Earlier this week, LHSC officials said roughly 500 people are being administered the vaccine daily, with the hope of doubling that number in the near future.
During Monday’s briefing, local health officials said they expected the Moderna vaccine, which requires less intense cold storage requirements than the Pfizer vaccine, to come soon.
Provincially, the Ford government says 14,932 vaccination doses were administered as of Friday morning, with 87,563 administered in total.
Ontario said earlier this week that all long-term care residents, workers and essential caregivers in COVID-19 hot spots will be vaccinated by Jan. 21.
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It comes as the region recorded a 5.3 per cent test per cent positivity rate as of last week, according to figures released Wednesday by the health unit. The rate is up from 3.7 per cent the week before.
That rise came as the region saw nearly 1,500 fewer tests than the previous week — 9,738 compared to 11,188.
The city’s two main assessment centres have continued to see steady turnout, with Carling Heights seeing the largest demand.
The Carling Heights centre has recorded between 454 and 537 visits per day between Dec. 31 and Jan. 7, according to the health unit.
Current average visitation rates at Carling Heights are among the highest the facility has seen during the entire pandemic.
Oakridge Arena, which was closed over the holiday season, reopened on Monday and has seen between 318 and 369 visits per day so far this week.
Ontario reported 3,443 cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, 806 fewer than the record set the day before.
The province also reported 40 more deaths associated with the virus, for a death toll now totalling 4,922.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 1,070 new cases are in Toronto, 548 are in Peel Region, 303 are in York Region, 282 are in Windsor-Essex County, and 179 are in Ottawa.
Provincial figures showed there are 1,457 people hospitalized with the virus (up by 11), with 382 in intensive care (up by 13), and 244 on a ventilator (down by six).
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Ontario’s associate medical officer of health says the province may need to return to a stricter lockdown similar to the one imposed last spring.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe said the current case rates are “scary” and urged people not to be complacent about following public health measures.
The current provincial lockdown began Boxing Day and is set to last until Jan. 23.
Two people have died and another 40 have tested positive for the coronavirus, Southwestern Public Health reported on Friday.
It brings the region’s total case tally to 1,650, of which 1,268 have recovered — 42 more than the day before — and 30 have died.
A health unit spokesperson said the two deaths were reported at Maple Manor Nursing Home and involved two women, one in their 80s and one in their 90s.
With Thursday’s update, there are at least 352 active cases in the county. Of those, at least 94 are in Tillsonburg, while 66 are in St. Thomas.
Elsewhere, 44 cases are active in Woodstock, 33 cases are active in Aylmer, and 24 are active in East Zorra-Tavistock.
So far this month, the region has reported 346 cases and 17 deaths — more than half of all deaths seen in Elgin and Oxford during the pandemic so far.
The region posted a record single-day case increase of 75 on Saturday, and last week saw a test per cent positivity rate of 6.2 per cent, according to figures released this week.
The rate rose from 4.1 per cent the week before, and 3.3 the week before that.
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No new institutional outbreaks have been declared, and two have been deemed resolved.
The resolved outbreaks were declared on Dec. 17 at Seasons Retirement Home, linked to two staff cases, and on Dec. 19 at Chartwell Aylmer, linked to three staff cases.
Elsewhere, severe outbreaks remain active at Maple Manor Nursing Home and PeopleCare Tavistock.
The Maple Manor Nursing Home is the most severe outbreak recorded in the region so far, clocking in 58 resident cases, 41 staff cases, and nine deaths, including two on Friday. One additional resident case was reported Friday.
At PeopleCare, at least 35 residents and 30 staff have contracted the virus — an increase of one each from Thursday. At least five people have died at the facility.
Outbreaks also remain in place at the following locations, as declared on:
- Jan. 6 at Trillium Retirement Home (one resident case)
- Jan. 4 at Goodness Retirement Living (one staff case)
- Jan. 4 at Caressant Care Bonnie Place (one resident case)
- Jan. 1 at Woodingford Lodge – Woodstock (one staff case)
- Dec. 19 at Terrace Lodge (four staff cases).
At least 23 outbreaks have been declared in the region at 17 separate facilities.
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No new school cases appear to have been reported in the region. No cases are active at schools in the region that are operated by the Thames Valley District School Board or the London District Catholic School Board.
The health unit defers updates about school cases to the boards and to the province, which has paused the updating of its online database amid the remote learning period.
At least 64 school cases have been reported in the region since the school year began, most of them in Elgin County.
By location, Aylmer continues to see the highest number of overall cases with 296. Due to its small population, the case total is equivalent to 3,857 cases per 100,000 people.
St. Thomas, which has seen 289 cases, has an incidence rate of 760 per 100,000.
Elsewhere, Woodstock has seen 252 cases, Tillsonburg 223, Bayham 138, Norwich Township 123, East Zorra-Tavistock 72, Ingersoll 67, Blandford-Blenheim 44, Zorra 37, South-West Oxford 30, Central Elgin 27, West Elgin 16, Southwold 14, Dutton/Dunwich 12, and Malahide six.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 6.2 per cent as of last week, up from 4.2 the week prior. Roughly 5,028 people were tested, compared to 5,291 the week prior.
One person has died and 32 others have tested positive for the coronavirus, Huron Perth Public Health reported on Friday.
The update brings the region’s total case total to 825, of which 701 have recovered — 27 more than the day before — and 24 have died.
Details about the deceased were not immediately available.
Of the 32 new cases, 12 are from North Perth, five are from St. Marys, three each are from Morris Burnberry, Perth East, South Huron and Stratford, two are from Howick, and one is from Bluewater.
The region has reported at least 120 new cases and two deaths since Jan. 1.
As of Friday, at least 100 cases were considered active in the region, including 26 in North Perth, 22 in South Huron, and 19 in Stratford.
It’s unclear whether any new cases have been reported as part of an outbreak involving the Stratford Fire Department. At least five members of the department have tested positive.
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An outbreak is active at Caressant Care in North Perth, linked to eight resident cases. The outbreak was declared active on Jan. 4, but only recently appeared on the health unit’s website.
Elsewhere, six other outbreaks remain active in the region — four at long-term care homes and two at retirement homes. The outbreaks were declared active on:
- Dec. 18 at Exeter Villa in South Huron (31 resident cases and eight staff cases)
- Dec. 21 at Exeter Villa Retirement Home in South Huron (one resident case)
- Dec. 26 at Braemar Nursing Home in North Huron (two staff cases)
- Jan. 1 at Livingstone Manor in North Perth (two resident and two staff cases)
- Jan. 3 at Seaforth Manor in Huron East (one staff case)
- Jan. 4 at Knollcrest Lodge in Perth East (two staff cases).
According to the health unit, no new cases were reported at the facilities.
Meantime, no new school cases have been reported in the region, according to the Avon Maitland District School Board and the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.
At least eight cases remain active at schools under the Avon Maitland Board. The cases were confirmed on:
- Dec. 29 at North Perth Westfield Elementary School
- Dec. 29 at Stratford District Secondary School (two cases)
- Jan. 4 at Elma Township Public School
- Jan. 4 at F.E. Madill Secondary School
- Jan. 4 at Stratford District Secondary School
- Jan. 4 at St. Marys District Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
- Jan. 6 at South Huron District High School.
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Of the region’s total case count, 358 cases have been located in Perth County, including 197 in North Perth and 120 in Perth East.
Elsewhere, 226 cases have been in Stratford, while 221 have been in Huron County, and 20 have been in St. Marys.
As of the week of Dec. 27, the region’s test per cent positivity rate was 3.4 per cent, up from 2.5 per cent a week earlier, and 1.6 per cent the week before that.
At least 3,494 people were tested, down from 3,742 the week before.
Forty-eight people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another 58 have recovered, Lambton Public Health reported on Friday.
It brings the region’s total case tally to 1,138, of which 889 have recovered and 28 have died. The most recent death was reported on Dec. 19.
Lambton County has reported at least 291 cases since Jan. 1, health unit figures show. The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 6.8 per cent as of last week.
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No new outbreaks have been declared, either at health-care institutions or at workplaces, however new cases were reported in relation to some ongoing outbreaks.
Presently, seven outbreaks remain active at long-term care and retirement homes in the county, linked to at least 17 cases. They were declared on:
- Dec. 19 at Trillium Villa in Sarnia (four staff cases, two more than the day before)
- Dec. 27 at Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia (two resident cases)
- Dec. 30 at Village on the St. Clair in Sarnia (two resident cases and five staff cases, one more resident case than the day before)
- Dec. 31 at North Lambton Lodge in Forest (one resident case)
- Jan. 1 at Afton Park Place in Sarnia (one staff case)
- Jan. 1 at Lambton Meadowview Villa in Petrolia (two staff cases)
- Jan. 4 at Fairwinds Lodge in Sarnia (four resident cases and two staff cases, three more resident cases than the day before).
At workplaces, at least seven outbreaks are still active, linked to 29 cases — six more than the day before. The names and locations of the workplaces have not been made public.
The most recent workplace outbreak was declared on Jan. 3, tied to six cases as of Friday — three more than the day before.
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No information is available as to whether any school cases have been confirmed.
The Lambton Kent District School Board says it will not be reporting case data during the mandated remote learning period.
The St. Clair Catholic District School Board, meantime, has not updated its online COVID-19 page since before the holidays.
One school outbreak declaration remains active, located at Confederation Central School, according to the health unit.
At least 75,516 people had been tested in the county as of Jan. 2, the most recent figures available.
The region’s test per cent positivity rate was 6.8 per cent that week, a jump from the 3.30 seen the week before and the 0.86 seen during the week of Dec. 6.
The health unit says 4,221 people were tested between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2.
— With files Matthew Trevithick, Ryan Rocca, and The Canadian Press
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