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One death and 43 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in London-Middlesex, local health officials said Monday.
The news comes as vaccine eligibility expands across the province to all adults 18 and older. In Lambton, meanwhile, vaccine eligibility is being expanded to youth 12 and up.
The update brings the region’s pandemic case total to 11,667, of which 10,820 have resolved, an increase of 81 from the day before.
At least 214 deaths have been reported. The most recent death involved a man in his 70s who was associated with a long-term care home, the health unit said. It’s the second day in a row that a death has been reported.
At least 633 cases are active in London-Middlesex. The region has recorded 1,178 cases so far this month.
The region’s rolling seven-day case average stands at 57 (May 11-17), down from 80 the seven days prior. The seven-day average for April 11-17 was 120.
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Of the 43 new cases Tuesday, 41 are from London while two are from elsewhere in Middlesex County.
People under 40 make up roughly 60 per cent of cases.
At least 11 cases involve people aged 19 or younger; nine are in their 20s; six are in their 30s; three are in their 40s; six are in their 50s; five are in their 60s; one is in their 70s; and two are 80 or older.
Close contact is listed as the exposure source for 23 cases, while 12 cases have pending or undetermined data. Seven have no known link, and one is outbreak-related.
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The number of confirmed/presumed* variant cases recorded in London-Middlesex has risen by 25 to 2,600.
Variants have been making up a vast majority of cases seen in the region over the last several weeks, including at least 83 per cent of cases during the week of May 2, and 78 per cent of cases during the week of May 9.
(Data for the week of May 9 is still being added, so that percentage may change.)
Nearly all of the variant cases, 2,572, have been the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K. Twenty-seven have involved the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, and one has involved the B.1.617 variant, first identified in India.
*A note on the process of confirming and presuming variant cases:
- Positive COVID-19 cases undergo initial screening for spike protein mutations common to variants (including N501Y, E484K and K417N), and if found to have one or more, undergo further genomic analysis to determine the specific variant involved (such as B.1.1.7, B.1.351 or P.1) — a process that can take up to two weeks.
- The province has stopped conducting genomic analysis on cases that screen positive for just N501Y. Those cases are presumed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, as the variant has only been associated with that mutation.
- Cases that screen positive for either E484K or K417N are still being sent for genomic analysis as they have been associated with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.
A total of 327 other cases have been found to have a spike protein mutation consistent with one or more coronavirus variants.
Of those, 169 were found to have the E484K mutation, consistent with the P.1 and B.1.351 variants. (At least 115 were found to have both E484K and N501Y). They remain under genomic testing to determine the specific variant involved.
Another 158 cases were initially found to have just the N501Y mutation, but they have not been ruled out yet for E484K.
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A total of 10,505 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 360 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 327 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 148 in Thames Centre, 72 in Lucan Biddulph, 56 in North Middlesex, 54 in Southwest Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and three in Newbury.
At least 127 cases have pending location information.
At least 49 COVID-19 patients were in the care of London Health Sciences Centre as of noon Monday, with 23 in critical or intensive care. Fewer than five staff cases are active.
During Monday’s media briefing, Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s chief medical officer, said of the 49, 11 patients are from outside of LHSC’s normal referral region.
The 49 tally is roughly half of where it was a week and a half ago when a record 100 COVID-19 patients were in LHSC’s care on May 7.
“While our COVID-19 numbers are decreasing, we are still caring for 40 patients that have recovered from COVID but still remain in hospital,” Dukelow said.
“We want to be transparent that it will take some time before we see significant improvements to our overall capacity,” he continued, adding LHSC continued to be cautiously optimistic looking at the weeks ahead.
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LHSC has opened more than two dozen additional critical care beds to deal with the influx of patients from other regions, namely the hard-hit Toronto-area, and has curbed non-urgent surgeries as part of a provincial directive.
“We cannot resume any non-urgent surgeries until there are changes to directive No. 2. We anticipate that will happen in the coming days or week or so,” Dukelow said, adding the limiting factor will be the organization’s health and human resources.
Though patient numbers have declined, rates are still high, and LSHC is still obligated to maintain the ICU capacity it’s built up over the last several months, he said.
“In order to maintain that critical care capacity, we need people, specifically nurses, PSWs, other front-line care providers that are currently working in our ICUs that would normally work in our post anesthesia care unit or in our operating rooms.”
Dukelow said it will likely take weeks if not months for things to get back to normal. Recovering from the surgical backlog, he said, may take years.
No new outbreaks have been declared and none have been resolved, the health unit says.
Four remain active in the region at seniors’ facilities.
One each is active at Dearness Home (5 East, 5 West), Kensington Village (first-floor long-term care) Kensington Village Retirement (Canterbury) and McGarrell Place (Windermere Way).
The health unit has not said how many cases are linked to each outbreak.
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Meanwhile, health officials are also continuing to investigate a large outbreak involving a funeral service earlier this month that has been linked to as many as 16 cases as of this week.
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A non-institutional outbreak also remains active at the city’s jail.
One inmate case is listed as being active at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre as of Sunday, the most recent data available.
At least 62 inmate cases and 43 staff cases have been reported at the jail as a result of the outbreak, declared on Jan. 18.
No new school-linked cases have been reported and one remains active.
The case is associated with Bonaventure Meadows Public School, the health unit says.
The health unit says 352 school-linked cases have been reported during the pandemic.
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In the local child-care sector, seven active cases are linked to two facilities.
Six are active involving Simply Kids, which has had an active outbreak declaration since May 12, while one case is active associated with Kids & Company – London.
Ninety-three cases have been reported at child care/early years settings during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, no outbreaks are active involving local post-secondary institutions.
Vaccinations and Testing
All adults aged 18 and older are now eligible to get the vaccine at a local vaccination clinic. Those who are turning 12 this year will also be allowed to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
However, it may take some time for all eligible people to get their first shot.
“We have capacity in the next four weeks of vaccine booking for about 24,000 people. Unfortunately, in that age group, there are about 135,000 people in this area — so about one dose available for every five or six people in that age group,” Mackie said on Monday.
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In a tweet Monday night, Mackie said a last-ditch effort to procure additional doses had failed.
“I’m sorry in advance for the frustrating situation of limited vaccine supply,” Mackie posted to Twitter. “If at first you don’t succeed, please try again.”
Mackie added that appointments open daily between 7:30 and 8 a.m., and that the health unit was hoping to open another large block of appointments on Monday or Tuesday of next week.
Eligible residents are asked to visit the local vaccine booking website or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment at one of the region’s four vaccination clinics. Online appointments are encouraged.
Ontario’s vaccine effort had been criticized initially for a slow and bumpy start. The rollout ramped up in recent weeks and the government has said it aims to have all eligible adults fully vaccinated by the end of September.
The province had initially planned to open eligibility to all adults on May 27, but bumped up the date to Tuesday after a planned shipment of vaccines arrived early.
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The province plans to begin rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children 12-17 the week of May 31. The health unit has said previously that it wants to get first doses to the age group by the end of June if supply allows.
Since last week, certain high-risk health-care workers have been able to book their second doses by phone. More information on who is eligible to get an earlier second dose can be found on the health unit website.
The health unit has been doling out vaccines at three mass vaccination clinics and is set to open its fourth in exactly a week at Earl Nichols Recreation Centre.
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Roughly 3,000 to 3,500 vaccines are being administered in London-Middlesex every day. More than 225,000 have been given out so far.
Health unit data shows roughly 183,800 vaccines, or about 81 per cent, have been through mass vaccination clinics as of the week of May 9.
At least 20,367 doses have been through pharmacies, 10,682 have been through congregate care settings, 6,941 have been through primary care settings, and 4,054 through other means, such as mobile clinics.
Roughly 7,500 vaccines were given out through pharmacies the week of April 18, down to 806 the week of May 9 due largely to the pausing of first doses of AstraZeneca on Tuesday.
Most provinces have temporarily halted using AstraZeneca for any more first doses with supplies of it currently limited and as further data emerges on the risk of vaccine-induced blood clots in patients who got that vaccine.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Tuesday she expects Canadians who got an initial AstraZeneca shot will be albe to choose which vaccine they get for their second.
A small Spanish study reported that giving a Pfizer-BioNTech for the second dose after AstraZeneca is safe and produced a stronger immune response than a second dose of AstraZeneca.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is still awaiting further data from another mixing-and-matching study underway in the United Kingdom.
Hundreds of pharmacies across Ontario are now giving out Pfizer and Moderna doses, however none are in London-Middlesex.
The closest participating pharmacies are located in Elgin-Oxford, including in Aylmer, Ingersoll, St. Thomas, Tillsonburg and Woodstock.
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Those looking for a COVID-19 test can still visit the region’s two main assessment centres.
The assessment centres, located at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.
Officials with London Health Sciences Centre reported Tuesday that they had processed more than one million COVID-19 tests since the start March 18, 2020.
In a statement, Dr. Mike Kadour, LHSC’s chief laboratory officer, said the milestone brought pride to the organization and to Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (PaLM) staff.
“Behind every test is a person that is waiting on critical information about their health,” he said.
“Our work not only provides that health data in a timely manner to individuals, it also helps to inform at an aggregate level, important public health decisions aimed at ensuring the safety of our broader communities. To have made that kind of contribution more than a million times feels particularly meaningful for us.”
LHSC says the lab first began processing test swabs with a goal of building from 50 to 3,000 tests per day. Currently, the lab can process up to 10,000 per day while regularly meeting a 24-hour turnaround.
Meanwhile, Shoppers Drug Mart says it is now offering rapid antigen COVID-19 tests for asymptomatic people at all its pharmacies in Ontario and Alberta, though these have to be purchased at a cost of $40.
Ontario reported 1,616 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 17 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 472 new cases in Toronto, 360 in Peel Region and 116 in York Region, as well as 114 new cases in Hamilton and 102 in Durham Region.
The data is based on more than 22,900 completed tests.
The Ministry of Health said 1,484 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus — 764 are in intensive care and 559 are on a ventilator.
Ontario said 109,032 more people received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine since Monday’s report, for a total of at least 7.2 million.
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The province remains under a stay-at-home order that was recently extended to June 2 but Elliot said Tuesday that the government had begun to develop its economic reopening plan.
She said ministries across the government are working on the strategy with Ontario’s chief medical officer of health that would be released “very soon.”
“It’s also sector-specific, looking at what different types of sectors (can) perhaps be reopened, and what their specific needs and timelines are as well,” she said.
While cases were trending down in southern Ontario hot spots, the northern city of Timmins, Ont., declared a state of emergency in response to “rapid and un-checked spread of COVID-19” in the community.
Elgin and Oxford
Seven new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported Tuesday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,675, of which 3,491 have resolved — an increase of 25 from the day before.
At least 79 deaths have been reported, one more than the day before. Health unit officials said the death was not new, but was a previously unreported death from February, linked to an outbreak at Maple Manor in Tillsonburg, that was found after regular data cleaning.
At least 105 cases are currently active in the region, including 35 in Woodstock, 16 in Tillsonburg and 15 in St. Thomas.
Five people from Elgin-Oxford are in hospital with COVID-19, four of them in intensive care, the health unit says.
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The number of variant cases, and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 680, 14 more then the day before. At least 80 are active.
At least 606 of them have either been confirmed or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant and two cases have been confirmed to be the P.1 variant, while one has been confirmed to be the B.1.351 variant.
Seventy-one cases have screened positive for the E484K spike protein mutation, which has been associated with the P.1 and B.1.351 variants. Those cases are undergoing genomic analysis.
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As of Tuesday, all adults are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine at a local vaccination clinic.
Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site and are being encouraged to add their name to a same-day vaccination list.
Slots are expected to go quickly. Officials say new spots will open daily between 7:30 and 8 a.m.
Certain high-risk health-care workers are also able to schedule their second doses. A list of eligible workers can be found on the MLHU website. Bookings for second doses must be made by phone at 226-289-3560.
Elsewhere, residents in Elgin-Oxford can also get doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines through pharmacies as part of the provincial pilot. It comes after initial doses of AstraZeneca, which had been given through the pharmacies, was paused last week.
Pharmacies in Aylmer, Ingersoll, St. Thomas, Tillsonburg and Woodstock are offering doses of the mRNA vaccines. Locations can be found on the province’s website and bookings must be made with the pharmacies themselves.
More than 80,000 people in SWPH have been vaccinated with at least one dose.
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No new school-related cases have been reported by local school boards.
No new outbreaks have been reported either.
Two remain active, including one at Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital that is linked to 15 patient cases, five staff cases and one death.
An outbreak at Caressant Care Nursing Home in Woodstock, meanwhile, has been linked with four resident cases, six staff cases and one death.
Woodstock has reported the most cases overall with at least 820, followed by St. Thomas with 672, Aylmer with 514 and Tillsonburg with 467.
At least 238 cases have been in Norwich Township, while 186 have been in Bayham, 178 in Ingersoll, 140 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 91 in Central Elgin, 89 in Blandford-Blenheim, 82 in Zorra, 69 in South-West Oxford, 46 in Dutton/Dunwich, 36 in Southwold, 28 in West Elgin and 18 in Malahide.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at three per cent the week of May 2, down from 3.2 per cent the previous week. Updated numbers are expected this week.
Huron and Perth
Two new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Huron-Perth, local health officials reported on Tuesday.
One case each was reported in Huron East and North Huron.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,732, of which 1,601 have resolved., an increase of 13 from the day before. At least 55 deaths have been reported, most recently on Thursday.
The health unit says at least 76 cases are active in the region, including 21 in Stratford and 16 in South Huron.
At least two people are currently in hospital with COVID-19.
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The number of variant cases, and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 217, three more than the day before. At least 49 are active.
A total of 142 are confirmed or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, according to Public Health Ontario.
Details on the remaining variant/mutation-positive cases are limited, but it is likely the cases screened positive for the E484K mutation, which is consistent with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, and are under genomic analysis.
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All people aged 18 and older are now eligible to get the vaccine at a vaccination clinic.
Those looking to book an appointment are asked to do so via the local booking system or by calling 1-833-753-2098.
The health unit notes on its website that slots are booked up until at least the week of June 14, and even then, spots that week are very limited.
“We are working with our local school boards on vaccinations for youth ages 12-17 and their family members, to take place mid-June; more details will be available shortly,” officials said in an update on Monday.
Certain high-risk health-care workers can also schedule their second doses. More information can be found on the health unit’s website.
Huron-Perth Public Health says more than 77,476 people have been vaccinated in Huron-Perth so far.
First doses of the AstraZeneca shot remain on pause by the province. No pharmacies in the Huron-Perth region are currently offering vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna.
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No new school-related cases have been reported. Eleven are currently active in the region, none as a result of school exposure.
Full lists can be found on the websites of the Avon-Maitland District School Board and Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.
No long-term home or retirement home outbreaks are active in the region.
Three are active at unnamed workplaces, one in the community and one at a congregate living setting.
A total of 661 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 406 in North Perth and 157 in Perth East, while 592 have been reported in Huron County, with 146 in South Huron and 110 in Huron East.
Stratford has reported at least 435 in total, while St. Marys has seen 44.
At least 3.1 per cent of tests were coming back positive the week of May 2, up from one per cent the previous week. Updated numbers are expected this week.
Sarnia and Lambton
One death and one new COVID-19 case has been reported in Lambton County, local health officials reported on Monday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,411, of which 3,280 have resolved, an increase of 15 from the day before.
At least 58 deaths have been reported in the region. Details on the most recent death were not immediately available.
At least 73 cases are currently active in the region, the health unit says.
Bluewater Health reported 12 COVID-19 patients in their care, unchanged from the day before.
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A total of 525 cases have been confirmed or are presumed to be a variant case, or have screened positive for a spike protein mutation consistent with a variant — 11 more than the day before.
Public Health Ontario data shows 378 of the cases have either been confirmed to be or are presumed* to be the B.1.1.7 variant. Four cases have been confirmed to be the P.1 variant. Details of the remaining cases are limited.
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As of Tuesday, all adults aged 18 and older can now get the vaccine at a local vaccination clinic.
In addition, Lambton health officials announced Tuesday that it is also expanding eligibility to all people 12 and older at the region’s largest immunization clinic at Point Edward Arena.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was recently approved by Health Canada for use in youth over the age of 12.
“We want to encourage families with children 12 years of age and older to book their vaccination appointments together,” said Dr. Sudit Ranade, the region’s medical officer of health, in a statement.
Those eligible to get the shot are being encouraged to book appointments for the vaccine through the health unit’s website.
Slots have been getting snapped up quickly. Officials say residents should check back often as additional clinics will be added as vaccine supply is confirmed.
Roughly 50 per cent of the county’s eligible population 18 and older have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, the health unit says.
“By the end of May, we estimate close to 65 per cent of the eligible population in the region will have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine,” Ranade said.
He added that the health unit will invite residents to book their second doses soon, saying invitations will be sent directly as clinic availability opens.
“Depending on our vaccine supply, some residents may be able to receive their second dose before the 16-week interval,” he said.
People with questions can contact the health unit’s call centre at 226-254-8222, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
More information can also be found on the health unit’s vaccine page.
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No updates are available regarding school-linked cases. The region’s two main school boards have paused the reporting of new cases during the remote learning period.
No new outbreaks have been declared, but one has resolved.
The outbreak was at an unnamed workplace, declared May 3. It was tied to three cases.
Elsewhere, four outbreaks remain active, including two at unnamed workplaces, linked to three and five cases, respectively.
An outbreak is also active at Afton Park Place, a long-term care home in Sarnia, linked to two resident cases, 10 staff cases, and one death — one staff case more than Monday.
An outbreak is also active at Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia, associated with four patient and five staff cases, unchanged from the day before.
The health unit says the region’s per cent positivity was two per cent the week of May 2, about the same as the 1.9 per cent seen a week earlier. Updated numbers are expected this week.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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