One person has died, and 30 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another 29 have been listed as resolved, according to the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
The new numbers come as two new coronavirus variant cases were confirmed in the region Friday, according to health officials. It’s unclear yet which of the variants of concern is involved, however.
The region’s pandemic case tally stands at 6005 as of Saturday, of which 5,616 have been listed as resolved and 181 people have died. The latest death was a woman in their 80s associated with a long-term care home.
The health unit on Thursday changed the way it reports cases, introducing new “active” and “resolved” case tallies that replace the overall “recovered” tally used previously.
As of Friday, the health unit says at least 208 coronavirus cases remain active in the London and Middlesex region.
At least 295 new cases have been reported since Feb. 1 along with six deaths.
Of the 30 new cases Saturday, all but one are from London. The health unit says one case was reported in Strathroy-Caradoc.
During a snap media briefing on Friday, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said the region had seen at least six cases involving coronavirus variants, with two being confirmed earlier in the day.
At least four of the region’s six variant cases have been previously reported and involved the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.
It remains to be seen what variant the two newest cases involve. The process of determining that information takes at least one to two weeks and is done at the provincial level, Mackie said.
“It’s a very time intensive process. It’s not like the quick turnaround with the PCR test, which is just looking for certain subsets of the genetic code. The whole genome sequencing has to sequence the entire genetic code, and that takes a fair bit of time,” he said.
No cases have yet to be confirmed locally involving the variant Lineage P.1, which was first detected in Brazil, or the variant B.1.351 — also known as N501Y.V2 — first detected in South Africa, the report says.
The region is set to enter the red-control tier of the province’s colour-coded restrictions framework as of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
The move back to red-control and away from the provincewide shutdown will see indoor organized public events and social gatherings allowed again, with a maximum of five people.
Under red-control, outdoor gatherings with a limit of 25 people are allowed, compared to five under the shutdown.
Attendance limits for religious services, rites or ceremonies such as wedding services and funeral services (at any venue other than a private dwelling, and where physical distancing can be maintained) will be raised to 30 per cent capacity of the room indoors and 100 people outdoors, from a maximum of 10 indoors/outdoors under the shutdown.
Indoor dining is allowed under the red-control tier, with an indoor capacity limit of 10 people where physical distancing can be maintained. Outdoor dining is also allowed, but with limitations, such as distanced seating and table limits.
Non-essential retail is also allowed to reopen for in-person shopping but with new capacity limits, in addition to those previously found under red-control.
The province says supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies will now have a 75 per cent capacity limit, while all other retail will have a 50 per cent capacity limit.
Capacity limits must be posted publicly, and stores must have passive screening for patrons, the province says.
The province and health unit stress that despite the looser restrictions, residents are urged to limit close contact to those in your household, stay at home as much as possible, avoid social gatherings and avoid travel except for essential reasons.
“It’s absolutely imperative that we continue to observe the restrictions that are in place and avoid all indoor gatherings of any social nature,” Mackie said Friday.
“We really encourage people to limit travel in the community to essential services, and that is a recommendation that continues in spite of any changes to the restrictions at this point.”
Mackie said he believed that placing London-Middlesex in red rather than orange was the better move at the present time, adding it will likely be at least two weeks before there is any possible change.
“Time will tell what the impact of lifting the stay at home order will be, aside from which colour code we go into,” he said.
“I agree that our numbers are still trending in the right direction. That, of course, with a virus like this, could change very quickly. While the last few days would point us in the direction of moving down in the framework, it’s still pretty early to be able to say where we should be even a week from now.”
Nearly all of the province, save for three hot spots in the Greater Toronto Area, will be back under the colour-coded framework as of Tuesday.
The move is being made despite messaging Thursday from the pandemic science advisory group that aggressive vaccination and maintaining a stay-at-home order would help Ontario avoid a third wave and another lockdown amid concerns over more contagious variants.
The group of health experts who advise the province said the variants are spreading and currently account for five to 10 per cent of all cases. That will likely cause cases to increase again by late February, they said.
The province could see “exponential growth” of the variant that emerged in the U.K. if public health measures are unable to significantly reduce the rate at which the virus spreads, said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the group.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on Premier Doug Ford to halt Ontario’s gradual economic reopening and extend lockdown measures in light of the new projections.
“I’m asking Doug Ford: stop in your tracks, turn this bus around,” she said. “We can’t go on as if this information doesn’t exist.”
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the information provided by the advisory group appears to directly contradict the reopening planned by the government.
“Ontario has been stuck in a costly and dangerous cycle of lockdown and reopening,” he said. “(The) modelling shows that this cycle is set to continue. This will cause more pain for workers and small businesses.”
The region’s seven-day case average stood at 15.0 as of Friday, down from 23.0.
At least 5,222 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 244 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, at least 201 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 96 in Thames Centre, 51 in Lucan Biddulph, 37 in Southwest Middlesex, 32 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.
At least 106 cases have pending location information.
London Health Sciences Centres does not update case numbers over the weekend.
The number of COVID-19 patients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre rose by one from the previous day to 17, the organization reported Friday.
At the same time, the number of those patients in critical or intensive care stood at seven, an increase of two from the day before.
Active staff cases within LHSC stood at fewer than five as of Friday, unchanged from the day before.
Intensive care occupancy rates at University Hospital stood at 85 per cent as of Monday, while at Victoria Hospital the rate was about 75 per cent, according to LHSC’s chief medical officer.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meantime, no COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital as of Friday.
One active staff case remains within the organization, linked to an outbreak. Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care declared a new outbreak on Thursday.
One case remains active involving a patient of Parkwood’s Mental Health Care Building.
At least 350 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 during the pandemic, according to the health unit. At least 66 have needed intensive care.
One new institutional outbreak has been declared at Parkwood Institute Mental Health Care Building, according to the health unit.
St. Joseph’s Health Care London reported one outbreak-related case within the organization on Friday involving a staff member.
The Mount Hope outbreak is the second to be seen at the facility in recent months. One outbreak was active from Dec. 22 until Feb. 2 in several units. It was linked to at least five resident deaths.
Following the update, six outbreaks remain active in the region, declared on:
- Feb. 12 at Parkwood Institute Mental Health Care Building (G2)
- Feb. 11 at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care (MV2)
- Feb. 3 at Westmount Gardens (Lily, Daisy, Yellow Rose units)
- Jan. 30 at Henley Place LTC Residence (Victoria unit)
- Jan. 2 at Chelsey Park (long-term care – facility-wide)
- Dec. 23 at Middlesex Terrace (facility-wide)
Elsewhere, an outbreak at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre remains active, however, all inmate cases have resolved, according to provincial data.
The data showed 22 resolved inmate cases and no active cases as of Wednesday. The data is delayed by two days.
At least 21 staff members at the jail also tested positive due to the outbreak, however similar information on active and resolved cases was not available.
Global News does not update school cases over the weekend.
An outbreak has been declared at Caradoc North Public School in Strathroy-Caradoc after the health unit reported a second case at the school in less than a week.
The Thames Valley District School Board first reported a case at the school on Feb. 8. Few other details have been released.
The outbreak is the second to be declared at a local school in as many days. An outbreak was declared on Wednesday at Clara Brenton Public School after a second case was reported there.
Elsewhere, an active case at Kensal Park French Immersion Public School has resolved. The health unit also removed a case from Arthur Stringer Public School from its active list on Friday for reasons unclear. The case had been confirmed just on Thursday.
As of Friday, nine coronavirus cases are active at seven schools in London and Middlesex. A full list can be found on the health unit’s website.
Overall, 196 school and child-care centre cases have been reported by the health unit.
The MLHU says one case remains active involving Springbank Early Childhood Learning Centre.
Elementary schools and high schools in the region returned to in-person learning last week.
The province announced Thursday that it was postponing March break provincewide until April 12.
Vaccinations and testing
Health officials say they expect to finish administering second doses to long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents by Wednesday.
During Thursday’s media briefing, Mackie said health unit teams were roughly halfway through vaccinating facilities in the region.
“And then hopefully we get a green light soon to be able to start offering additional first doses to retirement homes that have not yet received the vaccine because they’ve been deemed to be lower risk,” he said.
Work is ongoing to convert the Caradoc Community Centre in Mount Brydges into the region’s second mass vaccination clinic to complement the clinic already open at the Western Fair District Agriplex, which reopened on Monday.
A total of at least four clinics are being planned for London-Middlesex, with the aim of vaccinating as many as 3,000 people per day. Details remain scant on the locations or progress of the remaining two clinics.
The province remains in Phase 1 of the government’s three-phase vaccination rollout.
The city’s two main COVID-19 assessment centres remain open and operating by appointment.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.7 per cent as of the week of Jan. 31, down from 2.2 the week before, figures released Wednesday show.
At least 10,060 people were tested during the week of Jan. 31, a slight decrease from the 10,341 tested a week earlier.
Ontario reported 1,300 cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 284,887.
“Locally, there are 433 new cases in Toronto, 253 in Peel and 116 in York Region,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.
A total of 265,893 COVID-19 cases are considered resolved, which is up by 1,434 and is 93.3 per cent of all confirmed cases.
Nineteen additional deaths were also reported on Saturday, bringing the provincial death toll to 6,651.
Nearly 58,800 additional tests were completed. Ontario has now conducted a total of 10,327,211 tests and 32,143 remain under investigation.
The province indicated that the positivity rate for the last day was 2.3 per cent, which is up slightly from Friday’s report, when it was 2.2 per cent, but down from last Saturday’s report, when it was 2.6 per cent.
There have been 297 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K., as well as three of the B.1.351 variant which was discovered in South Africa, and one case of the P.1 variant, first found in Brazil.
Provincial figures showed there are 786 people hospitalized with the virus (up by 23), with 287 in intensive care (down by eight), 203 of whom are on a ventilator (down by one).
Elgin and Oxford
Six people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another 25 have recovered, Southwestern Public Health reported Saturday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,424, of which 2,269 people have recovered and 64 have died.
The health unit lowered its death toll by one Thursday after a death previously attributed to COVID-19 was re-examined, spokesperson Megan Cornwell said.
At least 91 cases are still listed as active in Elgin-Oxford.
Of those, at least 51 are in Woodstock, while 10 are in St. Thomas and nine each are in Ingersoll and Tillsonburg. Seven other municipalities have fewer than five active cases.
There are currently no people listed as hospitalized by the health unit.
The province announced Friday that the region will return to the red-control tier of its colour-coded restrictions framework on Tuesday. The full regulation for the red tier can be found on the province’s website.
Global News does not update school cases on the weekend.
Two new school cases have been reported in the region, according to the Thames Valley District School Board.
The cases were confirmed Thursday at Elgin Court Public School in St. Thomas and at Royal Roads Public School in Ingersoll.
The new cases are among four that are active in the region.
One case remains active at Hickson Central Public School, while one is active at Annandale Public School in Tillsonburg, both under the TVDSB.
A case at Central Public School in Woodstock was resolved earlier this week.
Meantime, one new outbreak has been declared in the region, at a seniors’ facility in St. Thomas.
Officials say the outbreak, declared Thursday at Valleyview Nursing Home, is linked to one staff case.
It joins four other outbreaks that have been active in Elgin-Oxford, including one since mid-December.
One outbreak declared on Jan. 28 at Extendicare in Port Stanley involving one staff case has been declared over.
The region’s active outbreaks were declared on:
- Feb. 11 at Valleyview Nursing Home in St. Thomas (one staff case)
- Feb. 2 at Trillium Retirement Home in Norwich (one resident case, one death)
- Jan. 21 at Caressant Care Retirement Home in Woodstock (53 resident, 23 staff cases, two deaths)
- Dec. 16 at PeopleCare Tavistock (47 resident, 38 staff cases, 10 deaths)
The health unit says a total of 468 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 421 have been in St. Thomas, 359 in Aylmer and 329 in Tillsonburg.
Elsewhere, 201 cases have been in Norwich, 161 in Bayham, 113 in Ingersoll, 101 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 54 in Zorra, 49 in Blandford-Blenheim, 46 in South-West Oxford, 44 in Central Elgin, 25 in Southwold, 23 in Dutton/Dunwich, 21 in West Elgin and eight in Malahide.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.7 per cent as of the week of Jan. 31, health unit figures released Wednesday show. At least 4,790 people were tested that week.
Huron and Perth
One person has died and another six have tested positive for the coronavirus, Huron Perth Public Health reported on Saturday.
Of the new cases reported one was in South Huron and five were in Stratford.
The region’s pandemic case tally stands at 1,287 with 38 active cases.
At least 2,000 people have recovered, an increase of three from Friday.
Forty-nine people have died during the pandemic. Details on the most recent death were not immediately available.
At least 36 cases are active in Huron-Perth. Sixteen of them are in Huron East while five are in Stratford. Seven other municipalities have four or fewer active cases.
No people are currently in hospital, the health unit says.
The province announced Friday that Huron-Perth will return to the orange-restrict tier of its colour-coded restrictions framework. The full regulation detailing the tier’s restrictions can be found on the province’s website.
As of Saturday, six outbreaks remain active in the region, with two at long-term care homes, two at retirement homes, one at a hospital and one at a child-care centre.
The four seniors’ facility outbreaks were declared active on:
- Feb. 3 at Hillside Manor in Perth East (one resident, one staff case)
- Jan. 31 at Seaforth Manor Retirement Home in Huron East (12 resident cases)
- Jan. 17 at Seaforth Manor Nursing Home in Huron East (43 resident, 21 staff cases, five deaths; one staff case more than the day before)
- Jan. 7 at Caressant Care Retirement Home in North Perth (30 resident, 12 staff cases, at least one death)
Elsewhere, the hospital outbreak, declared on Jan. 31 at St. Marys Memorial Hospital, is linked to three patient and five staff cases, unchanged from the day before.
The child-care centre outbreak, meantime, is located at Relouw Early Childhood Learning Centre in South Huron. Declared Feb. 6, it’s linked to one student case.
Global News does not update school case information on the weekend.
There has been no change to the number of active school cases in the region. Three cases remain active, all involving the Avon-Maitland District School Board.
One case is located at Elma Township Public School, while two are located at Listowel District Secondary School.
No cases are listed as active under the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.
At least 532 cases have been reported in Perth County during the pandemic, including 340 in North Perth 133 in Perth East, 31 in Perth South and 28 in West Perth.
Elsewhere, 426 cases have been reported in Huron County, including 97 in South Huron, 94 in Huron East, 50 in Central Huron, 43 in Morris Turnberry, 38 in North Huron, 34 in Howick, 32 in Bluewater, 21 in ACW and 17 in Goderich.
At least 298 cases have been reported in Stratford and 31 in St. Marys.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.1 per cent as of the week of Jan. 31, down from 1.6 the week before, figures released Wednesday show.
Sarnia and Lambton
Twenty-nine people have tested positive for the coronavirus while ten cases have been resolved, Lambton Public Health reported Saturday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,938, of which 1,813 have resolved and 45 people have died. The most recent death was reported on Thursday.
The update leaves at least 80 active cases in the region. Their locations have not been made public.
The first doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to every long-term care and high-risk retirement home resident in Lambton County who wanted one, Lambton COVID-19 Immunization Task Force reported Saturday.
Lambton Public Health reported that first doses of the Moderna vaccine were also given to Indigenous Elder Care home residents on Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Kettle & Stony Point First Nation, and Walpole Island First Nation.
The Mobile Immunization Team, which consists of staff from Lambton Public Health, Bluewater Health and Lambton Emergency Medical Services (EMS), partnered to administer the first doses to these Phase 1 priority groups.
“The Mobile Team has worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to accomplish this,” said Dr. Sudit Ranade, Medical Officer of Health for Lambton County.
Dr. Ranade noted that the gradual introduction of COVID-19 vaccines is very positive news, but the public needs to remain vigilant and follow credible health advice.
“It is important to maintain all the public health measures that have been put in place over the last several months including social distancing, staying at home if you’re sick, wearing a face-covering or mask, going out only for essential items, and limiting contact to only people you live with.”
Bluewater Health reported Friday that no COVID-19 patients were in its care, unchanged from the day before.
The province announced Friday that Lambton County will return to the orange-restrict tier of its colour-coded restrictions framework. The full regulation detailing the tier’s restrictions can be found on the province’s website.
Lambton Public Health (LPH) is investigating two outbreaks at a Long Term Care and a Retirement Home declared on Feb. 12.
LPH received the laboratory-confirmed positive COVID-19 test results for one staff member at Trillium Villa Long Term Care Community in Sarnia and one staff member at Landmark Village Retirement Home in Sarnia.
“The individuals who tested positive have been notified of their results,” states Jennifer Beaubien, Family Health Supervisor for Lambton Public Health.
“LPH is continuing to conduct case and contact management as part of the investigation.”
At least nine outbreaks remain active in Lambton, with seven at seniors’ facilities, two at unnamed workplaces and one at Sarnia’s jail.
The outbreaks at long-term care and retirement homes, specifically, were declared on:
- Feb. 13 at Landmark Village Retirement Home in Sarnia (one staff case)
- Feb. 13 at Trillium Villa Long Term Care Community in Sarnia (one staff case)
- Feb. 10 at Country Manor Estates in Lambton Shores (one staff case)
- Feb. 7 at Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia (one staff case)
- Jan. 13 at Vision Rest Home (32 resident, 16 staff cases, three deaths)
- Jan. 8 at Twin Lakes Terrace (LTC) in Sarnia (18 resident, six staff cases, one death)
- Dec. 30 at Village on the St. Clair in Sarnia (28 resident, 15 staff cases, five deaths)
The jail outbreak, declared on Feb. 7, is linked to at least 14 cases among inmates and two among staff members, unchanged from the day before.
The two workplace outbreaks, meantime, are connected to three and four cases, respectively.
No new school cases have been reported in Lambton.
Four cases remain active at North Lambton Secondary School in Forest. Three cases were reported on Thursday. No active cases were listed by the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.0 per cent as of the week of Jan. 31, down from 1.5 the week before and 2.3 the week before that, figures released Wednesday show.
— With files from Matthew Trevithick, Ryan Rocca, and The Canadian Press
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