Thirteen new COVID-19 cases have been reported in London-Middlesex, local health officials said Thursday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 12,487, of which 12,155 have resolved. At least 223 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported so far, most recently on Tuesday.
At least 109 cases are active in the region, the health unit says. Health unit data shows 239 cases have been recorded since the start of the month.
The rolling seven-day case average for London-Middlesex (June 10-16) stands at 12.1 while the test positivity rate sits at 1.4 per cent as of the week of June 6.
The number of variant cases in the region stands at 3,411.
The health unit says the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), first identified in the U.K., has accounted for nearly all of them — 3,322.
Eighty-two cases have been confirmed to involve the Gamma variant (P.1), first identified in Brazil. One case has also been confirmed to involve the Zeta, or P.2, variant — the other lineage identified in Brazil in October 2020.
Four cases have been confirmed to involve the B.1.617 variant, first identified in India. Two are listed as being the Delta sub-lineage (B.1.617.2) and one the Kappa sub-lineage (B.1.617.1).
Meanwhile, two cases have been confirmed to involve the Beta variant (B.1.351), first identified in South Africa.
Variants account for the vast majority of the cases seen in the region in recent weeks. At least 76 per cent of cases last week involved variants, as have 71 per cent of cases so far this week.
Health officials say the main driver of cases in the region continues to be related to close indoor contact.
“Indoor environments really are where we’re seeing the spread. If you can take it outdoors, it makes it literally 20 times safer,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, during Monday’s media briefing.
“Essentially being outdoors is as equivalent as getting the vaccine in terms of reducing your likelihood of acquiring COVID. So if you’re doing both of those things, getting vaccinated and getting outdoors, you are really putting yourself in a good situation.”
Speaking during the briefing, London Mayor Ed Holder remarked that the region was “really and truly firing on all cylinders” when it came to COVID-19.
“When you look at the case counts — the hospitalization rates, the percentage positivity, vaccination uptake — things are going very well, exceptionally well I would say,” he said.
“Now it’s a running race between vaccines and variants. Given our world-class infrastructure and now our ample supply of vaccine, it’s also a race that we should be well-positioned to win. But we can’t let up. We need as many first doses and ultimately second doses administered as fast as we can.”
The region is currently in step one of the province’s three-step reopening plan.
Current pandemic metrics are very close to the province’s target for entering Step 2 of its plan, which would see restrictions on businesses, gatherings, and other activities loosened on July 2.
The Delta variant, however, has posed a threat to those plans in some areas.
A total of 11,302 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 360 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 335 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 156 in Thames Centre, 72 in Lucan Biddulph, 58 in Southwest Middlesex, 55 in North Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and six in Newbury, while 128 cases have pending location information.
Nineteen COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre on Thursday, unchanged from the day before.
Nine of them are in the ICU, one fewer than the day before.
Fewer than five COVID-19 patients are in acute care, and fewer than five in the ICU, are from out of region. Five staff at LHSC are currently positive for COVID-19.
The organization is continuing to deal with an outbreak at University Hospital, declared Sunday, in 8TU – Transplant Unit that has been linked to an undetermined variant.
Meanwhile, at St. Joseph’s Health Care London, the organization reported no COVID-19 patients in its care at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
There are four non-outbreak cases involving staff and one outbreak-related case involving a resident at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care.
No new outbreaks have been reported.
Just one is active in the region, located at University Hospital.
As mentioned above, the outbreak is located in the hospital’s 8TU – Transplant Unit. Fewer than five patient cases and fewer than five staff cases are linked to the outbreak.
The organization has limited visitors to the hospital’s eighth floor as a precaution and says it’s anticipating that the outbreak may impact recovery efforts and surgical volumes this week.
As of this week, 11 of 15 operating rooms at University Hospital and 14 of 17 at Victoria Hospital are online, and current occupancy is just above 90 per cent.
No new school-related cases have been reported and none are currently active.
No school-related outbreaks are active either, the health unit says.
Students are staying in remote learning until the end of the school year.
Vaccinations and Testing
Earlier second dose re-bookings are continuing for people aged 70 and older, and for people whose first dose was on or before May 9. Certain individuals are also eligible to re-book regardless of their age or date of the first dose.
The health unit accelerated second dose re-bookings earlier this week after learning that the region would be receiving some 17,000 Moderna doses next week in addition to its normal weekly Pfizer allotment of 25,000.
A similarly large shipment is also expected the week after. The influx of vaccines is also allowing the region’s vaccination clinics to ramp up to 6,000 daily immunizations from its current 4,000 starting on Monday.
Details on how to re-book a second dose, and details on how to book a first, can be found on the health unit’s website or by calling 226-289-3560. A number of local pharmacies are also offering doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but bookings must be made through the pharmacies themselves.
National health officials have authorized the use of either Pfizer or Moderna as second doses when either mRNA vaccine, or the AstraZeneca shot, was given as the first, the health unit says. The province says second doses for AstraZeneca recipients are being given at an eight to 12-week interval.
Across the province, all regions will move to a May 9 second-dose date eligibility on Monday, save for several regions which have been designated Delta hot spots. Starting Wednesday, those hot spots will allow second dose re-bookings for people who had their first shot on or before May 30.
The health unit says more than 20,000 second-dose bookings and re-bookings were recorded on Wednesday alone, a new single-day record.
“We know there are thousands more who will book over the next few days, and then we’ll look over the weekend about whether we can open up any further than that with an announcement on Monday,” Mackie said about further extensions to the second-dose eligibility date.
The race to get shots into arms comes as public health officials continue to track the more contagious Delta variant, which is expected to become the dominant strain of COVID-19 over the summer, according to the province.
“We absolutely need people to continue to get their first doses of vaccinations. We want to get that up to at least 90 per cent. We’re at just over 72 per cent as of Friday,” Mackie said.
“And, we all need to look at second-dose options right now. With the Delta variant, we’re seeing more and more need for second doses. It’s very clear that you need two doses to be fully protected.”
Mackie said it remained to be seen how the announcement made earlier in the day by the federal government will be felt locally. It was unveiled that Canada would receive a donation of one million Moderna doses from the U.S. on Thursday.
“It takes time for those international announcements to make it through the national allocation process to the provinces, and then the provincial allocation process to the health units,” Mackie said, adding he hoped more information would come through a scheduled evening call with the ministry.
Starting on Monday, the health unit says it will open pop-up community clinics at select schools in the city and county to make it easier for youth and their families who haven’t been able to get a first dose of vaccine to get one.
Appointments for the pop-ups will be available to students and families of the select schools starting Thursday, and to others in the community starting Saturday. Some walk-in appointments will also be available.
At least 10 schools are slated to take part in the pop-up clinic initiative so far and more may be added. Each of the one-day clinics will run from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and will be able to vaccinate roughly 350 people.
Mackie says the health unit is providing notice to the families of those schools first as to where the clinics will be held.
Meanwhile, those looking to get a COVID-19 test have several options.
Ontario reported 370 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and seven more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 67 new cases in Toronto, 57 in Waterloo, and 47 in Peel Region. There were also 34 new cases in Ottawa and 27 in York Region.
The data is based on nearly 30,500 completed tests.
The Ministry of Health said 397 people are in hospital because of the novel coronavirus — 362 in intensive care.
Ontario said 210,611 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Wednesday’s report, a new record high. A total of more than 11.9 million doses have been administered in the province.
Elgin and Oxford
Four new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,847, of which 3,737 have resolved, three more than the day before. Eighty-three virus-related deaths have been reported so far, most recently on Tuesday.
The health unit says 27 cases are active. At least 10 are in Woodstock and nine are in St. Thomas. Two people from Elgin-Oxford are hospitalized with COVID-19, but neither are in the ICU.
The number of variant cases in the region stands at 782, according to data from the health unit.
Of the variant cases, 735 involve the Alpha variant (previously B.1.1.7), while 46 involve either the Beta (B.1.351) or Gamma (P.1) variants, and one the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant.
The health unit says the combined Beta/Gamma tally is because “based on the mutation screening results alone, we cannot differentiate between Beta and Gamma variants, so they have been combined into one category.”
Positive case samples undergo initial screening for spike protein mutations consistent with one or more variants, and then undergo genomic analysis to confirm the exact variant involved. Some variants share the same mutations.
In the case of Alpha, however, it has only been associated with one specific mutation, N501Y. When a case is found to be positive during initial screening for just N501Y, it is presumed to be Alpha and does not undergo further analysis.
“There is currently no screening tool available for the Delta variant, so we are only able to report confirmed Delta variant cases,” the health unit says.
Residents of any eligible age who received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose on or before May 9 can re-book their second dose for an earlier date.
Residents can do so via the online booking portal or by phone at 1-800-922-0096 ext. 9.
Other certain individuals are also able to book earlier second doses. They are asked to call 226-289-3560.
SWPH says those aged 18-plus who received either mRNA vaccine as their first can take either as their second, while people who received AstraZeneca can choose from all three, provided they are eligible under the eight-week interval.
First doses are also continuing for residents aged 12 and older. Youth are eligible only for the Pfizer shot.
Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site to make a first-dose appointment. The health unit is also still encouraging people to add their names to a same-day vaccination list.
Several pharmacies in the region are also continuing to offer Pfizer and Moderna shots. Bookings must be made directly with the pharmacies.
There have been no changes when it comes to schools and institutional outbreaks. No school-related cases and no such outbreaks are active.
Per-municipality case counts can be found on the health unit’s dashboard.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.9 per cent as of the week of June 6, virtually unchanged from the week before.
Huron and Perth
Six new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Huron-Perth.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 1,872, of which 1,795 have resolved, an increase of six from the day before. Fifty-seven virus-related deaths have been reported, most recently on May 20.
At least 20 cases are currently active in the region and one person is hospitalized.
The number of variant cases and cases that have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant stands at 302. Six are active.
At least 155 cases involve the Alpha variant, according to Public Health Ontario, while six involve the Delta variant and five the Gamma variant. The remaining cases are likely still under genomic analysis.
Anyone who received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 9 can re-book their second appointment. Other certain individuals are also able to re-book an earlier second dose.
Health officials say those aged 18 and older whose first dose was Pfizer can have Moderna or Pfizer as their second.
Those who had AstraZeneca as their first shot can choose it, Moderna or Pfizer as the second dose. For AstraZeneca, the interval between first and second doses is eight weeks.
The health unit says those looking for an mRNA vaccine as their second dose can book an appointment at a vaccination clinic, while for AstraZeneca, appointments should be made through a pharmacy or primary care provider who has that vaccine.
More information on second dose re-bookings can be found on the health unit website.
For first doses, people aged 12 and older are eligible, with youth able to get the Pfizer shot. More information can be found on the health unit’s website.
More than 89,231 people have gotten at least one dose, or about 73.4 per cent of Huron-Perth residents, as of June 14. More than 17,500 have received both necessary shots, or about 14.4 per cent.
The health unit says one outbreak remains active in the region, located at Knollcrest Lodge in Perth East involving three staff members.
Case counts by municipality can be found on the health unit dashboard.
The region’s test positivity rate was 1.2 per cent as of the week of June 6, up slightly from 0.9 per cent the week prior.
Sarnia and Lambton
One new COVID-19 case has been reported in Lambton County.
It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,553, of which 3,469 have resolved, three more than the day before. At least 62 virus-related deaths have been reported, most recently on Tuesday.
Twenty-two cases are currently active. Seven COVID-19 patients were listed in the care of Bluewater Health on Thursday, one more than the day before.
The region’s variant case tally stands at 621, the health unit says, an increase of one.
Public Health Ontario reports that 411 cases involve the Alpha variant, while 17 cases have been confirmed to be the Gamma variant and four the Delta variant.
The status of the remaining cases is unclear.
All residents aged 65 and older can re-book their second dose at an earlier interval, along with people of any age 12 and up, whose first dose was on or before May 5.
Residents who got the AstraZeneca shot, and who meet the aforementioned criteria, may also book a second dose appointment for an mRNA vaccine, the health unit says.
Those eligible are asked to book their second-dose appointments using the health unit’s registration page. People can also call the vaccine call centre at 226-254-8222.
First doses are ongoing for all residents aged 12 and older, with youth able to get the Pfizer shot. Eligible residents can book appointments through the health unit website.
Some pharmacies are also continuing to offer Pfizer or Moderna shots.
The health unit says more than 98,647 doses of vaccine have been administered to Lambton residents, meaning about 71 per cent of adults and 16 per cent of youth have gotten at least one dose.
There has been no change when it comes to outbreaks. One remains active at Bkejwanong Children’s Centre involving three cases.
The region’s main school boards have paused public reporting during remote learning, so no new data has been available for school-related cases.
The region’s positivity rate was 1.4 per cent the week of May 30, about the same as a week earlier. Updated numbers are expected this week.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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