Health officials in London and Middlesex County reported 12 new cases of the coronavirus cases Thursday.
The update brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 6,230, of which 5,932 are resolved. The total number of cases from the day before increased by 11; the MLHU data shows that a case from North Middlesex was reassigned to another health unit.
The total number of deaths in the region is 184. The most recent death, reported Wednesday, was a woman in her 80s not associated with a long-term care or retirement home.
At least 184 cases are active in London-Middlesex.
As of Monday, the region is under the orange-restrict level of Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 response framework.
At least 12 variant cases have been confirmed in the region, according to the health unit. At least four have been found to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the U.K. The others are still being investigated.
Last week, projections from the province’s science advisory group found that more infectious variants would likely make up 40 per cent of cases by the second week of March.
The region’s seven-day case average stood at 13.6 as of Wednesday.
At least 5,432 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 248 have been in Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, 206 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 96 in Thames Centre, 54 in Lucan Biddulph, 37 in Southwest Middlesex, 32 in North Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.
At least 109 cases have pending location information.
Six inpatients were in the hospital with COVID-19 London Health Sciences Centre reported on Thursday.
Fewer than five patients are in critical or intensive care and fewer than five staff cases are active, also unchanged from the day before.
At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, officials reported no COVID-19 patients in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital Thursday.
However, the organization has two staff cases active as of Thursday, two less than the previous update. The two active cases are outbreak-related.
An outbreak at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care in its MV2 area has now been resolved.
At least 358 people have been hospitalized in the region during the pandemic, including 66 in intensive care. That is an increase of three patients, one of which is in the ICU.
One new institutional outbreak has been declared while one has been deemed resolved, the health unit says.
A new outbreak was declared on Tuesday on the fourth floor of Dearness Home.
Five outbreaks remain active at local seniors’ facilities.
Active outbreaks (as of March 2) at seniors' facilities, as declared on:
- Mar. 2 at Dearness Home (4E/4W)
- Feb. 28 at Richmond Woods (facility)
- Feb. 24 at Chartwell Royalcliffe Retirement Residence (facility)
- Feb. 19 at Peoplecare Oak Crossing (Norway Spruce – third floor)
- Feb. 13 at Dearness Home (3 East)
Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains active at the city’s jail.
The outbreak at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre was declared on Jan. 18 and has been associated with at least 56 cases involving 29 staff members and 27 inmates.
Provincial data shows at least three inmate cases were listed as active as of Saturday. Similar data for staff cases was not available.
One new case has been reported by the Thames Valley District School Board at Bonaventure Public School.
Two new cases were reported in London and Middlesex Wednesday, one each at Saunders Secondary School and Arthur Carty Catholic School.
The number of cases at Arthur Carty Catholic School dropped by one to four on Thursday according to the London District Catholic School Board website.
Elsewhere, there are two cases each at Central Public School and Northbrae Public School, the TVDSB reported. Prince Charles Public School, Saunders Secondary School and St. John French Immersion School all have one case each.
In all, at least 220 school and child-care cases have been reported during the pandemic thus far.
As of Thursday, two child-care centre cases were active.
They’re located at Little Acorns Early Childhood Learning Centre – London Bridge and Stoneybrook Early Childhood Learning Centre – London Bridge, the health unit said.
Vaccinations and testing
Between Feb. 22 and Feb. 28 the Middlesex London Health Unit reported 6,615 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered, totalling 33,340 doses since the vaccine campaign began.
Local health officials announced Monday that more priority groups identified under Phase 1 of the province’s three-phase vaccine rollout were now eligible to get first doses.
Among them are “very high priority” health-care workers, as defined by the province, along with Indigenous adults 55 and older and members of the community 80 years old and older.
Appointment bookings for Indigenous adults opened on Monday, while bookings for those 80 and over opened Tuesday morning.
Due to ongoing uncertainty about vaccine supply, the health unit says it is not booking more than two weeks in advance. Appointment bookings open at 8 a.m. but slots are expected to fill up quickly.
Bookings can be made via the local online system covidvaccinelm.ca or by calling 226-289-3560 between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. seven days a week for slots at the Western Fair District Agriplex and the Caradoc Community Centre vaccination clinics.
A full list of the groups currently eligible to receive the vaccine can be found on the health unit’s website.
The MLHU is currently using a local immunization booking system. The province is set to launch its own on March 15, but local officials say the province has asked health units doing their own online bookings to continue doing so for the time being.
During Monday’s briefing, Mackie said the health unit has a roadmap to get to 10,000 vaccines administered per day, but such numbers aren’t expected to be achieved for several months yet.
“The reality is we don’t expect that any time before late spring or early summer at the earliest,” he added, noting between 1,000 and 2,000 per day is where capacity will likely stay in the short term.
In addition, only two mass vaccination clinics are open in the region, with two more planned, including one set to open sometime this month.
Three vaccines are currently authorized for use in Canada: those by Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech.
Asked whether members of the public would be able to choose their vaccine, Mackie said the health unit’s strong recommendation is to be vaccinated with whatever vaccine is offered.
“We have three very good vaccines. It’s true there’s some difference in effectiveness, but any one of those vaccines is far better than not getting vaccinated at all,” he said.
Oxford-AstraZeneca reported about 62 per cent effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 while Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have said the efficacy of their vaccines is about 95 per cent.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended that the Oxford-AstraZeneca not be used for people 65 and over due to concern about limited data on how it will work in older populations, even after Health Canada authorized its use last week for all adults.
Ontario’s health minister, Christine Elliott, says the province won’t administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to seniors.
Elliott says the vaccine could more easily be used in sites like correctional facilities because it does not need to be stored at the same cold temperatures as other vaccines already in use.
The region’s two main assessment centres, located at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.7 per cent as of the week of Feb. 21, down from 0.8 per cent the week before.
At least 10,158 people were tested the week of Feb. 21 compared to 9,730 a week earlier.
Ontario is reporting 994 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 304,757.
Thursday’s case count is slightly higher than Wednesday’s which saw 958 new infections — however, there were more tests processed on Thursday. On Tuesday, 966 cases were recorded and 1,023 on Monday.
According to Thursday’s provincial report, 298 cases were recorded in Toronto, 171 in Peel Region and 64 in York Region.
All other local public health units reported fewer than 50 new cases in the provincial report.
The death toll in the province has risen to 7,024 as 10 more deaths were recorded.
Elgin and Oxford
Four new coronavirus cases were reported by Southwestern Public Health Wednesday and a COVID-19 variant has been found in two residents.
Both cases of the new variant live within a single residence and are now considered resolved. The health unit said it is believed that the virus was acquired through out-of-country travel.
The health unit said the impact of the variant of concern (VOC) in the region has yet to be determined but may affect the rate of transmission, severity of illness, and/or the COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness to protect against it.
“Our team is providing enhanced follow-up and increased vigilance to do our best to avoid a VOC from entering high priority settings like congregate living, health-care settings, schools, or large essential workplaces,” says Dr. Joyce Lock, medical officer of health.
“COVID-19 is still with us and we do not want these variants to get a foothold in our region and reverse all of your hard work.”
The region’s pandemic case tally is at 2,554, of which 2,404 have resolved, an increase of five from the day before.
At least 67 local people have died during the pandemic, the health unit says. The most recent death was reported on Feb. 20.
Eighty-three cases are listed as being active in the region as of Thursday.
Of those, 58 are in Aylmer. The town has seen a major outbreak at the Ontario Police College, with as many as 65 cases confirmed overall as of Sunday night.
Elsewhere, at least nine cases are active in Woodstock, while 10 other municipalities have six or fewer cases.
The region moved into the orange-restrict level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework on Monday.
In an interview with 980 CFPL’s Mike Stubbs on Tuesday, Dr. Lock revealed that Southwestern Public Health had received approval to use St. Thomas-Elgin Memorial Centre as a mass vaccination clinic.
“I expect to get approval for another location in Woodstock shortly,” she said.
“We’ve also received our first ultra-low-temperature freezer. Woodstock EMS kindly let us use one of their locations, and it’s going through the final stages just to make sure the temperatures are all right. We’re getting another one on loan from St. Thomas-Elgin General hospital.”
Lock also noted that the health unit was set to see its first local allocation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine somewhere during the week of March 15.
In the meantime, a coronavirus case was confirmed on Monday at Central Public School in Woodstock, the board says.
It comes in addition to a separate active case at the school that was reported on Feb. 19. The two cases are the only ones linked to schools in Elgin and Oxford.
One outbreak linked to one resident case at Bethany Care Home in Norwich was declared on March 2.
An outbreak at the Aylmer Retirement Residence, declared on Feb. 17, linked to one resident case and one death, is now resolved.
The health unit says a total of 499 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 432 have been in St. Thomas, 425 in Aylmer and 336 in Tillsonburg.
Elsewhere, 202 cases have been in Norwich, 162 in Bayham, 115 in Ingersoll, 105 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 55 in Zorra, 55 in Blandford-Blenheim, 46 in South-West Oxford, 45 in Central Elgin, 25 in Southwold, 23 in Dutton/Dunwich, 20 in West Elgin and eight in Malahide.
The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.5 per cent as of the week of Feb. 14, compared to 0.8 the week before.
At least 4,470 people were tested the week of Feb. 14, down slightly from 4,513 a week earlier.
Huron and Perth
Huron Perth Public Health reported seven new cases and no new recoveries on Thursday.
It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,345, of which 1,272 have resolved.
At least 50 people have died during the pandemic. The most recent death was reported on Monday involving a resident of Seaforth Manor Nursing Home, which had been experiencing an outbreak until this week.
The update leaves at least 23 active cases in the region. The last time the region has seen an active case tally this low was at the start of November, health unit figures show.
At least 11 cases are active in Stratford, three in Perth East and two each in ACW, Perth South and Huron East. Three other municipalities have one active case each.
The region moved into the yellow-protect level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework on Monday.
On the local vaccination front, the health unit says it will be opening a public booking system “in the days ahead.”
It adds that when booking opens, the health unit will be “communicating this information widely” through providers, its own website, print, radio, local news and social media. Clinics in its jurisdiction will begin “early to mid-March” with details available soon.
No new outbreaks have been declared and none have been resolved.
One outbreak remains active at Seaforth Manor’s retirement home, linked to 12 resident cases and one staff case.
The health unit says one outbreak remains active at an unspecified congregate living setting.
Meantime, no new school cases were reported in the region.
One case remains active at Jeanne Sauvé Catholic Elementary School in Stratford, according to the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.
Health unit figures show at least 548 cases have been reported in Perth County during the pandemic, including 344 in North Perth and 138 in Perth East.
Elsewhere, 446 cases have been reported in Huron County, including 99 in South Huron and 98 in Huron East, while at least 319 cases have been reported in Stratford and 32 in St. Marys.
Officials reported last week that the local test positivity rate stood at 0.7 per cent the week of Feb. 14, down from 0.9 a week earlier.
Roughly 2,862 people were tested the week of Feb. 14, down from 3,377 the week before.
Sarnia and Lambton
Forty-seven new coronavirus cases were reported on Thursday along with six new recoveries. No new deaths have been confirmed in Lambton County.
The new case brings the region’s pandemic tally to 2,163, of which 2,011 have resolved.
At least 46 people have died. The most recent death was reported on Feb. 17.
At least 106 cases are active in the county as of Thursday the health unit says. Three people are currently in hospital at Bluewater Health with COVID-19, while 46 are in hospital with COVID-19 tests pending.
The region is staying in red-control of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework this week.
Lambton Public Health (LPH) is opening COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration for individuals who are 90 years of age and older Thursday. Immunization clinics for this group will begin on Saturday, March 6 and continue through the week of March 8 by appointment only.
To pre-register for a vaccination people can go to http://getthevaccine.ca/register.
Lambton Public Health also has a call centre on standby to assist with registrations. The call centre is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 519-383-8331. All eligible Lambton residents who pre-register will be called to confirm an appointment at one of two fixed-site clinics in Point Edward or Forest.
The health unit is expecting a high volume of calls and said the most efficient way for those who are eligible to sign up is by pre-registering via the online system.
“We are excited to begin administering vaccinations to this group,” said Dr. Sudit Ranade, Medical Officer of Health for Lambton County.
“Together with our partners, Lambton Public Health’s number one priority is to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as we can. Vaccine supply is changing and we are confident deliveries will be larger and more consistent in the coming weeks.”
Caregivers who reside in the same household as an individual age 90 or older may also pre-register for the vaccine starting Thursday. Each individual can identify up to one in-home caregiver.
“Every public health region is at different stages in the rollout of the vaccine to prioritized groups identified under the Provincial guidance and phases,” said Dr. Ranade.
“While you wait to be vaccinated, please be kind and patient with one another as the rollout for our region moves forward based on vaccine supply. LPH and our partners are working tirelessly for this community, and will continue to do so until as many residents are immunized as possible.”
On Feb. 25, 1,200 Moderna doses were received, which were distributed via the Mobile Immunization Team.
The team has been administering followup doses to the first priority groups in Lambton, including for long-term care residents, high-risk retirement home residents, and those in Indigenous Elder Care Homes — a process set to finish by March 12, the health unit says.
The county saw 3,500 new Pfizer doses arrive on Monday, doses that are set to be doled out at one of the three fixed vaccination clinics in Lambton beginning this week. The vaccines will be administered to staff and essential caregivers of long-term care and retirement homes by invitation only.
The health unit notes the vaccination clinics are operating on an invitation-only basis right now, but will be open to additional priority groups in the future.
Meanwhile, no outbreaks have been declared or resolved.
Six outbreaks remain active, including three at seniors’ facilities, one at a shelter, one at Sarnia’s jail and one at a workplace.
The active seniors’ facility outbreaks were declared on:
- Feb. 24 at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia (three staff cases)
- Feb. 19 at Twin Lakes Terrace in Sarnia (one staff case)
- Feb. 10 at Country Manor Estates in Lambton Shores (two resident, one staff case)
The shelter outbreak is located at Good Shepherd’s Lodge in Sarnia and is tied to eight cases involving five residents and three staff.
The jail outbreak was declared on Feb. 7 and has been linked to 47 inmate and five staff cases, data unchanged from the day before.
One workplace outbreak, declared Feb. 25, is also active in the region, associated with eight cases. Few details have been released.
Elsewhere, 15 school cases remain active in the region:
- Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School (1 case)
- Lambton Central Collegiate & Vocational Institute (1 case)
- King George VI Public School Sarnia (1 case)
- Colonel Cameron Public School (1 case)
- Gregory A. Hogan Catholic School (2 cases)
- Holy Rosary Catholic School (two cases)
- Northern Collegiate Institute & Vocational School (1 case)
- North Lambton Secondary School (3 cases)
- Queen Elizabeth II Public School – Sarnia (1 case)
- St. Joseph Catholic School (2 cases)
At least 1.9 per cent of tests came back positive as of the week of Feb. 14, according to the health unit. At least 3,733 people were tested.
— With files from Matthew Trevithick, Gabby Rodrigues, and The Canadian Press