COVID-19: 1 death, 87 cases in London-Middlesex; same day vaccination list launches in Elgin-Oxford

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COVID-19: 1 death, 87 cases in London-Middlesex; same day vaccination list launches in Elgin-Oxford

Jump to: Hospitalizations – Outbreaks – Schools – Vaccinations and Testing – Ontario – Elgin and Oxford – Huron and Perth – Sarnia and Lambton

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One death and 87 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in London and Middlesex, local health officials reported on Friday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 10,991, of which 9,870 have resolved, an increase of 78 from the day before.

At least 207 deaths have been reported during the pandemic. The most recent death involved a man in his 90s who was not associated with a long-term care or retirement home.

Seven deaths have been reported so far this month, including three on Thursday, one involving an 18-year-old man.

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Details about the young man’s death are still limited, but health officials said Thursday that the individual “declined very quickly” and died the same day he arrived in hospital after going into respiratory distress.

It’s unclear whether the man had any underlying health conditions, but Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, noted deaths involving people so young has been rare.

“There are many sort of undiagnosed immune system differences between people that could have been playing a factor here. We don’t have full information,” he said.

The health unit says at least 914 cases are active in London-Middlesex as of Friday.

At least 504 cases have been reported since the start of May, about 140 fewer than the same period in April. The region’s rolling seven-day case average stands at 86.7, down from 94.8 the seven days previous.

Of the 87 new cases Friday, 85 are from London, while two are spread across Middlesex County.

Continuing a trend seen for more than a month, those infected skew younger. People under 30 account for nearly 50 per cent of cases, with people in their 20s, in particular, accounting for 34 per cent.

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Ten cases are 19 or younger; 30 are in their 20s; 15 are in their 30s; 11 are in their 40s; 14 are in their 50s; two are in their 60s; three are in their 70s; and two are 80 or older.

Close contact accounts for 36 cases, while 17 have no known link, seven are due to outbreak, and one is due to travel. At least 26 cases have pending or undetermined exposure source data.

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The number of variant cases recorded in the region rose by 65 on Friday, to a total of at least 1,728.

All but one of the 65 cases involves the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. The other case involves the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil, the health unit said.

Nearly all of the region’s confirmed/presumed* variant cases, 1,654 have involved the B.1.1.7 variant.

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Nine have involved the P.1 variant, and one, reported earlier this week, the B.1.617 variant, was first detected 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 (N501Y, E484K and K417N), and if found to have one or more, undergo further genomic analysis to determine the specific variant involved (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 separate tally from the health unit shows at least 279 cases in the region have screened positive for a spike protein mutation that is consistent with one or more variants.

At least 143 of them are in the process of genomic analysis, as they screened positive for the E484K mutation.

Another 131 cases were initially found to have just the N501Y mutation, but since they have not been ruled out for E484K, they are not being presumed B.1.1.7 yet, and added to the main variant tally. It’s unclear if or when the cases may be added.

Confirmed/presumed variant cases and screened mutation positive cases in London-Middlesex as of April 7, 2021. Middlesex-London Health Unit

During Thursday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie said COVID-19, the variants in particular, continue to be a major problem in London-Middlesex and across the province.

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“We really aren’t seeing much spread of the original COVID virus. The bad news is that this new virus does spread more easily, and that is a big reason why we’re seeing the (case) drop slower than the other waves,” he said.

It’s too early to say whether the province’s stay-at-home order will need to be extended, he said, but noted it was certainly possible.

Mackie highlighted that the current rate of decline in cases would mean at least another four weeks to get down to 1,000 cases/day province wide — around the same rate seen when Ontario emerged from the second wave.

“The positive we have is that the death count is staying low. The other major risk, though, beyond cases, is ICU capacity. We’re just beginning to see that, I would say, level off in terms of the cases on ICU,” he continued.

“If the government really wants to avoid using that triage protocol where people who need ICU wouldn’t be able to access ICU because they are full, then I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an extension of the stay-at-home order for some time. All of that is still, from my perspective, very much up in the air.”

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A total of 9,780 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 341 have been in Middlesex Centre.

Elsewhere, 316 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 142 in Thames Centre, 69 in Lucan Biddulph, 56 in North Middlesex, 53 in Southwest Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.

At least 129 cases have pending location information.

Hospitalizations

As many as 94 COVID-19 patients were in the care of London Health Sciences Centre on Friday, a decrease of two from the day before, and five from the record 99 seen on Wednesday.

However, 43 of those patients are in intensive care, one more than the day before.

LHSC says at least 34 of the 94 COVID-19 patients in their care, including 24 of the 43 people in the ICU, are patients transferred in from the Toronto area.

At least eight staff cases are active, LHSC says, a decline of two from the day before.

St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meanwhile, reported no COVID-19 patients in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital Friday.

At least five staff cases were active within the organization as of April 26, its most recent update. It’s not clear where within SJHCL the staff work.

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More details are expected Monday about the pandemic’s ongoing impacts on the local hospital system.

LHSC, like several other hospitals in the region, including St. Thomas and Stratford, have been receiving patients from hard-hit Toronto-area hospitals to keep them from becoming overwhelmed.

To deal with the surge, LHSC has opened at least 25 additional critical care beds over the last several weeks, and has cut its surgical volume in half to free up space and staffing resources.

At least three of the additional critical care beds are in Children’s Hospital’s pediatric critical care unit. Adult patients were in the unit as of Monday, but officials would not say how many, citing privacy.

Institutional outbreaks

Another outbreak has been declared at a local seniors’ facility, the health unit said.

The most recent outbreak was declared late Thursday at Kensington Village Retirement in its Canterbury area.

It’s among six outbreaks active at local facilities.

An outbreak is also currently active in Kensington Village’s long-term care home, specifically its first floor.

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Elsewhere, three outbreaks are active at Glendale Crossing in its Glanworth, Lambeth, and Westminster areas, and one outbreak is active at Dearness Home in its 5 East area.

It’s unclear how many cases are linked to each facility. Unlike neighbouring health units, MLHU has not made that information public during the pandemic.

At least 820 cases and 107 deaths have been linked to long-term care and retirement homes during the pandemic.

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Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak is also active at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

The outbreak has been active since Jan. 18, and has seen at least 62 inmate cases and 43 staff cases reported in that time.

As of Wednesday, at least three inmate cases were active, an increase of two from Tuesday, the most recent provincial data shows.

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Outbreaks also remain active at one Western residence and two child-care facilities. Those details can be found below.

It’s unclear if any other non-institutional outbreaks or workplace outbreaks are active in the region, as MLHU only reports outbreaks in settings such as child-care, education, and health-care.

Schools

No new school cases have been reported.

Only one is active, located at Sir Arthur Currie Public School. The case was reported late Wednesday by the Thames Valley District School Board.

At least 351 cases have been reported involving local elementary and secondary schools during the pandemic.

Earlier this week, the Thames Valley District School Board announced that parents and guardians now had until June 1 to decide whether their child should learn in-person or remotely next year.

Dr. Chris Mackie said Thursday that he was recommending parents choose in-person learning, citing the low rate of COVID-19 in students locally, and recent news involving the vaccine and children.

This week, Health Canada authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people aged 12 to 15.

“We don’t have information on timing there. We haven’t got provincial direction yet around how children should be prioritized relative to other groups. But hopefully by the fall we can start vaccinating children as young as 12,” Mackie said.

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Cases in the local child-care sector continue to decline, with seven active as of Friday, down from 14 the day before.

At least five cases are linked to London Bridge: Rowntree Park Early Childhood Learning Centre. An outbreak declaration is also active there.

The facility has been closed until at least the end of next week, an official with London Bridge told Global News last week.

Elsewhere, one case each is active involving Angels Daycares Komoka and Glen Cairn Child Care, the health unit says. An outbreak declaration is still active at Angels Daycares.

In the post-secondary world, meanwhile, one student residence remains active at Western University.

The outbreak, declared April 8 at Perth Hall, has been tied to at least 31 cases, according to the health unit.

Eight student residence outbreaks have been reported at Western since late March, linked to a total of at least 196 cases.

Vaccinations and Testing

The London-Middlesex region has seen more than 190,000 vaccine doses administered, and is expected to surpass 200,000 on Saturday.

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The tally includes doses handed out through mass vaccination clinics, mobile clinics, pharmacies, and primary care settings.

Roughly 22,000 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered locally at pharmacies and around 6,000 through primary care settings.

As of Thursday, all people 50 and older are eligible to get the vaccine, along with people who are turning 50 this year.

As well, people who fall under first of two provincially designated groups of essential workers who can’t work from home are also now able to book a spot.

That’s in addition to the various groups who have previously been identified as being vaccine eligible, including people 16 and older with certain highest-risk and high-risk health conditions, and Indigenous people 16 and older.

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 mass vaccination clinics. Online appointments are encouraged due to the high call volume.

People 40 and older are eligible to get the AstraZeneca shot through some local pharmacies as part of the province-run program. Residents are asked to book a spot with the pharmacies themselves.

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The province’s updated vaccine timeline, released last week, aims to have all Ontarians 18 and older eligible as of the week of May 24.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Wednesday the province will soon expand its rollout to include 12 to 15-year-olds after Health Canada authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for that age group.

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Three mass vaccination clinics remain in operation in London-Middlesex, but with an expected bump in vaccine doses this month and next, officials expect to open the fourth this month at Earl Nichols Arena. A date for its opening will be released next week.

Ontario is expecting to receive large vaccine shipments soon, mostly from Pfizer. The province is set to receive over four million of those doses in May and more than 3.7 million in June.

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Ontario is also now expecting an additional shipment of approximately 388,000 Moderna doses in May. A shipment of 116,000 Johnson & Johnson shots is also expected to arrive in May, and the province said it will share more information on use of that vaccine soon.

Mackie said the health unit did not have any plans to open a 24-hour vaccination clinic, despite the expected increase in vaccines and the jump in the number of people eligible to get the shot.

“We really don’t have a need for 24 hour vaccinations right now. We run 12 hour clinics seven days a week. We haven’t had any complaints about hours of of clinics being an access issue,” he said.

Mackie said staffing challenges, mainly around recruiting people for supervisor positions, is also a main stumbling block in opening an all-day clinic.

“Although there are lots of vaccinators, and we can add vaccine capacity to have higher flow clinics as we need, and we do, we can’t really add shifts very easily because that requires additional supervisory capacity, which is really scarce.”

The health unit also also burning through its allotted vaccine as quickly as its coming in, he said.

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Those looking to get tested for COVID-19 can still visit the region’s two main assessment centres, at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, which remain open and operating by appointment.

Ontario

Ontario is reporting 3,166 new cases of COVID-19 today and 23 more deaths linked to the virus.

The Ministry of Health says that due to a technical issue with the laboratory data feed, today’s case count may be under-reported.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 876 new cases in Toronto, 817 in Peel Region, and 300 in York Region.

She says there are also 205 new cases in Durham Region and 148 in Hamilton.

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Today’s data is based on more than 51,300 completed tests.

The province says 1,924 people are hospitalized because of the novel coronavirus, 858 are in intensive care, and 611 people are on a ventilator.

Ontario says that 144,724 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Thursday’s report, for a total of 5.8 million doses.

Elgin and Oxford

Nineteen new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford, officials with Southwestern Public Health said Friday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,509, of which 3,311 have resolved, an increase of 14 from the day before. At least 76 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 23.

At least 122 cases are active in the region, with 30 in Tillsonburg, 28 in St. Thomas, and 25 in Woodstock, the health unit says.

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At least 15 people from SWPH are in hospital as of Friday, with six of them in intensive care.

The number of variant cases, and cases which have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 536, an increase of 13 from the day before. At least 88 are active.

At least 480 of the cases have either been confirmed to be or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., while two cases have been confirmed to be the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.

(If a case is found to have just one specific spike protein mutation, N501Y, during initial screening, the case is presumed to be B.1.1.7 and is not sent for further genomic analysis. The reason being that particular variant has only been linked to that mutation.)

At least 64 cases have screened positive for the E484K spike protein mutation, which has been associated with the P.1 variant, and the B.1.351 variant, first detected in South Africa. Those cases are undergoing genomic analysis.

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Have you not had your first vaccine shot yet? Could you get to a mass vaccination clinic in SWPH within half an hour at the last minute?

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If so, the health unit says it wants to hear from you.

Officials with SWPH say they have launched a weekly “Same Day Vaccination List” in an effort to obtain the names of vaccine-eligible people they could call to fill a freed-up appointment slot at the last minute.

Residents will need to provide their name, contact information, date of birth, and preferred location, as well as the days they are available to get themselves to a clinic within 30 minutes of a phone call from the health unit.

“Once they are on the list, SWPH will call on a first-come, first-served basis when doses become available as the week goes on,” read a health unit release.

The list will reset on a weekly basis, meaning people will need to add their names again each Monday for that week.

“There are no guarantees, but based on what we have seen to-date, we do anticipate that every day we’ll call people from the list to come in for a shot. This may result in getting a vaccine weeks ahead of a previously scheduled appointment,” said Jaime Fletcher, program manager of SWPH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, in a statement.

Those interested can sign up on the health unit website.

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People 50 and older, and people turning 50 this year, are currently eligible for the vaccine, as are residents who fall under Group 1 of essential workers who can’t work from home, and people who fall under previously identified eligible groups.

People in the N5H postal code, centered around Aylmer, are eligible if they are 18 or older. The region is a designated COVID-19 hot spot. People from N5H must show proof of age and address at the vaccination clinic.

Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment.

Roughly 70,000 SWPH residents have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, about 32 per cent of the total population.

Vaccinations are also ongoing at some local pharmacies for people 40 and older as part of the provincial pilot program. Appointments must be made with the pharmacy itself.

No new institutional outbreaks have been declared. Two are active.

An outbreak at Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital has seen four additional patient cases and two additional staff cases reported since the previous day, for a total of seven and four, respectively.

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At Caressant Care Nursing Home in Woodstock, four residents and five staff have tested positive, an increase of one resident case from the day before.

Elsewhere, no new school cases were reported by the Thames Valley or London District Catholic school boards.

The health unit says at least 769 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, followed by 644 in St. Thomas, 506 in Aylmer, and 438 in Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, at least 232 have been in Norwich Township, while 183 have been in Bayham, 170 in Ingersoll, 135 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 87 in Central Elgin, 83 in Blandford-Blenheim, 75 in Zorra, 66 in South-West Oxford, 45 in Dutton/Dunwich, 29 in Southwold, 28 in West Elgin, and 18 in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 3.2 per cent as of the week of April 25, figures released this week show. The figure is down from 3.5 the week prior.

Huron and Perth

Eleven new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Huron-Perth, local health officials said Friday.

The increase brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,614, an increase of 10 from the day before. Officials said one previously confirmed case was reassigned to a different health unit.

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At least 1,519 cases have resolved, an increase of seven from the day before, while at least 53 deaths have been reported, most recently on Monday.

The health unit said five of Friday’s cases were reported in Stratford, while three were in Perth East, two in Perth South, and one in Howick.

Forty-two cases are active in Huron-Perth, with at least 10 of them in Stratford and nine in North Perth. At least one person is in hospital, the health unit says.

The number of variant cases, and cases which have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 125, an increase of 10 from the day before. At least 22 variant cases are active.

At least 68 of the cases either been confirmed to be or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.

(If a case is found to have just one specific spike protein mutation, N501Y, during initial screening, the case is presumed to be B.1.1.7 and is not sent for further genomic analysis. The reason being that particular variant has only been linked to that mutation.)

Details of the remaining 57 cases is limited, but its likely they have either: a) tested positive for a different mutation consistent with different variants and are still undergoing genomic testing, or b) they initially screened positive for just N501Y, but have not had other mutations ruled out yet.

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More than 51,400 people from Huron-Perth have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, the health unit says.

As of Thursday, people 50 and older, and people turning 50 this year, are now eligible, as are residents who fall under Group 1 of essential workers who can’t work from home, as defined by the province.

Those looking to book an appointment are asked to do so via the local booking system or by calling 1-833-753-2098.

As of Friday, spots were available for May 25-29, June 1-5, June 7-12, and June 12-19.

More information on the local vaccine campaign and eligibility can be found on the health unit’s website.

Elsewhere, several local pharmacies are still offering vaccine doses of AstraZeneca. Bookings should be done with the pharmacies themselves.

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No new school cases have been reported. Four are currently active in the region. Lists can be found on the websites of the Avon-Maitland District School Board and the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.

One outbreak remains active at a long-term care home. Declared on April 30 at Fordwich Village in Howick, the outbreak is linked to two staff cases.

Elsewhere, two outbreaks are active at unnamed workplaces, while one is active at an unnamed congregate living setting, the health unit says.

A total of 641 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 398 in North Perth and 148 in Perth East, while 530 have been reported in Huron County, with 116 in South Huron and 107 in Huron East.

Stratford has reported at least 404 in total, while St. Marys has seen 39.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.0 per cent the week of April 25, about the same as the week before.

Sarnia and Lambton

Fourteen new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lambton County, health officials said Friday.

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It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,310, of which 3,165 have resolved, an increase of nine from the previous day. At least 56 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 24.

Eighty-nine cases are active, the health unit says. At least 13 COVID-19 patients are in the care of Bluewater Health, down one from the day before.

Provincial data shows at least 10 were in the ICU on Wednesday, all on ventilators.

The number of variant cases, and cases which have screened positive for a mutation consistent with a variant, stands at 439, an increase of 24 from the day before.

At least 298 of the cases either been confirmed to be or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., according to Public Health Ontario. One case has been confirmed to be the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.

Note on the presumption of B.1.1.7 cases:

  • According to Public Health Ontario, the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant has been associated with the N501Y spike protein mutation, while variants B.1.351 and P.1, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively, have been associated with mutations N501Y, E484K and K417N.
  • As a result, any specimens screening positive N501Y and negative for E484K are presumed by the province to involve the B.1.1.7 variant and aren’t being sent for further genomic testing.
  • Specimens that screen positive for either the E484K or K417N mutation will undergo genomic testing.

The remaining 140 cases have either screened positive for the E484K spike protein mutation and are undergoing genomic analysis, or they screened positive for N501Y but their E484K status is unknown.

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The health unit says more than 53,409 doses have been administered so far by the health unit, Bluewater Health, and primary care clinics and pharmacies.

As of Thursday, people 50 and older, and people turning 50 this year, are now eligible, as are residents who fall under Group 1 of essential workers who can’t work from home, as defined by the province.

Eligible residents are being encouraged to book appointments for the vaccine through the health unit’s website.

People with questions about the booking process can contact the health unit’s new call centre at 226-254-8222. The health unit says its main number, 519-383-8331, is still available to field other inquires.

The AstraZeneca shot is continuing to be administered at some local pharmacies to people who are 40 and older as part of a provincial program. Bookings should be made with the pharmacies themselves.

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Both the Lambton-Kent District School Board and St. Clair Catholic District School Board have paused the reporting of new cases during the remote learning period.

Three outbreaks are listed as being active Friday after one at an unnamed workplace was declared over. The outbreak, declared April 21, was linked to three cases.

The three active outbreaks all involved unnamed workplaces, linked to a total of 15 cases.

The health unit says the region’s per cent positivity was 1.9 per cent as of the week of April 25.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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