COVID-19: 1 death, 113 cases in London-Middlesex; record 99 hospitalized at LHSC

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One person has died and another 113 have tested positive for COVID-19, officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported on Wednesday.

At the same time, officials with London Health Sciences Centre are reporting a record number of COVID-19 patients in their care.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 10,811, of which 9,702 have resolved, an increase of 90 from the day before.

At least 203 deaths have been reported. The most recent involved a man in his 80s who was not associated with a long-term care or retirement home, the health unit said. No other information was released.

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At least 906 cases are currently active in the region, an increase of 25 from the day before.

The health unit says 323 cases have been reported since the start of the month, 117 fewer than was seen over the same time period in April.

The region’s rolling seven-day case average stands at 87, down from 99 the seven days previous.


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Of the 113 new cases Wednesday, 103 are from London while nine are from Middlesex County. One case is pending location data.

Those testing positive, as has been the case for several weeks, skews younger, with 55 cases, or nearly half, involving people under 30.

At least 22 are 19 or younger, 33 are in their 20s, 14 are in their 30s, 15 are in their 40s, 11 are in their 50s, 13 are in their 60s, four are in their 70s, and one is 80 or older.

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Close contact is listed as the exposure source for 46 cases, while 34 cases are pending or undetermined such data. At least 25 have no known link, while eight are due to outbreak.

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The number of variant cases in the region stands at 1,646 as of Wednesday, an increase of 15 from the day before The 15 all involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.

At least 1,637 of the region’s variant cases have been confirmed or are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, while at least eight cases have been confirmed to involve the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.

One case has been confirmed in the region to involve the B.1.617 variant, first identified in India.

The lone B.1.617 case was reported on Tuesday and has been linked to travel, health officials say. Few other details have been released. The province hasn’t designated the variant to be a ‘variant of concern’ yet, so it does not appear in Public Health Ontario’s daily epidemiological reports.

A note on the process of confirming and presuming variant cases:

  • Confirming a variant is a multi-step process. 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 the N501Y mutation. Those cases are presumed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, as that variant has only been associated with the N501Y mutation.
  • Cases that screen positive for either the E484K or K417N mutation 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 274 cases in the region have screened positive for a spike protein mutation that is consistent with one or more variants.

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At least 143 of them have screened positive for the E484K mutation, which has been associated with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.

These cases remain under genomic analysis.

Meanwhile, another 131 cases were initially found to have just the N501Y mutation, however, they have not been ruled out for E484K. As a result, they are not being presumed B.1.1.7 and added to the main variant tally. It’s unclear if the cases may be added, as the figure has not changed in several weeks.


Confirmed/presumed variant cases and screened mutation positive cases in London-Middlesex as of April 5, 2021.


Middlesex-London Health Unit

At least 9,696 cases have been confirmed in London since the pandemic began, while 335 have been in Middlesex Centre.

Elsewhere, 315 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 140 in Thames Centre, 69 in Lucan Biddulph, 56 in North Middlesex, 53 in Southwest Middlesex, 15 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.

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At least 130 cases have pending location information.

Hospitalizations

A record 99 people with COVID-19 are in the care of London Health Sciences Centre as of Wednesday, the organization said, an increase of seven from the day before.

Of that total, at least 41 are in intensive care, LHSC says, an increase of four from the day before.

At least 35 of the 99 patients are from out of the region, including 25 in the ICU — about 61 per cent of the COVID-19 patients in the ICU. The number of transferred patients rose by one from Tuesday.

At the same time, LHSC reports that 10 staff are currently positive with COVID-19.

At St. Joseph’s Health Care London, no COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital as of April 26, the most recent update.

At least five staff cases are active within the overall organization.


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LHSC, like other hospitals in the region, has been fielding patients that have been transferred out of hospitals in the hard-hit Toronto area.

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On Monday, Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s chief medical officer, said LHSC was anticipating eight transfers this week.

The organization has opened 25 additional critical care beds in recent weeks and has ramped down non-urgent scheduled surgeries as part of a provincial directive. Surgical volume is down to about half of normal.

At least three of the additional critical care beds are located in the pediatric critical care unit of Children’s Hospital. On Monday, Dukelow said adult patients were in the unit, but wouldn’t say exactly how many.

An update is expected Monday.

Institutional outbreaks

No new institutional outbreaks have been declared in the region.

Four are currently active, all declared on Tuesday, with three at a single facility.

The health unit says three outbreaks are active at Glendale Crossing in its Glanworth, Lambeth, and Westminster areas.

One outbreak is active in Kensington Village in the first floor of it’s long-term care home.

The outbreaks are among the first to be seen at local seniors’ facilities in roughly a month.

Long-term care and retirement homes have been linked to at least 812 cases in London-Middlesex and 106 deaths, according to the health unit.

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Elsewhere, the non-institutonal outbreak at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre remains active, with at least one active inmate case reported at the jail as of Monday.

The EMDC outbreak, active since Jan. 18, has seen at least 60 inmate and 43 staff cases reported. It’s unclear if any staff cases are active at the jail.

Outbreaks also remain active at one school, one Western residence, and two child care facilities.

Those details can be found below.

Schools

No new school cases have been reported by either the Thames Valley District School Board or the London District Catholic School Board.

No school-related cases were listed as active on Wednesday by the health unit.

One school outbreak, involving St. Andre Bessette Secondary School, remains active in the region. The outbreak was declared on April 20.

At least 350 cases have been reported involving local elementary and secondary schools during the pandemic.


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Meanwhile, at least 16 COVID-19 cases remain active at several local child care and early years facilities.

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At least 11 of them are linked to London Bridge: Rowntree Park Early Childhood Learning Centre in London. An outbreak, declared April 25, remains active at the facility, which has closed until at least the end of next week.

Elsewhere, three cases are active involving Angels Daycares Komoka. An outbreak, declared April 28, is also active there.

One case each is active involving Glen Cairn Child Care and London Bridge: Adelaide Early Childhood Learning Centre, the health unit reported.

The health unit says at least 84 cases have been reported involving such settings during the pandemic.

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In post-secondary, only one Western University student residence is active in the region.

The outbreak was declared on April 8 in Perth Hall, and has been associated with at least 31 cases.

At least eight student residence outbreaks have been declared since late March, linked to a total of at least 196 cases. All of them except the Perth Hall outbreak have been deemed resolved.

Vaccinations and Testing

As of Thursday morning, all adults 50 and older, and people turning 50 this year, will be eligible to book a vaccine appointment at a local mass vaccination clinic.

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In addition, residents who fall under the first group of essential workers who can’t work from home will also be eligible. The group is large and includes people who are elementary and secondary school workers to people who are funeral, crematorium and elementary workers.

The health unit says people who fall under the essential worker group will require a username and password provided by their employer to book a slot. Employers can pre-register on the health unit website.

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.

Health officials warned on Monday that people who have been eligible to get the vaccine but who haven’t booked an appointment yet may find it harder to get a spot with the large number of people being added to the eligibility list.


Group 1 of 2: Essential front line workers who can’t work from home.


Government of Ontario

The province’s current vaccination timeline aims to have all people 18 and older eligible to get the vaccine by the week of May 24.

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The stepped-up timeline comes as the province expects to receive weekly Pfizer vaccine shipments of more than 785,000 doses in May, and more than 938,000 doses next month.

Local health officials have said that because of the increased doses, they anticipate opening the region’s fourth vaccination clinic at Earls Nichols Arena sometime this month.

The health unit says more than 168,000 vaccine doses have been administered locally.

An update on the local vaccination campaign is expected Thursday.

According to the most recent vaccination data from ICES, as of April 25, the postal area in London-Middlesex with the highest vaccination percentage (when looking at all ages) was N6K with 33.43 per cent. The lowest, the data shows, was N6L with 15.53 per cent.

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Elsewhere, vaccine doses are continuing to be administered through some primary care facilities and pharmacies.

The pharmacy program is being led by the province. Residents aged 40 and older are asked to book a spot with the pharmacies themselves.

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.

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Ontario

Ontario is reporting 2,941 new cases of COVID-19 today and 44 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 924 new cases in Toronto, 565 in Peel Region, and 254 in York Region.

She also says there are 171 new cases in Durham Region and 149 in Hamilton.

Today’s data is based on nearly 45,800 completed tests.

The Ministry of Health says 2,075 people are hospitalized with the novel coronavirus, with 882 people in intensive care and 620 on a ventilator.

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Ontario says 132,603 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Tuesday’s report, for a total of nearly 5.6 million doses.

The province says it’s on track to administer first COVID-19 vaccine doses to 65 per cent of adults in the province by the end of May.

The province said last week that all adults would be eligible to book a shot starting the week of May 24.

Elgin and Oxford

Eleven new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported on Wednesday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,473, of which 3,271 have resolved, an increase of 21 from the day before. At least 76 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 23.

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The health unit says at least 136 cases are active as of Wednesday, including 29 in Woodstock, 28 in Tillsonburg, and 27 in St. Thomas.

At least 12 people from the SWPH region are in hospital for COVID-19, with four in intensive care, the health unit says.

At least 522 variant cases have been seen in the region, nine more than the day before.

(It should be noted the tally includes confirmed and presumed cases, and cases which screened positive for a spike protein mutation common to a variant but which are still undergoing genomic analysis.)

At least 459 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 at least two cases have been confirmed to involve the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.

“There wasn’t a direct connection to travel, which does, again, speak to the fact that these variants are circulating within the community,” said Dr. Joyce Lock, the region’s medical officer of health, on Wednesday of the two P.1 cases.

“We have transmission of these variants. They were introduced into Canada from other parts of the world, but now they have their foothold within Ontario, and locally, we are seeing 70 per cent of our cases as being variants of concern.”

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Another 61 cases are undergoing genomic analysis after they were found to have a spike protein mutation, E484K, which is consistent with the P.1 and B.1.351 variants, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.

“People need to be aware that it doesn’t require travel to get this. That anybody, anywhere, at any time in our community can be exposed and get variants of concern,” Lock said.

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As with the rest of the province, all adults 50 and older, and those turning 50 this year, will be eligible to receive a vaccine at a local vaccination clinic as of Thursday morning.

In addition, residents who fall under the first group of essential workers who can’t work from home will also be eligible.

The health unit says people who fall under the essential worker group will require a username and password provided by their employer to book a slot.

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

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

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The province has aimed to have all people 18 and older vaccine-eligible by the week of May 24, according to a revised timeline released last week.

“Although eligibility is opening, and there are reports of increased shipments of vaccine so our supply will be better, these larger shipments of vaccine have not yet made their way to us yet,” Lock said.

“This will require some patience by everybody over the next couple of weeks as demand for vaccine and appointments will be much higher than our supply. As supply increases, we will make more appointments available.”

Lock says the region’s mass vaccination clinics aren’t operating at their maximum capacity due to current vaccine supply. She asks that residents who are unable to make it to their scheduled vaccination appointment officially cancel the booking with the health unit to allow others to take the spot.

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Residents in the N5H postal code, meanwhile, are able to get the vaccine if they are 18 and older, as the region is a designated provincial COVID-19 hot spot.

Local health officials say residents of the N5H postal area, centered around Aylmer, must provide proof of age and residence to gain access to an appointment at a local vaccine clinic.

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Recent data from ICES shows that the N5H postal area has the lowest percentage in SWPH when it comes to people who have gotten at least one dose, looking at all age groups — just under 18 per cent.

The rate is also among the lowest in Ontario.

In contrast, N5L, centered around Port Stanley, has among the highest percentages in the province with 43 per cent.

Lock said the health unit has had no trouble filling appointments when vaccine eligibility has expanded, including when it comes to N5H residents, and adds that appointments at the East Elgin Family Health Team’s N5H pop-up clinic on Thursday were snapped up quickly.

However, she says she suspects there may be a degree of vaccine hesitancy among some residents of the N5H area.

“What the ultimate outcome will be as to how many will be vaccine hesitant, that’s not clear yet. Right now, it’s a little difficult to know whether this is an issue of vaccine access or that issue of vaccine hesitancy,” Lock said.

“That said, we are working with health care providers and some other community groups within that postal code to find fresh ways and to reach out to members of that community to ensure that they have what they need to make an informed decision about receiving the vaccine.”

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One outbreak is active in the region, according to the health unit.

The outbreak was declared late Thursday at Caressant Care Nursing Home in Woodstock and is linked to three cases among residents and five among staff, unchanged 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 763 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, followed by 636 in St. Thomas, 501 in Aylmer, and 432 in Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, at least 229 have been in Norwich Township, while 181 have been in Bayham, 168 in Ingersoll, 135 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 85 in Central Elgin, 82 in Blandford-Blenheim, 75 in Zorra, 66 in South-West Oxford, 45 in Dutton/Dunwich, 28 in Southwold, 27 in West Elgin, and 18 in Malahide.

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The region’s test positivity rate stood at 3.5 per cent as of the week of April 18, figures released this week show. The tally is up from 3.3 per cent the previous week.

Huron and Perth

Ten new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Huron-Perth, local health officials reported on Wednesday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,594, of which 1,509 have resolved, an increase of three from the previous day. At least 53 deaths have been reported, most recently on Monday.

Two cases each were reported in Howick and Stratford, while one case each was reported in Bluewater, Morris Turnberry, North Perth, Perth East, Perth South, and St. Marys.

The health unit says 32 cases are currently active, including at least 11 in North Perth and six in Stratford. Two people are currently in hospital with COVI-19.

At least 110 variant cases have been reported in the region, with at least 14 of them still active.

Public Health Ontario says at least 58 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.

The remaining cases are still under investigation. Few other details have been released

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The health unit says its phone and website vaccine booking system will be down between 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and sometime Thursday for maintenance.

When it reopens Thursday, people 50 and older across Ontario will be eligible to get the vaccine at local vaccination clinics.

Residents who fall under the province’s first group of people who cannot work from home will also be eligible starting Thursday.

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

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

In a statement, Dr. Miriam Klassen, the region’s medical officer of health, said 38.9 per cent of eligible people 18 and older had seen at least one dose, nearly on par with the province’s 40 per cent May 1 target.

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

More than 49,323 people have been vaccinated so far in Huron-Perth as of Wednesday.

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No new school cases have been reported.

Six 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.

No new outbreaks have been declared.

Two are active, including one at Fordwich Village, a long-term care home in Howick. It’s linked to at least two staff cases and was declared active on Friday.

Elsewhere, an outbreak is active at an unnamed congregate living setting, the health unit said.

A total of 636 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 398 in North Perth and 145 in Perth East, while 521 have been reported in Huron County, with 112 in South Huron and 105 in Huron East.

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Stratford has reported at least 398 in total, while St. Marys has seen 39.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.1 the week of April 18, down from 1.7 the week previous. Updated numbers are expected this week.

Sarnia and Lambton

Eighteen new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lambton County, local health officials said Wednesday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case total to 3,287, of which 3,147 have resolved, an increase of eight from the day before. At least 56 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 24.

At least 84 cases are listed as being active in the region, the health unit says. According to Bluewater Health, 13 COVID-19 patients are currently in their care, unchanged from the day before.

Provincial data shows at least nine people were in the ICU in Sarnia as of Monday, with all on ventilators.

The health unit says 412 variant cases have been identified in Lambton so far, unchanged from the day before.

At least 280 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., according to Public Health Ontario.

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At least 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 131 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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Lambton health officials say more than 52,257 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered by the health unit, Bluewater Health, and at primary care clinics and pharmacies.

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The amount equals about 45 per cent of Lambton’s eligible population having received at least one dose.

“Lambton County’s COVID-19 Immunization Rollout continues with vaccinations to individuals 55 years of age and older, Indigenous populations and adult recipients of chronic home healthcare, along with the first group of essential workers who cannot work from home,” officials said in an update Wednesday.

Vaccinations are also ongoing for people with eligible health conditions. All adults 50 and older are expected to be eligible to get the vaccine in Lambton as of late this week, the health unit says.

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

On Monday, officials announced the launch of a new dedicated vaccine call centre which will run weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The number is 226-254-8222.

The call centre is being opened to better field inquiries about the vaccine from members of the public, and to provide other supports including for issues relating to booking an appointment.

The health unit says its main number, 519-383-8331, is still available to field other inquires.

In addition to the main vaccine clinics, 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.

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Bookings should be made with the pharmacies themselves.

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No new school cases were reported by the St. Clair Catholic District School Board and none are active within the school board. The Lambton-Kent District School Board has paused public reporting of new cases while students are learning remotely.

One new outbreak has been declared in the region, located at an unnamed workplace and linked to three cases.

It’s among four outbreaks active at workplaces. The others are associated with three, three, and nine cases, respectively.

Elsewhere, an outbreak remains active at a residence of Lambton College (12 cases) and North Lambton Childcare Centre – St. Peter Canisius Site (two cases).

The health unit says the region’s per cent positivity was 1.9 per cent as of the week of April 25. Updated figures are expected this week.

— With files from The Canadian Press





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