An 18-year-old man has been identified as being one of three COVID-19-related deaths reported Thursday by the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
The individual is the youngest person to die during the pandemic in London-Middlesex as a result of COVID-19, the health unit says. Few other details have been released. The health unit is expected to hold a media briefing Thursday afternoon.
The two other deaths reported on Thursday involved a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 70s who was associated with a long-term care home.
It’s the first time since early February that London-Middlesex has recorded three COVID-19-related deaths in one day.
Health officials also reported 94 new cases on Thursday, bringing the region’s pandemic case total to 10,903. Of those, 9,792 have resolved, an increase of 90 from the day before, the health unit said.
Including the three deaths Thursday, the region’s pandemic death toll stands at 206.
At least 905 cases are currently active in the region, about the same as the day before.
The health unit says 415 cases have been reported since the start of the month. The region’s rolling seven-day case average stands at 85, down from 99 the seven days previous.
Of the 94 new cases reported Thursday, 85 are from London, while nine are from elsewhere in Middlesex County.
Those testing positive skew younger, with people under 30 making up 51 per cent of cases. People in their 20s, in particular, make up about 35 per cent of the cases.
At least 16 individuals are 19 or younger, 32 are in their 20s, eight are in their 30s, 12 are in their 40s, 14 are in their 50s, three are in their 60s, four are in their 70s and five are 80 or older.
Twenty-six cases are listed as being due to close contact, while 24 have no known link, five are due to outbreak and one to travel. Thirty-eight cases have pending or undetermined exposure source data.
The number of variant cases in the region rose by 26 on Thursday to a total of at least 1,663.
All 26 of the cases involved the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., health unit data shows. Nearly all of the region’s variant cases, 1,654, have been the B.1.1.7 variant.
Eight cases have been confirmed to involve the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil, while one case, reported on Tuesday, was confirmed to involve the B.1.617 variant, first detected in India.
The lone B.1.617 case was 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 276 cases in the region have screened positive for a spike protein mutation that is consistent with one or more variants but have not yet been confirmed or presumed to be a variant.
Of them, 145 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.
Another 131 cases were initially found to have just the N501Y mutation, however, they have not been ruled out for E484K so they have not been added to the main variant count. It’s unclear if the cases may be added in the future.
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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.
Ninety-six COVID-19 patients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre on Thursday, a decline of three from the record 99 seen on Wednesday.
Of the 96 patients, 42 are in LHSC’s intensive care units, up one from the day before.
Thirty-two of the 96 COVID-19 patients in LHSC’s care are from out of the local region, the organization said, including 24 who are in the ICU.
Active staff cases at LHSC number 10, the same as the day before.
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, its most recent update. At least five staff cases are active within the overall organization.
LHSC, like other hospitals in the region, has been fielding patients transferred from hard-hit hospitals in the Toronto area.
Earlier this week, 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.
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.
One new institutional outbreak has been declared in the region.
The outbreak is located at Dearness Home and involves the facility’s 5 East area, the health unit says.
It’s among five seniors’ facility outbreaks active as of Thursday.
Three are located at the same facility, Glendale Crossing. Individual outbreaks are active in its Glanworth, Lambeth and Westminster areas.
An outbreak is also active at Kensington Village on the first floor of its long-term care home.
At least 818 cases and 107 deaths have been linked to long-term care and retirement homes in London-Middlesex.
COVID-19: Ontario long-term care homes easing restrictions
The new cases come less than a week after the Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission released a report that called for an overhaul of the sector.
The report laid blame at the feet of the former Liberal government and Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives, who were slow to respond in the early weeks of the pandemic.
It said the government hadn’t yet formalized its response structure when outbreaks first set in at long-term care homes, and it was making up emergency measures as it went along.
It also called for the government to consider how nursing homes are managed, focusing on quality care, and took issue with care homes that are owned by investors.
The report and the government’s response to the pandemic has dominated question period, with opposition politicians repeatedly calling for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton to step down.
On Wednesday, Fullerton reiterated the province is committed to improving conditions in the sector, pointing to plans to increase staffing and create more beds.
However, she stopped short of committing to a permanent wage increase for personal service workers and indicated room for “mission-driven,” for-profit care homes in the future of long-term care in Ontario.
Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains active at the city’s jail.
Declared on Jan. 18, the outbreak has seen at least 60 inmate cases and 43 staff cases reported.
At least one inmate case was listed as being active at the jail on Tuesday, according to provincial data.
Outbreaks also remain active at one Western residence and two child-care facilities.
Those details can be found below.
One new school case has been reported in the region and a school outbreak has been declared over.
The case, reported late Wednesday night, involves Sir Arthur Currie Public School, according to the Thames Valley District School Board.
The case is the only one currently active in London-Middlesex involving an elementary or secondary school, the health unit says.
The resolved outbreak involved St. Andre Bessette Secondary School and was declared active on April 20. It was deemed over as of late Wednesday.
At least 351 cases have been reported involving local elementary and secondary schools during the pandemic.
In the local child-care sector, at least 14 cases remain active, along with two outbreaks.
At least 10 cases are located at London Bridge: Rowntree Park Early Childhood Learning Centre in London, where an outbreak declaration has been active since April 25.
The facility has closed until at least next week as a result of the high cases.
Elsewhere, two cases are active involving Angels Daycares Komoka, according to the health unit. An outbreak declaration has been active there since April 28.
One case each is active involving Glen Cairn Child Care and London Bridge: Adelaide Early Childhood Learning Centre, the health unit said.
At least 84 cases have been reported in child care/early years settings during the pandemic.
In the post-secondary world, 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 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, people 50 and older and people turning 50 this year can book an appointment to get the vaccine at a local mass vaccination clinic.
In addition, the first of two provincially designated groups of essential workers who can’t work from home are also able to book a spot.
The group is large and includes people who are elementary and secondary school workers as well as people who are funeral and crematorium 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.
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.
The Ontario government is expecting increased shipments of vaccine, with weekly Pfizer shipments of more than 785,000 doses in May and more than 938,000 in June.
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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.
Ontario is reporting 3,424 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 26 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 958 new cases in Toronto, 900 in Peel and 291 in York Region
She also says there are 175 new cases in Durham Region and 155 in Hamilton.
Thursday’s data is based on more than 54,100 tests completed.
The Ministry of Health says 1,964 people are hospitalized because of the novel coronavirus, with 877 in intensive care and 600 on a ventilator.
Ontario says that 141,038 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Wednesday’s report, for a total of more than 5.7 million.
Meanwhile, groups representing thousands of health-care workers say their members need to be prioritized for full immunization from COVID-19 as they work with patients hospitalized with the virus.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, Canadian Union of Public Employees and Service Employees International Union say they have asked the province to accelerate second doses for the workers but have received no commitment.
Health-care workers were among the initial groups to be prioritized for a first dose of the shot.
Since Ontario’s vaccine effort began, however, the province has extended dosing intervals for COVID-19 shots from 21 days to four months due to supply shortages.
The group representing the health-care workers say the government needs to ensure the employees get second doses soon because they remain at risk when working with patients who have more transmissible COVID-19 variants.
A spokeswoman for the health minister says as the province receives more vaccines it may eventually be able to shorten the dosing interval for all Ontarians.
Ontario says it expects 65 per cent of adults to have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May.
— This story will be updated with numbers from neighbouring health units.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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