Coronavirus: London-Middlesex sees 27 cases; Elgin-Oxford, Huron-Perth moving to orange tier

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Twenty-seven more people have tested positive for the coronavirus while 15 others have recovered, the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported Friday.

It brings the region’s total case count to 1,440, of which 1,241 have recovered. Sixty-three people have died, most recently on Nov. 7. There are at least 136 known active cases in the region.

On Thursday, the London-Middlesex November caseload surpassed that recorded in all of October, making the month the second-worst for cases locally with 294. April recorded 341.

As of this week, the region remains in the yellow-protect tier of the province’s restrictions framework. It will remain in yellow into next week.

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Of Friday’s cases, 22 are from London, two are from Middlesex Centre, two are from Thames Centre, and one is from Southwest Middlesex.

Like Thursday, those infected span every age group, with more than half falling under the age of 30.

Nine are 19 or younger, six are in their 20s, four are in their 30s, one is in their 40s, three are in their 50s, one is in their 60s, two are in their 70s, and one is aged 80 or older.

Of those, at least 13 are listed as having contracted the virus through close contact with a confirmed case, while two became infected through outbreaks and one through travel. Seven cases have no known link, and four are pending or undetermined.

At least 1,324 cases have been reported in London since March, followed by 34 each in Middlesex Centre and Strathroy-Caradoc and 28 in Thames Centre. Four other locales have seen fewer than 10 cases each.

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Of the 294 cases reported so far this month, 52 per cent have involved people under 30, according to health unit figures. At least 64 cases have involved people 19 or younger, while 90 have involved people in their 20s.

People in their 20s have accounted for the largest percentage of cases by age during the pandemic with 368, or about a quarter of the region’s caseload. People 19 and under are the second-largest age group, accounting for 210 cases.

On Thursday, the health unit announced that an outbreak had been declared at Western University’s Saugeen-Maitland Hall after eight residents tested positive. It’s the second outbreak involving a Western residence, following an outbreak at London Hall from Oct. 11 to Nov. 10 that sickened six.

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Health officials also announced Thursday that they will drop four Section 22 orders and one instruction that had been previously issued for the city and county.

The health unit says the local measures are no longer necessary as the provincial colour-coded framework — of which London-Middlesex sits in yellow, the second-loosest tier — adequately addresses the issues that prompted the orders to begin with.

The only Section 22 order to remain in place by the health unit is the one dealing with sport, recreation, and fitness, which will remain in place for at least another four weeks.

Hospitalizations

There has been no change to the number of hospitalizations reported in London and Middlesex. The next update is expected Monday.

There are at least 11 patients with coronavirus in the care of London Health Sciences Centre, the organization reported Thursday. In addition, 15 staff members are currently infected. An internal email circulated Thursday by LHSC CEO Dr. Paul Woods said an additional 55 staff cases were either under investigation or awaiting test results.

Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, noted Thursday that the number of hospitalized cases was the highest seen since the second wave began.

“In the first wave, as this moved through long-term care and in this region, to a lesser extent, retirement homes, you definitely saw high levels of hospitalizations and ICU use, which we haven’t reached at this point in London and Middlesex in the second wave,” he said.

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St. Joseph’s Health Care London says the number of coronavirus patients in its care is zero as of Friday.

At least five health-care workers with the organization (staff, physicians, volunteers and students) have tested positive since Nov. 4, the organization says.

Friday marks the first time this workweek that the health unit’s hospitalization tallies have not risen. The non-ICU tally rose by two on Thursday and Wednesday and by one on Tuesday and Monday.

The ICU tally rose by one on Thursday.

It’s unclear, however, if these are recent hospitalizations or past hospitalizations that are just now being reflected in the health unit’s data.

How current hospitalization rates compare to past months is murky, as the health unit does not provide date information alongside its hospitalized tallies, making a hospitalization timeline and comparison difficult if not impossible.

At least 144 people have been admitted to hospital in the region since March, including 35 in intensive care.

Schools

The number of school cases in London and Middlesex has risen after two after cases were reported at a London secondary school and at a private religious school in Komoka.

The London case was reported at Saunders Secondary School, according to the Thames Valley District School Board. It’s not clear yet whether the case involves a staff member or student.

The case is the second to be seen at the school since September. One student case was reported on Oct. 7.

The case in Komoka was reported at Providence Reformed Collegiate, a private Christian school on Queen Street, according to the health unit.

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There have been at least 40 cases linked to schools in London and Middlesex, with 22 at local elementary schools and 15 at secondary schools and three in child care or early years.

Friday’s two school cases are among at least eight that remain active at local schools, including at Eagle Heights Public School (two students), Westminster Secondary School (one student), Sir Wilfred Laurier Secondary School, Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School (one student), and Académie de la Tamise (one staff member.)

  • Sept. 21 at H.B. Beal Secondary School involving a student.
  • Oct. 5 and Oct. 8 at École élémentaire La Pommeraie, both involving staff members.
  • Oct. 7 at Saunders Secondary School involving a student.
  • Oct. 9 and Oct. 12 at Sir Arthur Currie Public School, one involving a staff member, the other involving a student. The cases resulted in an outbreak declaration, which resolved on Oct. 30.
  • Oct. 12 at Mary Wright Public School in Strathroy involving a student.
  • Oct. 13 at Northdale Central Public School in Dorchester involving a student.
  • Oct. 17 at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School involving a student.
  • Oct. 21 at Lambeth Public School involving a student.
  • Oct. 25 at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School involving a student; at St. Andre Bessette Secondary School involving a student; and at St. Kateri Separate School involving two students.
  • Oct. 29 at École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc involving one staff member; at West Nissouri Public School involving one student; and at A.B. Lucas Secondary School involving one staff member.
  • Oct. 31 at Eagle Heights Public School involving one staff member.
  • Nov. 2 at Northbrae Public School involving one student.
  • Nov. 3 at Wilton Grove Public School in its before/after school program.
  • Nov. 4 at Lambeth Public School involving two students.
  • Nov 5-8 at Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School involving four students.
  • Nov. 7 at Westminster Secondary School involving one student.
  • Nov. 7 at St. Nicholas Catholic Elementary School involving one student.
  • Nov. 8 at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School involving one student, and at Oakridge Secondary School involving two students.
  • Nov. 9 at Arthur Ford Public School in its before/after school program involving one staff member.
  • Nov. 10 at Catholic Central High School involving a student.

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In the post-secondary setting, as previously mentioned, an outbreak has been declared at Western University’s Saugeen-Maitland Hall, it’s largest residence, where eight residents have tested positive.

The health unit says it’s “following up with all close contacts” and that it is working with the university “to support these individuals as well as any other students who may need to seek testing or quarantine.”

Institutional outbreaks

No new outbreaks have been reported or declared over, according to the health unit.

Two outbreaks remain active at University Hospital in the facility’s 4IP General Medicine, declared Nov. 10, and 9IP Orthopedics units, declared Nov. 11, according to London Health Sciences Centre.

It’s unclear how many people have tested positive as a result of the outbreaks as such information has not been made public by LHSC or the health unit. The organization reported Thursday that 11 patients were in its care with COVID-19, while 15 staff members were currently positive.

In an internal email obtained by Global News, LHSC CEO Dr. Paul Woods said internal contact tracing had found the spread of the virus to be caused by direct staff-to-staff transmission.

“This week’s numbers of staff and inpatient cases, coupled with a sharp and alarming increase in community transmission, must serve as our wake-up call,” Woods wrote in the email obtained by Global News.

“To be clear: this is unacceptable, considering the infection control safety protocols and procedures LHSC has put in place over the past eight months,” he said.

Woods states the hospital network has had ongoing issues with staff taking off masks to eat together and failing to practice proper physical distancing, both outside and inside, and that low community transmission in the summer meant lower inpatient numbers, which “likely led to a sense of perceived increased safety.”

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Since March, the region has seen at least 48 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including 40 at local seniors’ facilities.

Seniors’ facility outbreaks alone have been tied to 112 resident cases, 112 staff cases, and 39 deaths.

Meanwhile, although it isn’t an institutional outbreak, a workplace outbreak declared Monday at a new Richmond Row eatery remains active, linked to at least three staff cases. An aforementioned outbreak is also active at Western University’s Saugeen-Maitland Hall.

Testing

Health unit figures show that at least 6,523 people got tested during the week of Nov. 8, about the same as seen the week before. The numbers are the latest available from the health unit.

The test per cent positivity rate for that week was 1.3 per cent, down from 1.6 the week before.

Both of the city’s assessment centres, Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena are continuing to operate appointment-only. Appointment testing for certain asymptomatic people is also continuing at eight local pharmacies.

Carling Heights recorded a five-day average of 346 visits per day between Nov. 9 and 13, while Oakridge Arena saw 342 per day, according to health unit figures.

Visitation numbers have remained steady so far this week, with Carling Heights recording an average of 350 per day from Monday to Thursday. Oakridge has seen an average of 301.

The cumulative incident rate for London and Middlesex stands at 283.7 per 100,000 people, compared to Ontario’s 668.5.

Ontario

Ontario reported 1,418 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, along with eight new deaths related to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 400 new cases in Peel Region, 393 in Toronto and 168 in York Region.

The latest figures have pushed Ontario over the 100,000 case mark, for a total of 100,790.

The province said a total of 84,716 cases have been resolved, and 3,451 deaths have been recorded overall.

Ontario is also reporting 518 people currently in hospital with COVID-19.

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The province also announced Friday that it is moving the COVID-19 hot spots of Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown starting Monday.

The government says that means no indoor organized public events or social gatherings except with members of the same household.

The lockdown will last a minimum of 28 days and the province says it will fine people $750 for violating public health rules.

Premier Doug Ford says the lockdown is needed to get alarmingly high levels of community transmission in Toronto and Peel under control.

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Meanwhile, public health orders currently in effect across Ontario will remain in place for another month.

The province says the orders under the Reopening Ontario Act will remain in force until Dec. 21.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says extending the orders will ensure the province can address the health crisis and deliver critical services such as health care.

Elgin and Oxford

Two people have tested positive for the coronavirus while another six have recovered, Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) reported Friday.

The update comes as the province unveils the the region will be moving to the orange-restrict tier of its colour-coded framework. The change will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. The region is currently in yellow-protect.

Officials with SWPH say the decision was based on an increase of cases, more evidence of community transmission, higher test per cent positivity, and an increase in outbreaks.

SWPH has reported at least 152 cases since the start of November, and it’s test per cent positivity rate stood at two per cent as of the week of Nov. 8.

“It is expected this stage will remain in effect for at least 28 days, unless local risks increase and further restrictions are required,” the health unit said in a statement.

The region has a total case count of 477 as of Friday, of which 411 have recovered and five have died. The death toll has not risen since early July. At least three people are in hospital as of Thursday, although not in intensive care.

At least 61 cases remain active in the region. Forty-six are located in Oxford County while 15 are located in Elgin. At least three people were in the hospital, not in intensive care, as of Thursday.

“Our local cases continue to rise, which puts our community at-risk. We need to modify our behaviours immediately to keep our community healthy and thriving for the long-term,” the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Joyce Lock, said in a statement.

“Our goal is to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 so we can move back down to the yellow-protect tier, and eventually regain the control of this virus that we experienced in green-prevent.”

According to the health unit, the move to orange will mean increased restrictions for things such as bars, restaurants, event spaces, sports and fitness activities, retail spaces, personal care services, and other businesses.

More information on what a move to orange-restrict brings can be found on the province’s website.

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The number of school-linked cases was unchanged from the day before, according to the Thames Valley District School Board, London District Catholic School Board, and the province.

Overall, at least 10 cases have been reported at schools in the region.

Three student cases remain active at Assumption Catholic Elementary School in Aylmer, while three student cases remain active at Northdale Public School in Woodstock, according to the school’s respective boards.

Elsewhere, since-resolved cases were reported at St. Thomas Community Christian School, Mitchell Hepburn Public School (one student) and South Ridge Public School (one student.)

Meanwhile, two outbreaks remain active in the region, located at Bethany Care Home in Norwich (three resident cases and one staff case) and in the Arches Transitional Bed Program (one staff case.)

Nine outbreaks in total have been declared since March, linked to 18 cases, of which four have involved residents.

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By location, 105 cases have been reported in Aylmer, which has an incident rate of 1,401 cases per 100,000 people.

Ninety-two cases have been in Woodstock, 77 in Bayham, 56 in St. Thomas, and 38 each in Norwich and Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, 15 cases have been in Ingersoll, 12 in East Zorra-Tavistock and 10 in Dutton/Dunwich. Seven other locations have case counts under 10.

As of the week of Nov. 8, the most recent figures available, the region’s test positivity rate stood at 2.0 per cent, up from 0.9 the week before. At least 3,082 people were tested for the virus that week.

Huron and Perth

Ten people have tested positive and 10 others have recovered, Huron Perth Public Health said Friday.

It brings the region’s total case count to 264, of which 202 have recovered and 14 have died. The most recent death was reported on Wednesday involving a resident of Cedarcroft Place.

The region has recorded at least 99 cases since Oct. 31, more cases than it confirmed between the start of the pandemic and Aug. 10, health unit figures show.

As a result of the spike, driven in part by a significant outbreak at Cedarcroft Place, the region will be moving from the yellow-protect tier to the orange-restrict tier of the province’s colour-coded restrictions framework as of 12:01 a.m. Monday.

“As the number of cases rises across the province and in our area, we must all follow public health measures,” said the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Miriam Klassen, in a statement.

“To protect our most vulnerable members and our healthcare capacity, it’s critical that we stop the community spread across Huron and Perth. Things can change quickly, so we need to be vigilant now to flatten the curve of this second wave.”

The move to orange means increased restrictions for things such as bars, restaurants, event spaces, sports and fitness activities, retail spaces, personal care services, and other businesses.

More information on what a move to orange-restrict brings can be found on the province’s website.

The health unit says it’s critical that people continue to socially distance, to wear face coverings, to avoid non-essential travel, and to stay home if unwell.

At least 48 cases remain active as of Friday. At least 31 of those are at Cedarcroft Place.

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Of the 10 cases reported Friday, seven are in Perth East, while two are in Stratford, and one in North Perth.

It does not appear that any are tied to Cedarcroft, a retirement home in Stratford that has been hit hard by an outbreak of the virus, with roughly half of its resident population and one-third of its staff infected.

At least nine residents have died in the outbreak since it was declared on Oct. 27. (One new death that was reported on Thursday by the health unit turned out to be a re-report of Wednesday’s death, health officials later clarified.)

Thirty of the facility’s reported 43 resident cases remained active, while one of the 19 staff cases reported was active as of Thursday, the most recent update given.

To help with staffing, at least two dozen residents have been transferred to local hospitals since the weekend, while additional health-care workers have been brought in to the facility, including from London Health Sciences Centre.

The Cedarcroft outbreak is the only active institutional outbreak in the region.

At least 12 outbreaks have been declared at 10 facilities in the province since March. They’re linked to 89 cases and at least 12 deaths — including the eight at Cedarcroft and four at Greenwood Court in the spring.

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No new school cases were reported, however at least five remain active as of Friday.

Two cases are active at St. Ambrose Catholic Elementary School and St. Michael Catholic Secondary School, both in Stratford, both involving students.

Two student cases also remain active at Milverton Public School in Perth East, while one is at Shakespeare Public School in Stratford.

Prior to that, one presumptive case was reported Oct. 16 at Stratford’s St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School.

By location, Stratford has seen 115 cases reported since March, while Perth County has seen 85 and Huron County 56.

St. Marys has seen eight cases and one death.

Some 54,162 tests had been conducted by the health unit as of Nov. 8, the most recent figures available. The test per cent positivity rate that week was 1.5 per cent. Just over 2,300 people were tested.

Sarnia and Lambton

Five people have tested positive for the coronavirus while two others have recovered, Lambton Public Health reported Friday.

It brings the region’s total case count to 397, of which 357 have recovered and 25 have died. The death toll has not risen since early June.

The health unit says there are 15 active cases in the region.

Health officials reported two recoveries Thursday, five cases and one recovery Wednesday, and one recovery Tuesday.

At least one person remains in hospital at Bluewater Health, according to the organization. Their condition is not known. Three people have been admitted since the end of October, and 61 since March.

As of this week, the region remains in the least-restrictive green-prevent tier of the province’s restrictions framework. It will remain in green into next week.

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No new school cases have been reported in the county. One case remains active, located at St. Patrick’s Catholic High School in Sarnia involving a student.

A case at Riverview Central School in Port Lambton, also involving a student, has resolved, according to the Lambton Kent District School Board.

At least six school cases have been reported since Sept. 1, all involving students.

Previously, Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School in Sarnia reported two cases, while Bright’s Grove Public School, also in Sarnia, reported one. In Corunna, one case was reported at Colonel Cameron Public School.

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No new outbreaks have been reported in the region and none are active. A total of 13 have been declared since the pandemic began, linked to 115 cases and 16 deaths. Ten outbreaks have involved seniors’ facilities, two have involved workplaces, and one has been at Bluewater Health.

At least 53,211 people had been tested in the county as of Nov. 14, the most recent figures available. About 2,600 people were tested from Nov. 1 to 7.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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