In what is the largest single-day increase in cases in London and Middlesex since mid-April, local health officials on Friday reported that 19 additional people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, while eight people had recovered.
The update brings the region’s total case count to 951, of which 819 people have recovered. Fifty-seven people have died, a tally unchanged since June 12.
Friday’s update marks the fourth day in a row the region has seen a double-digit case jump and is the highest single-day increase in cases since April 16. There are now at least 75 known active cases in London and Middlesex.
Of the 19 new cases, 18 are from London while one is from Thames Centre. Just over half involve people under the age of 30.
Health unit data shows four cases involve people aged 19 or younger, six are in their 20s, two are in their 40s, five are in their 50s and one each are in their 60s and 70s.
Seven contracted the virus through contact with a confirmed case, while one became infected due to an outbreak. Six cases are listed as having no known link, while five have their exposure source listed as pending or undetermined.
Health officials reported 10 cases and 10 recoveries on Thursday, 11 cases and three recoveries on Wednesday, 10 cases and seven recoveries Tuesday, seven cases and nine recoveries on Monday, and 12 cases and 18 recoveries over the weekend.
According to the health unit, at least 219 cases have been reported in London and Middlesex since Sept. 1. Of those, at least 71 have been just this month.
Roughly three-quarters of those 219 cases have involved people under 40. At least 73 cases have involved people 19 and under, 71 have involved people in their 20s and 18 have involved people in their 30s.
At least 70 cases reported last month and this month have been linked to Western University students. That tally, issued a week ago, is likely higher now, however the health unit says it will not be issuing an updated figure for now.
The region’s seven-day average for new cases stood at 9.85 as of Friday, up from 7.57 on Thursday. Looking back to Sept. 25, the 14-day average is 8.14, up from 7.71 the day before. The region’s incident rate stands at 187.4 per 100,000 people, while Ontario’s is 381.7
Overall, 879 cases have been reported in London, or about 92.4 per cent of all the region’s cases. Elsewhere, Strathroy-Caradoc’s case count has been 29, while Middlesex Centre has seen 17, Thames Centre 13, North Middlesex seven, Lucan Biddulph five and Southwest Middlesex one.
The number of school-linked cases in the city has risen for the third day in a row after the Thames Valley District School Board confirmed a positive diagnosis involving a member of Sir Arthur Currie Public School, located along Buroak Drive.
Some details remain unclear, including whether the case involves a staff member or student at the school.
Health officials say the individual was at the school during the time that they were infectious, adding that close contacts are being notified and told to stay home from school and to quarantine.
In a statement, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said with four school-linked cases reported just this week, more positive infections are expected to emerge in the coming days.
“These cases underscore the importance of following the public health guidelines that we have been recommending for months,” Mackie said.
“Wear a mask, keep your physical distance, wash your hands and please, stay home when you develop symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19.”
The Sir Arthur Currie case follows the confirmation of two separate staff cases, one on Monday and one on Thursday, at École élémentaire La Pommeraie, in addition to a student case at Saunders Secondary School reported Wednesday.
Prior to that, a positive case involving a student was reported at H.B. Beal Secondary School on Sept. 21. It has since been deemed resolved.
Including the two school cases that have been reported in St. Thomas — one on Sept. 25, the other Sept. 29 — the number of school-linked cases reported in London and the immediate region stands at seven.
Heading into the Thanksgiving long weekend, local health officials and politicians have one message for Londoners: stay home.
“Please, don’t travel out of town. Please, stick to members of your household only. The stakes this coming weekend have never been greater, and we absolutely cannot afford to get this wrong,” London Mayor Ed Holder said Thursday.
“Numbers are creeping up again here in London, while case counts across the province are setting new records. This is serious.
“It’s not enough if some of us do the right thing, or most of us do the right thing. This requires all of us to do the right thing.”
The MLHU is asking that residents avoid close contact with anyone outside of their household, and to avoid non-essential travel to coronavirus hotspots like the GTA, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.
The city’s two assessment centres will be up and operational on the holiday Monday, according to officials with Thames Valley Family Health Team, who operates the centres alongside the London Health Sciences Centre.
As of this week, Oakridge Arena is operating on a phone-ahead appointment system, while Carling Heights continues to operate with a time card system that allows people to attend the centre and come back at a later time to get tested.
Both centres are prioritizing certain individuals.
At Carling Heights, patients who are symptomatic, have been notified of being exposed to the virus, live or work in a setting with an outbreak, or those eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative will be prioritized.
At Oakridge Arena, symptomatic children under 12 and symptomatic essential health-care workers will be prioritized, as will asymptomatic individuals in particular situations, such as seniors’ home residents and staff, farmworkers, and those in Indigenous communities.
Elsewhere, certain asymptomatic people are still able to get tested at three Shoppers Drug Mart locations in the city, while students and faculty at Western University can attend a testing clinic located in the on-campus Western Student Recreation Centre.
The Middlesex-London Paramedic Service’s mobile testing bus is also still operational and will be in Ilderton on Friday.
The number of active institutional outbreaks in the city remains unchanged from the day before at five.
The most recent outbreak was declared Wednesday in the Juniper and Norway Spruce areas of PeopleCare Oak Crossing. It came days after a separate outbreak, in the facility’s Red Oak area, was declared over.
Outbreaks remain active at Country Terrace (facility-wide), Earls Court Village (fourth floor), Meadow Park Care Centre (blue and yellow units) and Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care (MV3).
Seven institutional outbreaks have been reported in the region since mid-September. At least 35 have been declared since the pandemic began, including 29 at seniors’ facilities.
They’re tied to at least 201 cases — 108 residents and 93 staff members — and 35 deaths.
Health unit figures show people in their 20s remain the largest group of cases in the region by age, with 224 cases, or nearly a quarter of all infections.
People in their 50s make up 129 cases (13.5 per cent), while people in their 30s make up 124 cases (13 per cent). People 19 and under and people 80 and older account for 112 cases each (11.7 per cent).
Hospitalizations remain steady in the region, judging by the health unit’s total hospitalized tally, which did not change either Friday or Thursday.
Overall, 117 people have been hospitalized during the pandemic, including 33 who have needed intensive care.
It’s not clear whether any people are currently hospitalized for the virus in London or Middlesex as real-time information is not available from either the health unit or London Health Sciences Centre, which hasn’t issued a specific tally since mid-June for either patients or infected staff.
LHSC says it won’t put out an updated figure unless cases rise above five for both.
St. Joseph’s Health Care London reported no COVID-19 patients in its care on its website as of Friday at any of its facilities. At least 21 staff members have tested positive for the virus during the pandemic.
Provincially, Ontario reported a new daily record of 939 cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 336 cases are in Toronto, 150 in Peel Region and 126 in Ottawa.
The province is also reporting five new deaths due to the virus Friday.
The latest figures bring the total of COVID-19 cases in Ontario to 57,681, with 2,997 deaths, and 49,032 cases resolved.
The government says it has a backlog of 58,173 tests and has conducted 44,914 tests since the last daily report.
In total, 225 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, up from 192 reported Thursday.
The province says 47 people are in intensive care and 29 are on a ventilator.
The province has seen a surge in cases recently, and Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said Thursday that he had recommended new public health measures to the government to tackle the increase.
Dr. David Williams would not say what they are or when they could be implemented.
Three of Ontario’s top health advisors, including Williams, are scheduled to hold a news conference at 1 p.m. Friday, while the premier is set to speak to reporters later Friday afternoon.
Groups like the Ontario Hospital Association and Registered Nurses’ Association have called for targeted restrictions in hot spot regions.
Those include closing indoor table service in restaurants and closing bars, gyms and places of worship.
— This story will be updated with figures from neighbouring health units.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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