The region’s total coronavirus case tally eclipsed the 2,000 mark on Friday as the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported one death, 33 new cases and 32 recoveries.
At least 2,013 cases have been reported in London and Middlesex since the pandemic began, of which 1,619 people have recovered and 78 have died.
The health unit says the deceased was a woman in her 70s whose death was linked to the outbreak at University Hospital. At least 11 of the 12 deaths reported so far this month have been tied to the hospital.
There are at least 316 active cases in the region, the most there have been at any time so far.
Friday’s update caps off a workweek that has seen at least two deaths and 194 cases reported, and two consecutive days of record case increases — 47 on Wednesday and 52 on Thursday.
It also comes the same day the province announced that the region will be moving from orange-restrict to red-control in its COVID-19 Response Framework effective next week.
Of the 33 new cases reported Friday, 30 are from London and one each are from Lucan Biddulph, Middlesex Centre and Strathroy-Caradoc.
Those infected span every age group tracked by the health unit, with people in their 20s and 30s appearing the most.
Three people are aged 19 or younger, nine are in their 20s, seven are in their 30s, three are in their 40s, two each are in their 50s and 60s, five are in their 70s and two are aged 80 or older.
Fifteen cases have their exposure source listed as an outbreak, while 14 are due to close contact with another positive case. Two cases have no known link, while two have their source listed as pending or undetermined.
It’s also unclear how many, if any, are among the large number of cases linked to outbreaks at University Hospital. Some cases may not be confirmed associated with the hospital until days later with case followup.
The region has reported at least 364 cases since Dec. 1, more than were reported in every month during the pandemic except for November. It’s also more than what was reported in May, June, July and August put together.
The steady influx of new cases, coupled with numerous outbreak declarations, including at University Hospital and several area schools, has prompted the province to shift the London-Middlesex region into the more restrictive red-control tier of its COVID-19 Response Framework.
The change will become effective at 12:01 a.m. on Monday.
With the move come stricter size limits for social gatherings and increased restrictions on businesses.
Social gatherings and organized public events where physical distancing can be maintained are now limited to five people indoors and 25 outdoors.
Bars and restaurants will now only be able to seat a maximum of 10 patrons indoors, and dancing, singing and live music will be prohibited. The province says outdoor dining, takeout, drive-thru and delivery is permitted, including alcohol.
Gyms and fitness studios will only be allowed to have a maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 outdoors in classes, and 10 people indoors in areas with weights or exercise equipment.
In addition, team sports must not be practised or played (except for training), and activities that may result in people coming within two metres of each other are prohibited.
The province says movie theatres must be closed, except drive-ins, and performing arts facilities must be closed to spectators. Rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcast event, however, is still permitted, it says.
Full details on what comes with a move to red-control can be found in the framework document itself.
As of Friday, the region’s seven-day average for new cases stands at 36.57, up from 35.28 on Thursday. The 14-day average stands at 33.42, up from 32.21 Thursday.
According to the health unit, 1,873 cases have been reported in London since the pandemic began, while 41 have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 40 in Middlesex Centre and 34 in Thames Centre.
Lucan Biddulph has seen 12, North Middlesex eight, Southwest Middlesex two and Newbury one.
The number of active COVID-19 inpatients in the care of London Health Sciences Centre has declined for a second day to 39 from 44 on Thursday. A 57 patient high was reported Wednesday.
Fewer than five people are in critical or intensive care, according to LHSC.
Current staff infections have also declined, down to 51 from 57 the day prior. Most of those are linked to outbreaks at University Hospital.
No COVID-19 inpatients were in the care of St. Joseph’s Health Care London as of Sunday, its most recent update. The organization says it will post an update when and if numbers change. Only one active COVID-19 case is counted among its workforce as of that last update.
According to the MLHU, at least 413 people have been admitted to the hospital due to the coronavirus during the pandemic.
At least 43 people have been admitted to intensive care during the pandemic, the health unit says.
One new institutional outbreak has been reported in the region, according to the health unit.
The outbreak was declared on Thursday at Chelsey Park on the second floor of its long-term care facility. Few other details have been reported.
Elsewhere, outbreaks also remain active at two other seniors’ facilities — Country Terrace (Woodcrest area) and McCormick Home (Evergreen Walk area).
Elsewhere, multiple outbreaks remain active at University Hospital, according to the health unit.
As of Friday, eight units of the hospital and one office area are currently under an outbreak declaration, the health unit says.
Since Nov. 10, a total of at least 73 patients and 71 staff — 144 combined — have tested positive as a result of outbreaks at the hospital, and at least 14 people have died.
The most recent outbreak to be declared at the hospital occurred on Wednesday in 8IP General Surgery. It’s unclear how many patients have been infected as a result.
LHSC says the 8IP outbreak is separate from one declared on Dec. 5 in 5IP Cardiology, and in the cardiology offices on the sixth floor.
In addition, LHSC says both of those outbreaks are separate from a large outbreak declared on Nov. 10 in 4IP General Medicine — an outbreak which has since spread to five other units: 4TU Multi-Organ Transplant Unit, 6IP Acute/Decant Medicine, 6IP Cardiovascular Surgery, 9IP Sub-Acute Medicine and 10IP Palliative Care/Sub-Acute Medicine.
LHSC won’t say how many cases or deaths may be attributed to each unit, however at least 110 cases and 12 deaths had been linked to units impacted by the Nov. 10 outbreak as of last Friday.
Non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries remain postponed at the hospital, while ambulatory or outpatient activity remains reduced to only urgent matters.
Previously the hospital experienced a smaller outbreak in 9IP Orthopedics. That outbreak, declared Nov. 11, was tied to six cases and was later declared over.
Since March, the region has seen at least 60 institutional outbreaks in London and Middlesex, including at least 43 at local seniors’ facilities.
The number of school cases in the region rose late Thursday after the London District Catholic School Board reported new cases at its schools.
The cases were reported at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Elementary School and at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Elementary School, which already had an active case, reported Dec. 6.
As a result, the health unit says it has declared an outbreak at the school. Few other details are known, but the health unit says the school will remain open.
“Only staff and students in classrooms identified as having had close contact with the cases will be excluded from attending school,” the health unit said in a statement.
The outbreak joins several others that remain active at schools as of Friday, including at Ashley Oaks Public School, Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, Sir Arthur Currie Public School and Westminster Secondary School. Those schools remain open as well.
An outbreak is also still active at St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School, despite the last active case at the school being declared resolved as of Friday.
School-linked cases have been reported the last 10 days in a row. Any cases reported Friday will come later in the day from the school boards themselves and will be posted to the health unit’s online database on Saturday.
As of Friday, at least 29 cases are active involving schools in the region.
- Five cases are active at Westminster Secondary School. An outbreak declaration is active.
- Four cases are active at Ashley Oaks Public School. An outbreak declaration is active.
- Four cases are active at Sir Arthur Public School. An outbreak declaration is active.
- Two cases are active at London Christian High, a private religious school.
- Two cases are active at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School. An outbreak declaration is active.
- One case is active at C.C. Carrothers Public School.
- One case is active at London Central Secondary School.
- One case is active at Rick Hansen Public School.
- One case is active at Ryerson Public School.
- One case is active at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School.
- One case is active at Sir George Etienne Cartier Public School.
- One case is active at St. John French Immersion Catholic Elementary School.
- One case is active at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School.
- One case is active at Stoney Creek Public School.
- One case is active at Westmount Public School.
The region has seen at least 77 school cases reported since the beginning of September. Thirty of them have been reported just this month.
Meantime, in the post-secondary setting, two student residence outbreaks declared three weeks ago at Western University remain active, according to the health unit.
The outbreaks are located at Perth Hall and Saugeen-Maitland Hall, and were declared active on Nov. 21 and Nov. 19, respectively.
Recent resolved school cases by date they were reported:
- Nov. 20 at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School involving one student.
- Nov. 21 and 22 at Catholic Central High School involving two students.
- Nov. 23 at Lord Dorchester Secondary School involving one student.
- Nov. 28 at John Paul II Catholic Secondary School involving one student.
- Nov. 28 at St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Elementary School involving one student.
- Dec. 1 at St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School involving one student.
At least 10,010 people were tested for the coronavirus during the week of Nov. 29, according to the most recent testing figures issued by the health unit.
The tally was a notable increase from the 8,408 reported the week prior.
The region’s test per cent positivity rate stood at 2.1 per cent as of the week of Nov. 28, up from 1.7 per cent the week before.
The city’s two dedicated assessment centres, Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, continue to operate normally, both by appointment only.
Carling Heights has seen a recent uptick in visits, recording an average of 428 visits over five days from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, up from 381 between Nov. 23 and 27.
At Oakridge Arena, numbers have been largely stable. The centre recorded a five-day average of 319 visits from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 compared to 318 between Nov. 23 and 27.
Appointment testing for certain asymptomatic people is also continuing at eight local pharmacies.
Ontario is reporting 1,848 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, and 45 new deaths due to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 469 cases are in Toronto, 386 in Peel Region, 205 in York Region, and 106 in Windsor-Essex.
In the province’s long-term care homes, 604 residents currently have COVID-19 and 29 new deaths have been reported Friday.
The province says 131 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.
It also reported 151 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 125 among students.
Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 878 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.
Meanwhile, Ontario is expected to provide an update later Friday on its plans to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine.
The province has said it will begin immunizations with its first shipment of 6,000 doses on Tuesday.
Retired general Rick Hiller says the University Health Network in Toronto and the Ottawa Hospital will administer the first shots to health-care workers.
An additional 90,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected later this month in the province are to be provided to 13 hospitals across Ontario.
Hillier says the province also expects to receive between 30,000 and 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the new year, pending its approval by Health Canada.
— With files from The Canadian Press
— Note: This article will be updated with figures from neighbouring areas.
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