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London Transit Commission reports COVID-19 cases among several employees – London

The London Transit Commission says several employees have been sent home to isolate and recover after they tested positive for COVID-19.

General manager Kelly Paleczny says the cases began popping up late last week with the latest arriving early this week.

As of Wednesday, Paleczny says seven employees have tested positive for the virus.

Read more: LTC ramping up bus frequency as part of 2021 service plan

“Based on the information that we have, that we’ve gathered from employees, we don’t see any evidence that any of the cases are linked to one another,” Paleczny said, adding that she is not able to reveal where the employees worked.

“I can’t just because it’s such a small number. If I name departments, individuals will be identified.”

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Paleczny says the infections have not had any impact on service levels for local transit. The LTC is working with the Middlesex-London Health Unit in relation to the cases.

Read more: Ontario government workers get paid COVID-19 vaccine time, but why aren’t all private-sector workers?

The news comes as the LTC made it mandatory for its drivers to wear masks at all times while on buses, including when they are behind plexglass barriers.

Paleczny says the protocol change is not related to the recent infections, but rather comes in response to a surge in cases throughout the community.

Global News has reached out to the Amalgamated Transit Union Division 741 who represents LTC drivers and they did not respond.

Click to play video: 'Overcrowding Toronto buses raise COVID-19 variant concerns among transit users, drivers' Overcrowding Toronto buses raise COVID-19 variant concerns among transit users, drivers
Overcrowding Toronto buses raise COVID-19 variant concerns among transit users, drivers

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to defer cases due to COVID-19 pandemic

Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has directed courts to defer as many matters as possible due to the pandemic.

Chief Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz issued a notice to the profession and the public on Tuesday saying courts should reduce the number of staff, lawyers or parties required to leave their homes.

Morawetz says virtual hearings should also be deferred.

He says courts will focus on the most serious child protection matters, urgent family matters, critical criminal matters and urgent commercial or economic matters.

He says proceedings that are in progress may continue subject to the discretion of the judge.

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Morawetz says the thoughts of staff and parties should be taken into account and alternate arrangements made for those who do not want to go to the courthouse.

The notice comes as Ontario remains under a stay-at-home order.

Click to play video: 'COVID-compliant courts aim to clear backlog of jury trials' COVID-compliant courts aim to clear backlog of jury trials
COVID-compliant courts aim to clear backlog of jury trials – Apr 4, 2021

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Ontario reports more than 4,200 new COVID-19 cases, 32 deaths

Ontario is reporting 4,212 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The provincial total now stands at 429,123.

Wednesday’s case count has jumped back into the 4,000s after Tuesday recorded 3,469 new cases, although more tests were processed. Prior to that, cases were above 4,000 for the last six days.

According to Wednesday’s report, 1,249 cases were recorded in Toronto, 771 in Peel Region, 386 in York Region, 276 in Hamilton, 214 in Durham Region and 201 in Niagara.

All other local public health units reported fewer than 200 new cases in the provincial report.

The death toll in the province has risen to 7,789 as 32 more deaths were recorded.

Read more: Ontario Premier Doug Ford in isolation after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

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Meanwhile, 378,417 Ontario residents were reported to have recovered from COVID-19, which is about 88 per cent of known cases. Resolved cases increased by 4,204 from the previous day.

Ontario reported 2,335 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 (down by 25 from the previous day) with an all-time high of 790 patients in intensive care units (up by 17) and 566 patients in ICUs on a ventilator (up by 29).

Active cases in Ontario now stand at 42,917 — down slightly from the previous day when it was at 42,941, but up from April 14 when it was at 36,808. At the peak of the second wave coronavirus surge in January, active cases hit just above 30,000.

The government said 51,877 tests were processed in the last 24 hours. There is currently a backlog of 32,119 tests awaiting results. A total of 13,668,503 tests have been completed since the start of the pandemic.

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Test positivity for Wednesday was 7.9 per cent. That figure is down from Tuesday’s at 10 per cent, and is down from last week when it was 8.6 per cent.

Read more: COVID-19: Ford government hints at some sort of paid sick leave support after months of refusal

As of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, a total of 4,131,882 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered. That marks an increase of 136,695 vaccines in the last day, the most vaccines administered within a 24-hour period. There are 349,396 people fully vaccinated with two doses.

Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson are the vaccines currently approved in Canada. The first three require two shots administered several weeks apart while the fourth requires only one. J & J vaccines have not yet arrived in Canada.

— More to come.

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© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Judge to release decision on request to delay Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case 

A judge is scheduled to release her decision Wednesday on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case.

The hearings were set to begin next week but lawyers for Meng say they need more time to review documents related to the case obtained through a Hong Kong court.

Read more: Lawyers for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou ask judge for adjournment in final extradition hearings

They asked Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes on Monday to adjourn proceedings until Aug. 3, which they argued would also allow time for the third wave of COVID-19 to subside.

But lawyers for Canada’s attorney general said there’s no justification to delay proceedings in the high-profile case, especially given the public interest.

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They say Meng’s legal team hasn’t provided any evidence that the documents will contain relevant material and they accused her lawyers of trying to build arguments more appropriate for her criminal trial in the United States.

Meng was arrested at Vancouver’s airport in 2018 at the request of the United States to face fraud charges related to America’s sanctions against Iran, which both she and Huawei deny.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Homan drops opener at Players’ Championship a day after winning 11th Grand Slam title

Scotland’s Bruce Mouat got the better of Brendan Bottcher for the second time in two days.

Mouat toppled Bottcher 9-6 on Tuesday in round-robin action at the Princess Auto Players’ Championship — one day after beating the Edmonton-based rink in the final of the Humpty’s Champion Cup.

Bottcher scored three in the second end on Tuesday for an early 3-0 lead, but Mouat chipped away and then sealed the victory with a five spot in the eighth end.

Meanwhile, a day after winning a record 11th Grand Slam of Curling title, Ontario’s Rachel Homan fell to Russia’s Alina Kovaleva in the opening draw of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.

READ MORE: Einarson crowned Scotties champ two years in a row, edges Homan 9-7 

Kovaleva’s team broke open a 3-3 tie with three points in the fifth end.

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Homan’s Ottawa-based team was coming off a 6-3 win over Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni on Monday night in the final of the Humpty’s Champions Cup.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba curling clubs push for return to recreational gameplay' Manitoba curling clubs push for return to recreational gameplay
Manitoba curling clubs push for return to recreational gameplay – Mar 30, 2021

Kerri Einarson — the Canadian national champion from Gimli, Man. — Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones, Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg, South Korea’s Minji Kim and Tirinzoni were Day 1 winner on the women’s side.

World champion Niklas Edin of Sweden, Calgary’s Kevin Koe, Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs, Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador and Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller started 1-0 in men’s play.

Round-robin play continues on Wednesday.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Teenage Black girl shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio: officials – National

Columbus police shot and killed a teenage girl who swung at two other people with a knife Tuesday, according to bodycam footage from the officer who fired the shots just minutes before the verdict in George Floyd’s killing was read.

Officials with the Columbus Division of Police showed a segment of the footage Tuesday night just hours after the shooting took place in a neighbourhood on the city’s east side. The decision to swiftly release the video was a departure from protocol as the force faces immense scrutiny from the public following a series of recent high-profile police killings that have led to clashes.

The 10-second clip begins with the officer getting out of his car at a house where police had been dispatched after someone called 911 saying they were being physically threatened, Interim Police Chief Michael Woods said at the news conference. The officer takes a few steps toward a group of people in the driveway when the girl, who was Black, starts swinging a knife wildly at another girl or woman, who falls backward. The officer shouts several times to get down.

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The girl with the knife then charges at another girl or woman who is pinned against a car.

Read more: Chicago teen shot by police after putting hands up without gun, video shows

From a few feet away, with people on either side of him, the officer fires four shots, and the teen slumps to the ground. A black-handled blade similar to a kitchen knife or steak knife lies on the sidewalk next to her.

A man immediately yells at the officer, “You didn’t have to shoot her! She’s just a kid, man!”

The officer responds, “She had a knife. She just went at her.”

The race of the officer wasn’t clear.

The girl was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said. It remains unclear if anyone else was injured.

Police did not identify the girl or her age Tuesday. One family member said she was 15, while another said she was 16.

Click to play video: 'Renewed calls for police reform after Chicago boy, 13, killed by officer' Renewed calls for police reform after Chicago boy, 13, killed by officer
Renewed calls for police reform after Chicago boy, 13, killed by officer

The shooting happened minutes before the verdict in the killing of George Floyd was announced. Protesters who had gathered peacefully after that verdict to call for police reform and accountability quickly shifted their focus to the killing of the girl. The crowd of about 100 could be heard chanting outside police headquarters as city officials offered their condolences to the family and acknowledged the rarity of showing bodycam footage so soon after a police shooting.

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Woods said state law allows police to use deadly force to protect themselves or others, and investigators will determine whether this shooting was such an instance.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther mourned the loss of the young victim but defended the officer’s use of deadly force.

“We know based on this footage the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community,” he told reporters.

Read more: Police told to scale back tactics in Daunte Wright protests, but violence continues

Meanwhile, outside the briefing, hundreds of protesters pushed past barriers outside police headquarters and approached officers as city officials were showing the bodycam video inside. Many chanted, “Say her name!” While others signified the victim’s age by yelling, “she was just a kid!” Officers with bicycles pushed protesters back and threatened to deploy pepper spray on the crowd.

The shooting happened about 25 minutes before a judge read the verdict convicting former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in the killing of Floyd. It also took place less than 5 miles from where the funeral for Andre Hill, who was killed by another Columbus police officer in December, was held earlier this year. The officer in Hill’s case, Adam Coy, a 19-year veteran of the force, is now facing trial for murder, with the next hearing scheduled for April 28.

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Less than three weeks before Hill was killed, a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy fatally shot 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. in Columbus. The case remains under federal investigation.

Last week, Columbus police shot and killed a man who was in a hospital emergency room with a gun on him. Officials are continuing an investigation into that shooting.

Click to play video: 'Daunte Wright’s family emotionally demands accountability for his killing' Daunte Wright’s family emotionally demands accountability for his killing
Daunte Wright’s family emotionally demands accountability for his killing

Kimberly Shepherd, 50, who has lived in the neighbourhood where Tuesday’s shooting took place for 17 years, said she knew the teenage victim.

“The neighbourhood has definitely went through its changes, but nothing like this,” Shepherd said of the shooting. “This is the worst thing that has ever happened out here and unfortunately it is at the hands of police.”

Shepherd and her neighbour Jayme Jones, 51, had celebrated the guilty verdict of Chauvin. But things changed quickly, she said.

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“We were happy about the verdict. But you couldn’t even enjoy that,” Shepherd said. “Because as you’re getting one phone call that he was guilty, I’m getting the next phone call that this is happening in my neighbourhood.”

Kryska reported from Hoboken, New Jersey.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Ex-B.C. premier Christy Clark says she wasn’t warned of ‘spike’ in money laundering until 2015

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark was pressed to answer in the province’s money laundering inquiry how much she knew about increasing volumes of suspected drug cash in B.C. casinos, whether she recognized this cash was boosting government revenue, and whether she did anything to intervene.

On Tuesday, Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, was the first of a number of senior B.C. politicians scheduled to testify at the inquiry, which is mandated to determine whether governments, police and regulators failed to tackle money laundering as it took root in B.C.’s economy.

The Cullen Commission has previously heard that suspicious cash transactions driven by high rollers, transnational gangsters and underground bankers grew exponentially from 2010 in B.C. casinos, and that Rich Coleman, the former gaming minister, was directly warned of surging dirty-money concerns by his subordinates at the gaming regulator at a 2010 meeting.

By late 2014, these Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch investigators were forecasting that suspected drug-money laundering in B.C.’s casinos would reach $200 million per year.

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Read more: BC Lottery Corp. didn’t block mysterious casino cash due to ‘hundreds of millions’ in estimated losses: inquiry

But during her examination, Clark said it wasn’t until 2015, after her then-finance minister Mike de Jong took casinos over from Coleman, that she was directly informed of an “all-time high” spike in suspicious cash transactions. Within two weeks of de Jong’s report, Clark said, the pair worked together to implement the Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team, a special casino-crime police task force.

The commission has previously heard there had been a complete void for police enforcement in B.C. government casinos after 2009, when the BC Liberals and Coleman decided to disband a provincial anti-illegal gaming police unit.

Read more: Former BC Liberal minister accused of letting gangs launder money in government casinos

Commission lawyer Patrick McGowan grilled Clark on whether she was aware from 2011 of increasingly urgent reports coming from the enforcement branch and casino surveillance units, showing that bags of $20 bills were being commonly used by high rollers to buy casino chips and that the cash was dropped off inside or near casinos.

“If you had been told that someone was dropping off a shopping bag at midnight containing $200,000 in $20 bills and that was being accepted by service providers, would that have been something you thought was appropriate?” McGowan asked Clark. “If your minister had told you that was happening, would you have raised some concern or intervened?”

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“I can’t answer questions about what might have happened, but I can say we took significant actions,” Clark, who is now a senior adviser with business law firm Bennett Jones, said.

McGowan also asked if Clark was aware of her government’s decision to raise betting limits for baccarat high rollers to $100,000 per hand in 2013, even while the enforcement branch was escalating concerns that transnational gangs were using those players and B.C. casinos to launder cash.

Read more: BC Lottery Corp. CEO says casino bet limits rose to $100K despite link to underground banks

Clark said she wasn’t aware of the decision.

“The idea was never to get revenue at the expense of public safety or public confidence in our casino system,” she said.

In one tense series of questions, McGowan repeatedly asked whether Clark had ever questioned whether the surging volumes of cash that had been reported to the BC Lottery Corporation as suspicious were accepted by B.C. casinos or refused. In fact, the vast majority of these suspicious transactions were accepted, McGowan noted.

“Did you ever inquire whether these funds were accepted by casinos and recorded as revenue for province?” he asked.

“I think I already answered that question,” Clark said, while pointing to her decision to start the joint investigation team after 2015.

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“You keep saying you have answered the question, and with respect, I don’t think you have,” McGowan shot back. “It’s a relatively simple one. Did you ask whether this money that was recorded as suspicious was accepted by casinos and ultimately gamed with, and contributed to the provincial revenue? Or (whether the cash was) refused? Did you make that inquiry?”

“I didn’t,” Clark said. “I knew that we were going to do what we did instead. Which was, we created (the joint team). If your question is, ‘Did I do something about it?’, my answer is yes.”

Click to play video: 'Former V.I.P. gambler and former dealer testify at Cullen Commission' Former V.I.P. gambler and former dealer testify at Cullen Commission
Former V.I.P. gambler and former dealer testify at Cullen Commission – Mar 3, 2021

Clark said her government’s move to start the joint team after 2015 ultimately stemmed from a recommendation made in an anti-money laundering report that was completed for then-minister Coleman in 2011.

Coleman had called for the report, the inquiry has heard, after a series of media reports in 2011 that pointed to one RCMP officer’s concerns about massive and suspicious cash transactions in Vancouver-area casinos.

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“Is there any reason if (the suspicious cash problem) was deemed urgent, why (implementing the team) couldn’t have been done in 2011 rather than 2015?” McGowan asked Clark.

She said she and de Jong moved with “lightening speed” to create the unit as soon as de Jong received a report showing suspicious cash spiking to an all-time high in B.C. Lottery Corp. casinos.

Meanwhile, McGowan and a lawyer for Transparency International Canada asked Clark whether her government had taken any actions to study whether money laundering could be inflating B.C. housing prices.

Clark said there had been no reason to because experts had informed her government that B.C.’s economic growth, low interest rates, and high rates of immigration were the cause of its surging real estate values, and not money laundering.

The hearings will continue, with de Jong scheduled to testify on Friday, and Coleman and current B.C. Attorney General David Eby scheduled the following week.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Vernon RCMP seeking public help identifying robbery suspect – Okanagan

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP is seeking public assistance identifying a man who allegedly robbed a Vernon business.

On April 14, around 8 p.m., a man stole two bottles of liquor from a business in the 2900 block of 30th Street, according to police.

Read more: Former Vernon pharmacist charged with manslaughter awaits judge’s decision on bail

The thief allegedly was brandished a weapon and threatened an employee after the liquor theft.

The suspect then fled on foot.

“(Business) staff immediately called police and with the assistance of the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Police Dog Services, officers responded to the location and attempted to track the man,” said Const. Chris Terleski, a Vernon North Okanagan RCMP officer.

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“Police were unable to locate the individual and are now turning to the public for their help.”

Read more: RCMP investigating sudden death in Vernon ,B.C.

The suspect is described as:

  • A Caucasian male
  • Around 35-years-old
  • Wearing black jacket, black pants with blue bandana face covering

Police are asking anyone with information to contact them or Crime Stoppers.

Click to play video: 'North Okanagan senior rescued from house fire' North Okanagan senior rescued from house fire
North Okanagan senior rescued from house fire

COVID-19: 74 new cases in London-Middlesex; 1 death, 12 cases in Elgin-Oxford – London

Jump to: HospitalizationsOutbreaksSchoolsVaccinations and TestingOntarioElgin and OxfordHuron and PerthSarnia and Lambton


Seventy-four new COVID-19 cases were reported in London-Middlesex on Tuesday, marking the third day in a row that the region has recorded fewer than 100 cases — one of only six this month.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 9,381, of which 8,122 have resolved, an increase of 119 from the day before. At least 195 deaths have been reported, most recently on Monday. At least six deaths have been recorded this month.

At least 1,064 cases are currently active in the region.

April has been the second-worst month for cases in London-Middlesex during the pandemic with at least 2,197, behind January with 2,332. A record 176 cases were reported on April 13.

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As of Tuesday, the region’s rolling seven-day case average stands at 114, down from 125 the seven days previous. During the same seven-day period last month, the average was around 21.

At least 7.7 per cent of tests in London and Middlesex were coming back positive as of the week of April 4, the most recent data released by MLHU.

According to data from the non-profit group ICES, the two postal codes with the highest positivity rates were N6A (31.5 per cent) and N6M (11 per cent). Updated figures are expected this week.

Read more: ‘Hospitals are buckling’: Ontario’s science table makes urgent push for stronger COVID-19 measures

Of the 74 new cases Tuesday, 71 are from London while two are from Middlesex County. One case is pending location data.

As has been the case in recent weeks, those infected skew younger, with nearly half — 35 — involving people under the age of 30.

At least 17 cases involve people 19 and younger; 18 are in their 20s; 11 are in their 30s; eight are in their 40s; 13 are in their 50s; five are in their 70s; one is in their 70s; and one is 80 or older.

Exposure source data is pending or undetermined for 39 of the cases, but at least 22 are listed as being due to close contact, while 11 have no known link, and two are outbreak-related.

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Read more: What you can and can’t do once you’ve received your 1st COVID-19 vaccine dose

The number of variant cases in London-Middlesex stands at 1,169, an increase of 101 from the previous day.

At least 1,167 cases involve the B.1.1.7 variant that was first detected in the U.K. At least two cases have been confirmed to be the P.1 variant, first found in Brazil. The 101 new cases are all B.1.1.7 cases.

It should be noted that the health unit’s overall variant tally now includes cases that are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant as well as cases that underwent genomic analysis and were confirmed to be a variant.

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.
  • Since last month, however, the province has stopped conducting genomic analysis on cases that screen positive for just the N501Y mutation. Now, 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 mutations 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.

The number of cases that have screened positive for a variant-associated spike protein mutation, but which have not yet undergone genomic analysis, stands at 202, five more than the day before. (This number will fluctuate up and down as cases are analyzed and moved to the main variant tally.)

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Of those 202 cases, at least 72 have been found to have the E484K spike protein mutation and are undergoing genomic analysis. (Of those 72, at least 60 have the N501Y mutation as well.)

The remaining 130 cases initially screened positive for just N501Y, but have not had the E484K mutation ruled out yet. It’s unclear if or when these cases may be added to the main variant tally.

Click to play video: 'Scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table shares concerns about recent restrictive measures' Scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table shares concerns about recent restrictive measures
Scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table shares concerns about recent restrictive measures

During Monday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, struck a more positive tone about the lower recent case numbers, but stressed the importance of following the restrictions.

“The numbers really have been spiking almost straight up for weeks, and over the last few days, you’ve seen that spike start to reduce,” he said.

“[We’re] still seeing cases over 4,000 a day at the provincial level, but that’s not a major jump, as we have been seeing previously… All of that pointing to the fact that the lockdown, shut down, stay-at-home measures are making a big difference and that people are following them.”

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Asked why people under the age of 30 were accounting for so many cases with post-secondary students done their semester and returning home, Mackie said it would take time for that to be reflected in the numbers.

“We’re certainly seeing less there than we were a week or two ago, and part of that is people moving out of the community,” he said. The decrease may be the result of behavioural changes because of outbreaks and calls for younger people to stay home, he said.

“That said, you know, we’re probably diagnosing cases from activity that happened days or weeks ago, so we will see those numbers continue on for some time.”

It’s still not clear whether the province will designate the N6A postal code, or any other area of London, a COVID-19 hot spot, opening it up to more resources, such as vaccine doses, and allowing for younger groups to get the shot.

The N6A postal code covers part of Western University’s campus, off-campus student neighbourhoods and about half of Old North, as well as much of the downtown core and Richmond Row.

Though the province hasn’t designated it as such, statistically speaking it is a definite hot spot. According to the most recent data from the non-profit health research firm ICES, at least 31.5 per cent of cases there were coming back positive as of April 10, the most of any postal code in the province.

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Last week, London Mayor Ed Holder said the province had “heard very clearly” that London should be recognized as a hot spot.

Read more: OHL officially cancels the 2020-21 season

At least 8,360 cases have been confirmed in the City of London since the pandemic began, while 312 have been in Middlesex Centre.

Elsewhere, 278 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 120 in Thames Centre, 60 in Lucan Biddulph, 53 in North Middlesex, 52 in Southwest Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.

At least 130 cases have pending location information.

Hospitalizations

At least 86 people with COVID-19 are in the care of London Health Sciences Centre, according to the organization. The figure is current as of 3 p.m. Monday. No newer numbers were available.

At least 38 patients are being cared for in critical/intensive care and at least nine staff are currently positive.

During Monday’s briefing, Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s chief medical officer, reported that at least 53 of the COVID-19 patients were from London-Middlesex, while the remaining 33 were from out of region, largely from the GTA.

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Of those in intensive care at the time, at least 30 were on ventilators and at least 23 were from out of region.

The organization, he said, was caring for the largest number of COVID-19 patients it has seen at one time since the pandemic began.

Click to play video: 'U.S. upgrades Canada to ‘do not travel’ status as COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb' U.S. upgrades Canada to ‘do not travel’ status as COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb
U.S. upgrades Canada to ‘do not travel’ status as COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb

As of early Monday afternoon, at least 675 medical, surgical, and ICU patients were in LSHC’s care at both University and Victoria hospitals, meaning COVID-19 patients made up roughly 12.75 per cent of that total.

LHSC, Dukelow said, anticipates receiving more COVID-19 patients locally and from other centres in the province. Likely two to five patients were expected from the GTA for the duration of the week, on a daily basis, along with local patients, he said.

LHSC recently opened at least 18 additional ICU beds to meet capacity, including eight at Victoria Hospital in what is normally a medical day unit, and ten at University Hospital in what is normally a day surgery prep area, according to the organization.

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Factoring in those beds, the LHSC’s critical care capacity was sitting around 70 per cent at both University and Victoria hospitals as of early Monday afternoon.

Surgical capacity at LHSC was expected to be between 50 and 60 per cent of normal levels this week as the organization opens up more medical beds for COVID-19 patients, and to free up staff to help open new ICU beds, he said.

Read more: Charges laid 1 month after ‘freedom’ rally in downtown London, Ont.

No COVID-19 patients were reported to be in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital, however, at least four cases are active within St. Joseph’s Health Care London.

Two cases, one patient and one staff, are linked to an ongoing outbreak at Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building. Two other active staff cases are not outbreak-related.

At least 466 people in London-Middlesex have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 81 in intensive care, the health unit says.

Outbreaks

No new institutional outbreaks have been declared or resolved, but an outbreak at London’s jail has grown significantly, provincial data shows.

At least 28 inmate cases were listed as active there as of Friday, the highest number of active inmate cases seen so far, according to new data posted by the Ontario government late Monday.

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At least four staff cases were listed as active at the jail as of early last week.

The outbreak has been linked to at least 64 inmate and 34 staff cases since it was declared on Jan. 18.

Prior to its declaration, EMDC had only seen two inmate cases.

980 CPFL has reached out to the Ministry of the Solicitor General for comment.

Read more: Science suggests low risk of outdoor COVID-19 transmission. Here’s why

Elsewhere, one outbreak is currently active at Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building in its G5 area.

St. Joseph’s Health Care London says at least two cases, one patient and one staff, are active as a result of the outbreak at Parkwood.

Meanwhile, no outbreaks are currently active at any local long-term care or retirement home, the health unit says.

An outbreak also remains at Cargill’s London facility. It’s been linked to at least 92 cases as of late last week.

Details on the Western University outbreaks can be found below.

Schools

While schools across Ontario are engaged in online learning, at least two new cases have been reported by local schools.

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One case is associated with Arthur Stringer Public School and Riverside Public School, the Thames Valley District School Board reported late Monday. They’re among 20 cases active involving local schools. A full list can be found on the MLHU website.

Meanwhile, outbreaks remain active at:

  • East Carling Public School
  • École élémentaire catholique Frère André
  • Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School
  • Providence Reformed Collegiate
  • St. Francis School
  • St. Anne’s Catholic School

At least 342 cases associated with elementary and secondary schools have been reported in London-Middlesex during the pandemic, according to the health unit.

At least 48 cases have been reported involving child care and early years settings.

Eight are active associated with four facilities.

Five are linked to Faith Day Nursery, where an outbreak has been active since April 13.

Elsewhere, one case each has been linked with Blossoms Early Childhood Education – East; London French Day Care Centre Inc.; and Stoneybrook Early Childhood Learning Centre – London Bridge.

Meanwhile, an outbreak declaration remains active at Kidorable Child Care Centre from April 8, however, no cases are currently active there.

Read more: U.S. upgrades Canada to ‘do not travel’ status amid soaring COVID-19 numbers

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In post-secondary, outbreaks remain active in eight student residences linked to Western University, according to the health unit.

The outbreaks together (including the King’s Common outbreak which was declared over on Sunday) have been linked to more than 190 cases.

Updated case figures for the active outbreaks are as follows:

  • London Hall – 6
  • Ontario Hall – 8
  • Essex Hall – 12
  • Elgin Hall – 15
  • Delaware Hall -19 + 1 from out of area who did not get tested
  • Perth Hall – 28
  • Medway-Sydenham Hall – 33
  • Saugeen-Maitland Hall – 54 + 3 probable cases who have not yet been tested.

“All of the Western outbreaks have been identified with variants of concern, all with the (N501Y spike protein mutation) and most of them negative for the E484K mutation,” Mackie said.

Vaccinations and Testing

The local vaccination campaign continues on, with more than 125,000 doses administered so far.

People aged 60 and older continue to be eligible to receive a shot at one of the region’s three operating mass vaccination clinics.

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 three mass vaccination clinics. Online appointments are encouraged due to the high call volume.

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More information on eligibility can be found on the MLHU’s website.

Read more: COVID-19: Londoners urged to take advantage of expanded access to AstraZeneca vaccine

During Monday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said at least 80 per cent of people aged 80-plus had received a vaccine, while at least 73 per cent of people aged 75-79 had gotten a shot.

He also noted that though the region was seeing a boost in Pfizer doses this week due to its work vaccinating urban Indigenous populations, a 25 per cent drop (about 3,500 doses) was expected next week.

Mackie said the dip wasn’t expected to impact plans to open eligibility to more groups of people this week, and they weren’t expected to result in the closure of a vaccination clinic, however “if we saw further reductions, it might.”

The Moderna vaccine, he added, saw “minimal contribution” to the local vaccination campaign, and that doses have been “pretty flat at this point,” meaning a major shipment delay to Canada won’t have a major impact either.

Click to play video: 'People 40 and older can receive AstraZeneca COVID vaccine in Ontario' People 40 and older can receive AstraZeneca COVID vaccine in Ontario
People 40 and older can receive AstraZeneca COVID vaccine in Ontario

According to the health unit, scheduled second doses are expected to come into play more in the month of May, raising concern that fewer first shots may be given should local vaccine supply not be increased to make up the difference, particularly as the province begins prioritizing vaccine to hot spots.

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An upside, he said, is that more Pfizer doses are expected to come on board in May and June.

“If the national procurement goes as expected, then the second doses required will be dwarfed by the new incoming doses, and we’ll be able to proceed apace with vaccinating people for first doses.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday a contract with Pfizer for eight million additional doses of its vaccine, with the first four million arriving in May. Two million more doses will come in June and July, respectively, and Pfizer is also moving another 400,000 doses from the third quarter into June.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine tracker: How many Canadians are vaccinated?

Outside of the region’s three vaccination clinics, people aged 40 and older are eligible to get the AstraZeneca shot at a participating pharmacy.

A full list of participating pharmacies can be found on the province’s website. Residents are asked to book a spot with the pharmacies themselves.

“My advice to everybody is to seek vaccine wherever and however you can. All of the vaccines are on the scale from very good to excellent. They’re all very safe,” Mackie said, adding people shouldn’t wait to become eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

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“We will not be able to open up to all … Middlesex-London residents over age 16 any time soon. We still have people with high-risk health-care conditions to go through … We still have people who can’t work from home, as another category in Phase 2.”

The region’s two main assessment centres, at Carling Heights and Oakridge Arena, remain open and operating by appointment.

The local test positivity rate stood at 7.7 per cent as of the week of April 4, up from 5.9 the week prior, according to the most recent figures. Updated figures are expected this week.

Ontario

Ontario reported 3,469 cases of COVID-19 and 22 more deaths linked to the virus on Tuesday.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 1,074 new cases in Toronto, 775 in Peel Region, and 406 in York Region.

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Provincial data released last week showed Peel Region — which includes Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon — had the highest COVID-19 positivity rate at 15 per cent, with Toronto coming in second at 11.3 per cent.

The region west of Toronto also had the highest number of weekly new cases per 100,000 residents, the data showed.

One of the public health experts involved in preparing the province’s COVID-19 projections said last fall that the virus is hardest to control in areas such as Brampton where the proportion of essential service workers is higher and households are larger.

Read more: Ontario reports 3,469 new COVID-19 cases, 22 deaths

Officials in one of Ontario’s top COVID-19 hot spots are moving to temporarily close businesses with recent outbreaks of the virus in an effort to rein in surging case counts they said were fuelled by workplace spread.

Peel Region said Tuesday its public health unit will issue an updated order requiring businesses that have seen five or more linked cases in the past 14 days to shut down for 10 days.

Businesses could be told to close as early as Friday, and those affected will be contacted directly, the region said.

Those deemed essential for the well-being of the community, such as businesses in health care and emergency child care, will be exempt from full closure, it said.

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Peel Public Health urged employers ordered to shut down to provide paid sick leave to their staff.

The move comes a day after the Ontario government rejected efforts to bring in paid sick leave for essential workers and shut down non-essential businesses.

The province has faced increasing pressure from health experts and advocates to implement paid sick days and close non-essential workplaces amid a third wave that threatens to overwhelm the health-care system.

The governing Progressive Conservatives shot down Opposition motions on both issues on Monday, and then again on Tuesday.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said inaction by the province has forced Peel’s top doctor to issue orders to protect workers himself.

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Elgin and Oxford

One new death and 12 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Elgin-Oxford, officials with Southwestern Public Health said Tuesday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,209, of which 2,954 have resolved, an increase of 19 from the previous day.

At least 73 deaths have been reported. The most recent death involved a man in his 70s from St. Thomas, said a spokesperson with the health unit.

At least 182 cases are currently active, including 67 in St. Thomas, 37 in Woodstock, and 25 in Tillsonburg. At least four people are currently in hospital, with one in intensive care.

Read more: The federal budget was tabled. Now opposition parties are going to propose rewrites 

The number of variant cases identified in the region currently stands at 294, an increase of 24 from the day before.

Of those, at least 270 have been either confirmed through genomic analysis to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. At least 87 are active.

Cases are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant if they screen positive for only one specific spike protein mutation, named N501Y. The B.1.1.7 variant has been associated with only this mutation.

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The health unit says at least 24 cases have screened positive for the E484K mutation, which has been associated with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively, and are still undergoing genomic analysis. Of those, at least 10 are still active.

Click to play video: 'Ontario police set up checkpoints along borders, begin turning away non-essential travelers' Ontario police set up checkpoints along borders, begin turning away non-essential travelers
Ontario police set up checkpoints along borders, begin turning away non-essential travelers

More than 32,000 residents have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine as of April 11, the most recent figures available. New stats are expected later this week.

Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment at one of the region’s two operating mass vaccination clinics. One is open in St. Thomas and one in Woodstock. A third is planned for Tillsonburg.

Eligibility information can be found on the health unit website.

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At least 10 pharmacies are also doling out doses of the AstraZeneca shot to people 40 and older as part of a provincially run pilot. Appointments should be made directly with a participating pharmacy.

Local health officials are expected to provide an update this week on the distribution of vaccines in the N5H postal code, which was designated a COVID-19 hot spot two weeks ago. The distinction means it is prioritized for more vaccine doses and health officials are able to immunize younger age groups.

The region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Joyce Lock, said last week that the health unit would be working “intensively” within N5H to get doses to those 50 and older as part of the province’s hot spot plan.

Read more: Exercise during COVID-19: Why physical activity can protect from severe illness, death

No new school cases were reported by early Tuesday afternoon in the region.

Full lists of active cases within Elgin-Oxford can be found on the websites of the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board.

Click to play video: 'Criticism over Ontario’s mixed messaging as schools ordered to shift online' Criticism over Ontario’s mixed messaging as schools ordered to shift online
Criticism over Ontario’s mixed messaging as schools ordered to shift online – Apr 13, 2021

Meanwhile, one outbreak has resolved.

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The outbreak had been located at Metcalfe Gardens in St. Thomas and was linked to two cases.

One outbreak remains active, located at Caressant Care Bonnie Place in St. Thomas, tied to three resident and two staff cases.

The health unit says a total of 690 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 581 have been in St. Thomas, 489 in Aylmer and 386 in Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, 220 cases have been in Norwich, 176 in Bayham, 151 in Ingersoll, 129 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 77 in Central Elgin, 75 in Blandford-Blenheim, 70 in Zorra, 62 in South-West Oxford, 34 in Dutton/Dunwich, 27 in Southwold, 24 in West Elgin and 17 in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 3.0 per cent as of the week of April 4, up from 2.1 per cent a week earlier. New numbers are expected this week.

Huron and Perth

Three new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Huron and Perth, local health officials reported on Tuesday.

Two are from North Huron while one is from Goderich, the health unit said.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,531, of which 1,435 have resolved, an increase of eight from the day before. At least 52 deaths have been reported, most recently on April 13.

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As of Tuesday, at least 44 cases are currently active in the region, including at least 13 in North Perth, seven in Stratford, and six in West Perth.

One person is currently in hospital, the health unit says.

Meanwhile, the number of variant cases identified in the region stands at 54, 10 more than the day before.

Of those, at least 22 have been confirmed through genomic analysis to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant.

The rest remain under investigation. Details remain limited, including what spike protein mutations those remaining cases screened positive for. (Those positive for only the N501Y mutation would be presumed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant.)

“We continue to see virus transmission due to people getting together with others from outside their household and not wearing masks or physically distancing while doing so,” health officials said in an update Monday.

“It is very important to continue following public health and workplace safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Variants, which predominate right now, spread much more easily.”

Click to play video: 'Some provinces lower age eligibility for Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine' Some provinces lower age eligibility for Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine
Some provinces lower age eligibility for Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine

At least 34,104 vaccine doses have been administered in the region as of April 18. The tally includes first and second doses.

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The health unit is reporting a 99.8 per cent coverage rate for those aged 80 and older in having had at least one shot. For those 75-79, the tally is 94.6 per cent, and for those 70-74, it’s 100 per cent.

For people aged 65-69, who have been eligible for less time and for whom many appointments are still to come, the tally is 14.9.

“There has been no change to vaccine eligibility in Huron Perth. We continue to work through adults aged 65 and older, highest risk health conditions, and other eligible groups,” officials said in their update.

More information on the local vaccine campaign can be found on the health unit’s website. Those looking to book an appointment are asked to do so via the local booking system or by calling 1-833-753-2098.

People aged 40 and older are also able to receive an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as part of the province’s ongoing pharmacy immunization program.

Local health units are not directly involved in the pharmacy initiative, and residents are asked to contact the pharmacies directly. A list of local participating pharmacies can be found on the province’s website.

Read more: Confusion mounts over AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Ontario amid delay reports

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No new institutional outbreaks have been declared and none resolved. Two are currently active, both at unnamed workplaces in the region.

No new school cases have been reported. At least six are currently active in Huron-Perth, with two associated with F.E. Madill Secondary school, and one each at Jeanne Sauvé Catholic Elementary School, Shakespeare Public School (no school exposure), Stratford District Secondary School (no school exposure), and St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School.

At least 606 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 375 in North Perth and 140 in Perth East, while at least 501 have been reported in Huron County, with 109 in South Huron and 105 in Huron East.

Stratford has reported at least 386 in total, while St. Marys has seen 38.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 1.5 per cent the week of April 4, up from 0.8 the week earlier. Updated numbers are expected later this week.

Sarnia and Lambton

One death and five new COVID-19 cases were reported in Lambton County on Tuesday, local health officials said.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,125, of which 2,986 have resolved, an increase of 19 from the day before.

At least 55 deaths have been recorded since the pandemic began. The most recent involved a person in their 70s who died in hospital, according to the health unit.

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At least 84 cases are considered active in Lambton. At least seven people were hospitalized at Bluewater Health as of Tuesday. According to the hospital, 38 people have died from COVID-19 while in their care.

At least 281 variant cases have been identified in Lambton, an increase of 13 from the day before.

Of those, at least 227 have been either confirmed through genomic analysis to be, or are presumed to be, the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., according to the province.

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 mutations will undergo genomic testing.

The remaining 54 have either screened positive for the E484K mutation and are undergoing genomic analysis, or they have screened positive for N501Y but their E484K status is unknown.

Click to play video: 'Peel medical officer of health talks new workplace measures to combat COVID-19 outbreaks' Peel medical officer of health talks new workplace measures to combat COVID-19 outbreaks
Peel medical officer of health talks new workplace measures to combat COVID-19 outbreaks

At least 35,443 COVID-19 doses had been administered in Lambton as of early last week, the most recent figures available. An updated tally is expected late Tuesday.

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Currently, people aged 60 and older are eligible to receive a shot at a local mass vaccination clinic, along with specified groups outlined in the province’s three-phase rollout.

Eligibility information can be found on the health unit’s website.

Eligible residents are asked to contact the health unit at 519-383-8331, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by visiting the health unit’s website.

Multiple pharmacies in Lambton are also continuing to offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to those 55 and older as part of the province-run pilot program. Residents are asked to book appointments with the pharmacies directly.

Read more: Coronavirus denier Ted Nugent tests positive for COVID-19

It’s unclear exactly how many new school cases may have been reported in Lambton.

The Lambton-Kent District School Board paused public reporting of new cases during the spring break, and says it won’t report new cases during the remote learning period.

One new case was reported by the St. Clair Catholic District School Board at St. Peter Canisius Catholic School.

Figures can be found on the websites of the Lambton-Kent District School Board and St. Clair Catholic District School Board.

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One new outbreak has been declared in the region, located in a student residence of Lambton College in Sarnia. The outbreak, declared on Monday, is tied to three resident cases.

Elsewhere, one other outbreak is active at an unspecified workplace and linked to eight cases. The outbreak was declared on April 7.

The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 2.8 per cent the week of April 4.

At least 140,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Lambton.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Still no expanded sidewalk snow clearing in Hamilton – Hamilton

A majority of city councillors are unwilling to budge on the issue of sidewalk snow clearing in Hamilton.

The latest discussion on the topic has ended with the public works committee voting, 6-4, against an expansion of the program to include 783 laned kilometres of sidewalk along transit routes.

Read more: Winter weather returns as snow set to fall in southern Ontario Wednesday

Opponents say taxpayers can’t afford the added annual cost of $2.3 million, or $12 per household, but Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr thinks they could find savings elsewhere.

Farr said during Monday’s meeting that councillors could re-organize the public works budget and “offset, rather than add to the levy.”

“At least in my ward,” said Farr, “there’s a greater interest for this public works service by the taxpayers versus maybe some other things.”

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Read more: No sidewalk snow-clearing decision in Hamilton as council asks for staff report

The motion to clear more sidewalks after a snowfall of five centimetres or more was moved by Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann, who said it’s about “enabling our cities to be a place where our residents can thrive.”

She argued that the current rules, requiring residents to clear sidewalks around their properties within 24 hours after a snow event, are not working “consistently”.

The result, said Nann, is “shutting in seniors, people with disabilities, making our streets totally inaccessible for parents with strollers and households that do not have access to personal vehicles.”

Read more: Snowy sidewalks still the responsibility of Hamilton homeowners this winter

Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins, however, said “it’s just not a service we can afford at this point in time.”

Collins also argued that many residents don’t have sidewalks, and “we’d essentially be charging people in certain neighbourhoods and streets who don’t have sidewalks for snow clearing” when they don’t receive the service.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.