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COVID-19: 139 cases in London-Middlesex as region records sixth triple-digit day in just over a week – London

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


For the third day in a row, and for the sixth time since the month began, the London and Middlesex region has recorded a single-day COVID-19 case jump in the triple digits.

The region also saw two new outbreaks declared in student residences at Western University.

The local case count rose by 139 cases, the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported, bringing the region’s pandemic case tally to 8,098, with 6,824 resolved cases, marking an increase of 54 from the previous day. At least 190 deaths have been reported, most recently on Saturday.

At least 1,084 cases were active in London-Middlesex as of Friday, the health unit said.

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The 139 case jump is the third-highest that the region has seen during the pandemic, behind 148 on Jan. 4 and 140 on Jan. 10, according to revised figures from the health unit.

The region has seen at least 915 cases since the start of the month, nearly as many as were recorded through the whole of March.

The local seven-day rolling case average stands at 113 as of Friday, up from 76 the seven days previous. At the same point a month ago, the seven-day average was around 18.

The local test positivity rate stood at 5.9 per cent as of the week of March 28, based on 10,313 tests, about the same as the provincial rate. The tally is up from 3.2 a week earlier (9,587 tests) and 1.6 two weeks earlier (9,343 tests).

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Of the 139 cases reported Friday, the health unit says 129 are from London, while 10 are from Middlesex County.

As with previous days, those infected skew younger, with 70 per cent under the age of 40, and 55 per cent under the age of 30.

Thirty-one cases involve people 19 or younger; 46 are in their 20s; 21 are in their 30s; 15 are in their 40s; 14 are in their 50s; 11 are in their 60s; and one is in their 70s.

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Health unit data shows that people under 30 account for 614 of the region’s 915 cases this month, or roughly 67 per cent.

Meantime, a contact tracing backlog means 120 of the 139 new cases have no available exposure source data yet. Nine are listed as being due to close contact, six to outbreak, and four have no known link.

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At least 499 of the region’s cases have screened positive for one or more spike gene mutations consistent with a variant of concern, an increase of just one from the day before.

Another nine have been confirmed through further genomic analysis to be the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. That tally is unchanged from the day before.

Of the 499 cases that have screened positive for a spike gene mutation — but have not undergone further genomic analysis — roughly 475 are presumed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, as they were found to have only one particular spike gene mutation — N501Y.

Note:

  • According to Public Health Ontario, the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant has been associated with only the N501Y spike gene mutation, while variants B.1.351 and P.1, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively, have been associated with spike gene mutations N501Y, E484K, and K417N.
  • As a result, any specimens screening positive for just the N501Y mutation are presumed by the province to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, adding they won’t be sent for further genomic analysis.
  • Specimens that screen positive for either the E484K or K417N mutations will undergo genomic analysis.

At least six cases have screened positive for the E484K spike gene mutation, which has been associated with the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively, while 16 have screened positive for both the E484K and N501Y mutations.

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According to the health unit, people under 30 account for roughly 70 per cent of all cases that have screened variant positive in the region so far during the pandemic.

Upwards of 38.4 per cent of cases whose episode date was during the week of March 28 screened variant positive, compared to 13.8 per cent the week of March 7, health unit figures show.

(The MLHU defines “episode date” as being the earliest date reported for the onset date of symptoms, the date in which the person was tested, or the date the case was reported to public health. The “reported date,” which is used for daily case numbers, is the date on which MLHU was first notified of the case, regardless of when they became ill or were tested.)

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During Thursday’s media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, said London-Middlesex was seeing case counts “virtually as high as we’ve ever seen” — counts close to the peak seen during the second wave of the pandemic.

“The death count remains very low. Hopefully, that continues. We know that it will increase from the zeros that we’re getting now as we go into this third wave. But we anticipate it will increase a lot less,” Mackie said.

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Data made public this week from researchers monitoring for coronavirus in local wastewater suggested that case counts in the coming week would likely be equivalent to what was seen at the peak of the second wave.

Mackie was hesitant to offer predictions Thursday, but noted that that day’s case count reflected viral transmission that occurred as much as two weeks earlier.

“Even if the lockdown measures work perfectly, we won’t see the effects of that for at least two weeks. So there’s no sense that we’ll be out of this any time in the very short term,” he said.

“The variants of concern being in our community in a big way is the big unknown. Especially with the rapid rise that we’ve seen recently, we could easily see case counts as high as 200 over the next couple of weeks before things turn for the better.”

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At least 7,156 cases have been confirmed in the city of London since the pandemic began, while 291 have been in Middlesex Centre.

Elsewhere, 251 cases have been in Strathroy-Caradoc, 106 in Thames Centre, 60 in Lucan Biddulph, 47 in North Middlesex, 45 in Southwest Middlesex, 14 in Adelaide Metcalfe and two in Newbury.

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At least 126 cases have pending location information.

Hospitalizations

Thirty-one COVID-19 inpatients were listed as being in the care of London Health Sciences Centre as of Friday, an increase of four from the day before.

Of those, 14 are in critical or intensive care, an increase of one from Thursday.

Active staff cases number eight, unchanged from the day before, the organization reported.

St. Joseph’s Health Care London listed no COVID-19 patients in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

At least 29 cases are active within the organization, however, with eight patient and 14 staff cases linked to an outbreak at Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building, and seven that are not outbreak-related.

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Rising case counts across Ontario have been putting increasing strain on the province’s hospital system.

On Friday, Ontario hospitals were instructed to begin ramping down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures next week to ensure they have the capacity to treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients.

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In a memo Thursday, the president and CEO of Ontario Health — which oversees the province’s health system — told hospitals to make the move to preserve critical care and human resources, starting Monday.

There were 541 patients with COVID-related critical illness in Ontario intensive care units as of midnight on Friday, according to Critical Care Services Ontario.

The highest number of COVID-19 inpatients seen at London Health Sciences Centre on a given day was 57 on Dec. 7, according to data from the Ministry of Health. At St. Joseph’s Hospital, the highest tally was 12, seen from Dec. 31, 2021 to Jan. 4.

At least 400 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 in London and Middlesex during the pandemic, including 70 who have needed intensive care.

Outbreaks

No new institutional outbreaks have been declared, and one has been considered resolved.

The outbreak had been active since March 26 at Henley Place Long-Term Care Residence in its Victoria Unit.

As of Friday, just two institutional outbreaks are listed active in the region, both at Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building.

One was declared March 30 in its G5 unit, while one was declared April 3 in G2 and H2.

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St. Joseph’s Health Care London say the Parkwood outbreaks are linked to at least eight patient cases and 14 staff cases.

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Elsewhere, a non-institutional outbreak remains active at the city’s jail.

At least five inmate cases remain active at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre as of Wednesday, according to provincial data, down from nine on Monday. There was just one active inmate case on March 31.

The EMDC outbreak was declared on Jan. 18, and has been associated with at least 37 inmate and 29 staff cases. The number of current active staff cases at the jail was not immediately available.

Elsewhere, non-institutional outbreaks are also active at eight separate Western University student residences. Details are below.

Schools

At least two new school cases have been reported in the region by the Thames Valley District School Board while two new outbreaks have been reported at Western student residences.

One of the new school cases is associated with East Carling Public School, while one is associated with Kensal Park French Immersion Public School.

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At least 21 local school-linked cases are considered active. A full list can be found on the MLHU website. Outbreaks are still listed as active involving four local schools:

  • Holy Rosary Catholic School
  • Northridge Public School
  • Riverbend Academy
  • Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School.

The health unit says that at least 282 cases have been reported at local elementary and secondary schools during the pandemic.

Local schools are staying open throughout the stay-at-home order.

An additional 36 cases have been reported at child care and early years settings. Six were active Thursday at five facilities, according to the health unit.

At least two cases are associated with Kidorable Child Care Centre, which has seen an outbreak declared, according to the health unit.

Elsewhere, the health unit lists one case each as being active involving:

  • Misty’s Home Daycare
  • Rowntree Park Early Childhood Learning Centre
  • Stoneybrook Early Childhood Learning Centre – London Bridge
  • Westminster Children’s Centre

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In the post-secondary world, two new outbreaks have been declared at student residences in London — one on Western University’s main campus, and one at the Western-affiliated King’s University College.

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The two new outbreaks are located at Perth Hall and at King’s Commons, according to the health unit.

They’re the seventh and eighth residence outbreaks to be declared since March 25 involving Western University, all of which remain active, declared on:

  • April 8 at King’s Common (King’s University College)
  • April 8 at Perth Hall
  • April 4 at Essex Hall
  • April 2 at Delaware Hall
  • March 30 at Elgin Hall
  • March 31 at Medway-Sydenham Hall
  • March 26 at Saugeen-Maitland Hall
  • March 25 at Ontario Hall

As of Friday, seven of Western’s eight first-year student residences are currently experiencing an active outbreak.

In a bid to curb the spread of the virus, Western moved the majority of in-person classes and final exams online starting Monday, and encouraged students in residence to move out early if possible, offering prorated refunds to those who do before April 11.

Vaccinations and Testing

The London-Middlesex region surpassed 100,000 vaccinations as of Thursday.

Bookings for vaccinations began early this week for people 65 and older, and are expected to expand to people 60 and older as early as next week, pending vaccine availability.

Three mass vaccination clinics are operating in the region, and there are plans for a fourth. Low vaccine supply has kept it from opening.

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Eligible residents are asked to visit the local vaccine booking website or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment. Online appointments are encouraged due to the high call volume.

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

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Meantime, people aged 55 and older can still be vaccinated through two local pharmacies, with more expected to come online soon.

London Mayor Ed Holder unveiled Thursday that the region was expecting a “significant increase” in the number of pharmacies offering doses as part of the provincially-run pilot.

“As well as my understanding these pharmacies will be spread out across all quadrants of the city, providing easier access for those who qualify,” Holder said.

Earlier in the week, Holder had criticized the province over the low number of initial pharmacies, as the number was similar to cities with much smaller populations.

“In addition, I’ve told (Premier Doug Ford) if there’s extra vaccine, London will take it. If there are communities or regions unable or incapable of effectively distributing what they’ve received, London will gladly take it,” he said.


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Holder added he was “perplexed” as to why the province didn’t designate London, or a specific area of London, as a COVID-19 hot spot, adding he planned to talk to Ford about it.

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Earlier this week, the province labelled dozens of postal codes across 13 Ontario health units as being hot spots, prioritizing them for more vaccine doses, and allowing for younger age groups to be immunized.

The only postal code listed as a hot spot near London-Middlesex is N5H in Elgin County, which is centred around Aylmer.

Dr. Mackie said the health unit was not consulted, and that such a designation is at the province’s discretion. He added they were looking into whether there is room for them to provide input.

As much as the cases have really climbed here, we’re still well off where the GTA communities that are currently defined as hot spots are. As much as we wish cases were lower, we’re also very glad that they’re not at the same rates as Peel, Toronto, etc.”

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

According to the health unit, roughly 3.2 per cent of tests were coming back positive as of the week of March 21, up from 1.6 the previous week and 1.2 the week before that.

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Ontario

Ontario is reporting 4,227 new cases of COVID-19 today and 18 additional deaths from the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 1,218 new cases in Toronto, 762 in Peel Region, and 532 in York Region.

She also says there are 247 new cases in Durham Region and 246 in Ottawa.

More than 61,410 tests were completed since the last report.

There are 1,492 people hospitalized in Ontario because of COVID-19, with 552 in intensive care and 344 on a ventilator.

Read more:
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Ontario says that 105,382 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province since Thursday’s report.

It’s the third straight day more than 100,000 vaccines have been given out in the province.

A total of 2,940,166 vaccine doses have been given in Ontario so far.

Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford received his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a Toronto pharmacy on Friday morning.

He said he wanted to get the shot in front of media to help encourage people to get immunized and combat vaccine hesitancy.

The premier has set a goal of getting 40 per cent of Ontarians — or 5 million people their first dose over the next month.

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Elgin and Oxford

Twenty-four new coronavirus cases have been reported in the Elgin-Oxford region, officials with Southwestern Public Health reported on Friday.

It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 2,960, of which 2,768 have resolved. This marks an increase of 16 from the day before. At least 69 deaths have been reported, most recently on March 29.

The health unit says 123 cases are active in the region, with 36 in Woodstock, 24 in St. Thomas, and 19 in Aylmer.

Five people are currently hospitalized, including two who are in intensive care.

Meantime, the number of cases that have screened positive for a spike gene mutation common to a coronavirus variant has risen by five compared to the day before.

Of the 118 cases that have screened positive, six have been confirmed through further genomic analysis to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., the health unit says.

At least 104 cases are presumed to be the B.1.1.7 variant as they screened positive for only one specific spike gene mutation, named N501Y.

Note

  • According to Public Health Ontario, the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant has been associated with only the N501Y spike gene mutation, while variants B.1.351 and P.1, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively, have been associated with spike gene mutations N501Y, E484K, and K417N.
  • As a result, any specimens screening positive for just the N501Y mutation are presumed by the province to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, adding they won’t be sent for further genomic analysis.
  • Specimens that screen positive for either the E484K or K417N mutations will undergo genomic analysis.

The health unit says five cases, three active and two resolved, have screened positive for the E484K spike gene mutation. Another three, two active and one resolved, have screened positive for both E484K and N501Y mutations.

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Genomic analysis is ongoing to determine the specific variants involved in those eight cases.


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Excitement, confusion over phase 2 of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout

During a media briefing Thursday, local health officials reported that roughly 25,000 residents in the health unit’s jurisdiction had seen at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

SWPH says people aged 60 and older will soon be eligible to book a vaccine at a local mass vaccination clinic, along with education staff who work with children who have special needs, and people with certain comorbidities as outlined in Phase 2 of the province’s vaccine rollout.

“While these groups are not yet eligible in our region due to vaccine supply, they will become eligible very soon,” said Dr. Joyce Lock, the region’s medical officer of health.

“We are starting to develop a registration process for essential workers so that when their turn comes, they will be able to make an appointment easily.”

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Eligible residents are asked to visit the area’s vaccine booking site or call 226-289-3560 to book an appointment. Eligibility information can be found on the health unit website.

Lock added that doses are also being administered through at least one primary care practice in the region, and five local pharmacies as part of the province’s pilot program.

The pharmacies are immunizing people 50 and older with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Appointments should be made directly with a participating pharmacy.

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Earlier this week, the postal code N5H, centered around Aylmer, was named a COVID-19 hot spot by the province — one of dozens across 13 public health units designated as such, and the only one in the London region.

The province says hot spot areas will be prioritized for more vaccine doses and will see younger age groups allowed to be immunized.

“Vaccinations are underway in that region, and we’re currently starting with large congregate settings such as the Ontario Police College,” Lock said of Aylmer, referring to the site of a recent large outbreak.

Lock later stated that the province made it clear the additional doses were being given to areas where people may be at higher risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19.

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“We will be looking at our data from the last year at the type of cases and outbreaks we had within Aylmer and the region around it to determine where we could be most impactful in terms of administering additional doses of vaccine,” Lock said.

The Aylmer area saw a significant surge in cases late last summer along with the recent police college outbreak.

Health officials say they will also be looking to curb vaccine hesitancy in the postal code.

Data from ICES shows only six per cent of people in the N5H postal code (all age groups) had seen at least one dose as of March 29, the lowest in SWPH. The postal code N5C is the region’s second-lowest with 7.6 per cent.

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On Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said the province would begin vaccinating people aged 18 and older living in the designated hot spots over the next few weeks through mobile teams who will deliver doses in congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based centres and large employers.

Regions will be selected based on patterns of transmission, severe illness and mortality from COVID-19, he said, with education workers in specific postal codes in Toronto and Peel starting next week, to be expanded to other hot spot areas as supply allows.

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A local timeline remains murky.

“It was said [Wednesday] that it could go as low as 18, but we need to evaluate that before we commit to how low we’re going to go,” Lock said.

“What we’re trying to do is ensure that in these vulnerable communities, everybody is eligible to get vaccine, and in that way, helping to protect those at-risk individuals the most. We will be trying to determine how we can be most impactful within the Aylmer area… and how and what age brackets would be the best to hit and what settings would be best to hit.”

The Ford government also announced earlier this week that its provincial booking system would begin allowing those in high-risk hot spots aged 50 and older to immunized at a local mass vaccination clinic starting on Friday.

In an email, a spokesperson with SWPH, which uses a local booking system co-run with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said residents 50 and older in the N5H postal code wouldn’t be able to book a shot starting Friday, saying the health unit was still finalizing its strategy.

More information is expected next week.


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Neither the Thames Valley District School Board nor the London District Catholic School Board have reported new school-linked cases in the region.

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Several cases linked to schools remain active. Full school case lists can be found on the websites of the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board.

One new institutional outbreak has been declared in the region.

The outbreak is located at Metcalfe Gardens in St. Thomas, and is associated with two staff cases.

It’s one of two active outbreaks in Elgin-Oxford.

The other is located at Caressant Care Bonnie Place, also in St. Thomas, and is associated with one resident and one staff case.

The health unit says a total of 631 cases have been reported in Woodstock during the pandemic, while 485 have been in St. Thomas, 475 in Aylmer and 358 in Tillsonburg.

Elsewhere, 211 cases have been in Norwich, 166 in Bayham, 144 in Ingersoll, 120 in East Zorra-Tavistock, 68 in Central Elgin, 61 in Zorra, 60 in Blandford-Blenheim, 59 in South-West Oxford, 32 in Dutton/Dunwich, 26 in Southwold, 24 in West Elgin and 15 in Malahide.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 2.2 per cent as of the week of March 28, the same as the week before, but up from 1.8 the week before that.

Huron and Perth

Ten new coronavirus cases were reported Friday in Huron-Perth, local health officials there said.

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It brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 1,456, of which 1,371 have resolved, increase of three from the day before. At least 51 deaths have been reported, most recently on Tuesday.

The health unit says five of the new cases were reported in Stratford, while two were in North Huron and one each in Goderich, Huron East, and West Perth.

At least 34 cases are currently active in the region, with 14 in Stratford alone. At least one person is in hospital.

The number of cases in the region that have screened positive for a spike gene mutation common to a coronavirus variant stands at 25, unchanged from the day before.

At least six cases have been confirmed through further genomic analysis to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., according to Public Health Ontario — an increase of three from the previous day.

It’s unclear what spike gene mutations were detected during screening of the other cases. Such information may give an idea of what specific coronavirus variant may be involved. (The variant detected in the U.K., for example, is associated with the spike gene mutation N501Y, while the variants detected in Brazil and South Africa are associated with three mutations, including N501Y.)


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According to the health unit, roughly 26,719 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Huron-Perth as of April 7, the most recent figures available. The tally includes first and second doses.

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People aged 65 and older, and those turning 65 this year, are eligible as of this week to get a vaccine at a Huron-Perth vaccination clinic.

Those looking to book a vaccination appointment are asked to do so via the local booking system or by calling 1-833-753-2098.

More information on who is currently eligible can be found on the health unit’s website.

Local health officials say they will also connect with area school boards regarding the province’s announcement Wednesday to make education workers who “provide direct support to students with special education needs” vaccine-eligible over the April break.

Meantime, people aged 55 and older are still 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 initiative. Residents are asked to contact the pharmacies directly. A list of local participating pharmacies can be found on the province’s website.

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One outbreak is active in the region, located at an unnamed workplace, according to Huron Perth Public Health. No outbreaks are active at seniors’ facilities, hospitals, schools, child-care centres, or in congregate living settings.

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No new school cases have been reported. Two remain active in the region, one at St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in Goderich and the other at Jeanne Sauvé Catholic Elementary School in Stratford.

At least 575 cases have been reported in Perth County, with 354 in North Perth and 138 in Perth East, while at least 473 have been reported in Huron County, with 106 in South Huron and 103 in Huron East.

Stratford has reported at least 371 in total, while St. Marys has seen 37.

The region’s test positivity rate stood at 0.9 per cent as of the week of March 28, up from 0.4 the week earlier.

Sarnia and Lambton

Forty-six new coronavirus cases have been reported in Lambton County, local health officials reported on Friday.

The jump brings the region’s pandemic case tally to 3,001, of which 2,799 have resolved, an increase of 15 from the day before. At least 52 deaths have been reported, most recently on Wednesday.

At least 150 cases are active in Lambton, with 10 listed in the care of Bluewater Health, an increase of one from the day before.

Meantime, one additional case has screened positive for one or more spike gene mutations associated with a known variant of concern.

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So far, at least 175 cases have screened positive as such, with 28 since confirmed by genomic analysis to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K.

It’s unclear what spike gene mutation(s) were detected in the remaining cases, which may provide insight into what specific variant it may be. (The variant detected in the U.K., for example, is associated with mutation N501Y, while the variants detected in Brazil and South Africa are associated with three mutations, including N501Y.)


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The local vaccination campaign rolls on, with more than 28,500 doses now administered in the county.

People 60 and older became eligible to book an appointment in the county earlier this week. Lambton uses the province’s online booking system, unlike Elgin-Oxford, Huron-Perth, and London-Middlesex which use their own.

People under 60 who have health conditions defined as ‘highest-risk’, ‘high-risk,’ and ‘at-risk’ by the province, along with one essential caregiver from each of those groups, are also eligible to pre-register for a vaccine.

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More information can be found on the health unit’s website. Those eligible to for a vaccine are asked to visit the health unit’s vaccine webpage for details on how to book an appointment, or to call 519-383-8331.

Three pharmacies in Lambton are also offering 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.

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At least five new school cases have been reported in Lambton by the Lambton-Kent District School Board.

Two cases each are associated with Lambton Central Collegiate & Vocational Institute and Northern Collegiate Institute & Vocational School, while one is associated with Rosedale Public School.

The cases are among several that remain active involving county schools, according to figures from the Lambton-Kent District School Board and St. Clair Catholic District School Board.

Two school outbreaks remain active, both declared on April 1.

One involves École élémentaire Les Rapides, and is linked to three cases, while the other, involving London Road Elementary School, is linked to two cases.

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Meantime, no new outbreaks at seniors’ facilities or in workplaces have been declared.

Two seniors’ facility outbreaks are active, declared on:

  • March 23 at Rosewood Retirement Village in Sarnia (19 resident, two staff cases)
  • March 19 Afton Park Place in Sarnia (two resident, three staff cases).

Four workplace outbreaks are active, declared between March 25 and April 7.

The names of the workplaces has not been released. They’re associated with between four and seven cases each.

The health unit says the county’s test positivity rate was 2.4 per cent the week of March 28, down from 3.3 the week before and 3.7 the week before that.

— With files from The Canadian Press



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



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