The number of new COVID-19 cases in the daily report in London and Middlesex County has dropped below 30 for the first time since Sunday.
The Middlesex London Health Unit reported 25 new cases and one additional death on Friday. That is down from 43 infections and two deaths on Thursday. In total, there have been 204 new cases and ten more deaths linked to the virus this week.
The surge of new infections has pushed London into the orange-restrict zone of the province’s COVID-19 response framework. The shift from the yellow-protect level of the five-tier system was announced by the Ontario government Friday and takes effect as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday.
The latest death was a woman in her 80s who was not connected to a long-term care or a retirement home. The health unit has not confirmed whether her death was connected to the ongoing outbreak at University Hospital, however, the London Health Sciences Centre did report one new death on Friday. The six-unit outbreak has now claimed 12 lives. Since it began in early November, 48 staff members and 64 patients at the hospital have tested positive for the virus.
LHSC President and CEO Dr. Paul Woods has quashed rumors the outbreak was caused by a multi-floor potluck among employees. Woods stated the hospital investigated that claim and found no such potluck took place.
“That being said, we agree with the health unit’s findings that there were breaches in PPE (personal protective equipment) use during breaks and physical distancing was not always maintained,” Woods said. “I’m not assigning blame. Our staff and physicians have been vigilant and dedicated in their provision of safe patient care since day one of this pandemic. But we are human, we are fallible, and we are tired. While regrettable, I can say with certainty there was never a breach intended to cause harm. That is not who LHSC’s people are.”
The ongoing outbreak has led to the cancellation of all non-emergency surgeries and new admissions at the hospital.
A separate outbreak on a unit at Parkwood Institute has now been declared over.
The Thames Valley District school board confirmed positive cases Thursday night at London Central Secondary School and Westminster Secondary School.
Since the start of the pandemic, the region has recorded a total of 1,759 COVID-19 cases and 75 deaths.
Seventeen more recoveries were reported over the last 24 hours to being the area’s resolved cases to 1,431. That leaves 253 active cases.
Southwestern Public Health, the health unit for Oxford and Elgin, reported a large single-day jump in cases and one additional death on Friday. Nineteen new infections were logged, up from seven on Thursday. The latest death was a man in his 80s. The total case count for the region is 601, with 521 resolved and eight deaths. Currently, there are 72 active cases in Elgin and Oxford.
“These numbers are predictive of a move to the red tier of Ontario’s Safe and Open Strategy which will have a significant impact on our local businesses. These numbers – some of the highest of the year for us – are also predictive of an increase in serious illness, hospitalizations, ICU stays, and death,” Dr. Joyce Lock, medical officer of health for Southwestern Public Health, said in a statement. “The good news is that each of you have what it takes to bring these numbers down, to decrease the amount of virus circulating in our community, and to lower the risk to the community we love.”
Lock is reminding residents to maintain physical distance, limit close contacts to those in the same household, and to stay home and get tested if experiencing even one symptom.
Elgin and Oxford have been in the orange-restrict zone since November 23.
Ontario’s COVID-19 caseload grew by more than 1,700 on Friday.
Public health officials reported 1,780 new infections, down from 1,824 on Thursday.
Toronto led the way for the most new cases with 633. The city was followed by Peel with 433 and York Region with 152.
Ontario’s total number of cases now stands at 123,526.
Twenty-five more people died from the virus across the province, increasing the death toll to 3,737.
Public health officials said 1,553 more people recovered from the virus, bringing the resolved case total to 104,792.
The number of active cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario is currently 14,997.
The number of infected requiring hospital care in Ontario is up to 674. Of those in hospital, 207are in the intensive care unit and 116 are on ventilators to assist with breathing.
In the last 24 hour period, over 56,000 COVID-19 tests were processed. More than 62,400 tests remain in the backlog.
Ontario’s positivity rate stands at 3.6 per cent.