1,472 new COVID-19 cases recorded in London-area since Friday

A healthcare worker performs coronavirus swab on a patient. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo /Noiel

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the London-area rose above 4,000 for the first time on Monday as the region recorded 1,472 new infections since Friday.

The Middlesex London Health Unit logged 486 new cases over the past 24 hours, 536 new cases on Sunday, and 450 new cases on Saturday. While still considerably high, daily case numbers over the past three days fell short of the record-breaking single-day high of 638 which was reported on Friday. The health unit released three days worth of COVID-19 data on Mondays as it no longer updates its online dashboard on weekends.

The area’s total case count stands at 21,241 since the pandemic began.

The death toll remained unchanged at 259. There has not been a COVID-19 related death locally since last Thursday.

Resolved cases are up by 784 to 16,900. The number of active cases in the city and county went up by 706 since Friday to 4,082 on Monday. That is the highest number of active cases the region has had during the pandemic.

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is reporting outbreaks at two of its hospitals. There are five or fewer staff and five or fewer patients who have tested positive on each of the B7-200 Adult Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at Victoria Hospital and 7IP Clinical Neurosciences at University Hospital. The LHSC did not provide an update on Monday on the current number of patients with COVID-19 in its care. As of Friday, there were 28 inpatients with COVID-19, including nine in intensive care. There were also 152 hospital staffers with the virus.

Outbreaks are ongoing at 20 local seniors’ facilities, the latest of which was declared Sunday on the first floor of Earls Court Village in London .

For the first time since Christmas Eve, Southwestern Public Health has released updated COVID-19 data. The health unit that covers Elgin and Oxford counties reported 1,337 new cases since December 24 on Monday. The latest cases bring the two counties total case count to 7,557. There were two additional deaths recorded, a woman from Oxford in her 40s and a woman from St. Thomas in her 50s. Their deaths bring the death toll up to 113. The health unit said the total number of resolved cases in the area is 6,157, leaving 1,287 known active cases.

Provincially, the number of new COVID-19 cases fell to just above 13,500 on Monday but hospitalizations have begun to spike.

Public health officials reported 13,578 new infections over the past 24 hours. That is down from 16,714 on Sunday and a record high 18,445 on Sunday. The dip in single-day case counts comes days after the Ford government restricted eligibility for publicly-funded COVID-19 tests. Last Thursday, it was announced PCR testing would only be available for high-risk individuals who are symptomatic or are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19. A full list of eligible individuals can be found here.

The latest cases put Ontario’s total case count since the start of the pandemic to 805,098.

Monday’s limited figures were released by Health Minister Christine Elliott as the province isn’t updating its full COVID-19 dataset because of the holidays until Tuesday. Data not released Monday includes figures on testing volume, deaths, recoveries, vaccination status, and active cases.

At hospitals in Ontario, there are 1,232 patients with COVID-19, according to Elliott. The total number of patients in the intensive care unit is at 248, up from 176 a week ago. Those figures could also be higher than reported as not all hospitals release current numbers over the weekend.

During a morning news conference to announce tightened public health measures, Premier Doug Ford noted there has been an “alarming” amount of new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 over the past few days.

“We’re bracing for impact here in Ontario,” said Ford.

He added that the Omicron variant is “too contagious to stop completely” but that there are restrictions the province can enact that could slow it while more people receive the vaccine and booster shots.

As of 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Ontario will return to a modified step two of the roadmap to reopen. The tightened restrictions under step two include halting indoor dining at restaurants and bars, reducing indoor social gatherings from ten to five people, dropping capacity limits for personal care services and shopping malls to 50 per cent, and closing all concert venues, movie theatres, and museums. Non-urgent procedures at hospitals are being paused. Elementary and high school students across the province are also being shifted to online learning for at least the next two weeks.

There have been 27,422,363 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in Ontario as of Sunday night. Nearly 91 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older have received one dose of the vaccine, while 88.2 per cent have been given their second dose to be considered fully inoculated. To date, more than 3.7 million booster doses have been administered across the province.