COVID-19 death toll up two, hospitalizations down two

A microbiologist performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus. (Photo by Tom Wolf from Flickr)

As hospitalizations from COVID-19 continued to decline in the London region on Tuesday, two more people died from the virus locally.

The Middlesex London Health Unit recorded the deaths of two men, one in his 80s and the other in his 90s, over the past 24 hours. Neither man was associated with a long-term care or retirement home. There have now been four COVID-related deaths in the city and county this month. Last Tuesday, a man in his 90s succumbed to the virus. Two days later, an infected woman in her 70s died. The region’s total death toll now stands at 380.

There were 27 new COVID-19 infections logged in London and Middlesex County on Tuesday, according to the health unit. That is up slightly from 26 on Monday. The new infections bring the total case count since March 2020 to 37,403. Daily case tallies have been considered an underestimate of community spread because of limits placed on testing eligibility at the end of last year.

The health unit said there are 564 known active cases of the virus in the region, down 62 from Monday.

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) reported it has 33 patients admitted to hospital with the virus. That is down by two compared to Monday. LHSC officials specified that 17 of the COVID-19 positive patients currently admitted are being treated for the virus. The other 16 are being treated for other ailments but have also tested positive for COVID-19.

Admissions to the intensive care unit held at five or fewer, the same level they have been at since last Wednesday. Children’s Hospital has five or fewer COVID-19 positive patients in its care, with none in paediatric critical care.

The number of workers who have tested positive saw a minor increase on Tuesday. The LHSC reported 140 infected staffers, up two since the previous day. At this time last week there were 158 workers sick.

Only one outbreak remains at the LHSC, on University Hospital’s U4 medicine 100 and low 200 wing.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers said on Monday the region is “clearly on the back end” of the sixth wave. He attributed the decreasing amount of spread in part to good vaccination coverage, but continued to urge those who have not received all recommended doses to do so.

“The high vaccination coverage that we have at this time is going to be essential in responding to whatever variant does come,” said Summers. “Even if a vaccine is not as effective against a new variant, it has consistently provided some protection, particularly against severe outcomes and death.”

The local vaccination rate rose marginally over the past week. The latest figures released by the health unit show 93.8 per cent of area residents aged 12 and older who have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 91.8 per cent in the same age bracket have had two doses. Third and fourth doses have been administered to 56.6 per cent and 7.5 per cent of area residents.

As of Saturday, there have been 1,154,178 doses administered locally since December 2020.

Southwestern Public Health, the health unit for Elgin and Oxford counties, does not update its COVID-19 cases dashboard on Tuesdays. Its next update will be released on Wednesday.

While COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario saw a big increase on Tuesday, ICU admissions dropped below 200.

According to public health officials, there are 1,555 COVID-19 positive inpatients being treated in hospitals across the province. That is up by 342 compared to figures released on Monday. Despite the increase reported Tuesday, hospitalization figures are still lower than this time last week when 1,699 people were hospitalized with the virus.

The provincial breakdown of hospitalization numbers over the past 24 hours shows roughly 41 per cent were admitted to hospital because of COVID-19. The remaining 59 per cent were admitted for other reasons but tested positive for COVID-19.

The number of COVID-19 positive people admitted to intensive care went down by 13 to 188. Last Tuesday, there were 202 people in the ICU.

Ontario logged 1,089 new cases Tuesday. However, the single-day tally is less relevant since the provincial government restricted eligibility for publicly-funded COVID-19 tests. Ontario’s total case count since the start of the pandemic now stands at 1,277,205.

There were 19 additional deaths from the virus reported over the past 24 hours. The total death toll from the virus in Ontario now stands at 12,991.

Public health officials confirmed there were 11,576 COVID-19 tests processed over the past 24 hours. The test positivity rate is now 12.4 per cent, down from 13.2 per cent a week ago.

To date, the province has administered 32,968,528 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 91.2 per cent of people 12 and older having received two doses. More than 7.3 million people have received a booster shot.