19 COVID-19 hospitalizations, 1 death in London area

Nasal swabs in test tubes. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / ayo88.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in London have dropped below 20 for the first time this year.

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) confirmed on Thursday it has 19 inpatients with the virus in its care, down by two from Wednesday. The last time the number of COVID positive patients at the LHSC fell below 20 was on December 23 when there were 15.

Of the 19 people in hospital, there are 12 being treated for COVID-19 and seven being treated for other ailments but have also tested positive.

Intensive care unit admissions related to the virus decreased to five or fewer from six on Wednesday. As of Thursday, there are zero COVID-19 patients in the care of Children’s Hospital, down from five or fewer a day earlier.

The hospital network said it currently has 60 infected staffers, up four over the past 24 hours. A week ago there were 82 employees who had tested positive.

The Middlesex London Health Unit recorded 16 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, down from 26 on Wednesday. Daily case tallies are believed to be an underestimate of community spread since the provincial government limited eligibility for PCR testing at the end of December. The total number of cases locally since March of 2020 is now 38,376, according to the health unit.

There was one additional death linked to the virus, to bring the local death toll up to 399. The health unit said the latest death was a man in his 90s who was not associated with a long-term care or retirement home. It is the sixth reported death in London and Middlesex County this week.

The number of resolved cases is up to 37,719. Currently, there are 258 known active cases in the region, down from 380 a week ago.

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

Provincially, the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital and the intensive care unit went up on Thursday.

A total of 549 COVID positive people were admitted to Ontario hospitals on Thursday, up 27 over the previous day. At this time last week there were 670 hospitalizations.

The provincial breakdown of hospitalization numbers reported over the past 24 hours shows 42 per cent of those admitted were because of COVID-19 and 58 per cent are being treated for other reasons but also have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are 118 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units across the province, an increase of four since Wednesday, according to the latest figures released by the province. The figure is relatively unchanged from this time last week when 119 people were listed in the ICU.

Public health officials said there were 907 new cases in Ontario on Thursday. Public health officials have cautioned that daily case numbers are considered an underestimate of the spread of the virus though, as the provincial government continues to restrict who is eligible for a free PCR test.

The province’s total case count since the start of the pandemic now sits at 1,310,525.

Ten additional deaths related to the virus were reported on Thursday, to bring the death toll up to 13,314. The province said seven of the latest deaths occurred within the last month. The three others occurred more than a month ago and were just added to the official count following a data cleanup.

The number of resolved cases rose by 983 to 1,288,515.

In the last 24 hour period, 9,777 COVID-19 tests were processed. Ontario’s positivity rate is now 6.6 per cent, down from 7.2 per cent a week ago.

The province has administered 33,473,127 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, as of Wednesday night. Provincial data shows 93.2 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older have received one dose of the vaccine, while 91.4 per cent have been given a second dose. More than 7.3 million first booster shots have been administered.