LHSC outbreak deaths climb as London region sets new record for daily COVID-19 cases

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is reporting 38 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, the highest daily count since the pandemic began in March, and three new deaths.

The previous record was reported Nov. 8, when 36 cases were reported. Tuesday also marks eight days in a row of double-digit cases.

The three deaths include a woman in her 80s and a man in his 70s. One had been revealed by the health unit Monday and another won’t be included in MLHU totals until Wednesday. However, all are associated with the ongoing outbreak at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

The new cases and deaths bring the totals in the region to 1,651 cases, 1,395 recoveries and 70 deaths, leaving 186 active cases.

MLHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says, “From a case count perspective we’re very much in the orange over the last few days, the cutoff is about 16 cases per day.”

The region has been at 16 or above for more than a week, and Mackie added that he wouldn’t be surprised if the province decided to move the region to orange – restrict later this week.

Outbreaks are ongoing in one unit at the Parkwood Institute and in six units at LHSC’s University Hospital.

On Monday, hospital officials announced that outpatient activity was being limited to urgent or emergent appointments, with other clinical care being rescheduled as virtual appointments wherever possible.

As of Tuesday, LHSC is reporting 43 patients and 34 staff testing positive for the virus. There have also been additional cases among close contacts, with the health unit reporting a total of 93 linked cases.

In total, seven deaths have now been linked to the outbreak, and LHSC has announced it will be, “lowering its flags to half-mast in memory” of those patients and is offering condolences to the families.

A statement released by LHSC President and CEO Dr. Paul Woods continued, “LHSC remains committed to doing everything within its power to help prevent this number from growing higher. Along with our community we must remain steadfast and diligent in our collective adherence to public health safety protocols. We must work together to keep ourselves and each other safe and healthy.”

An outbreak has also been declared at St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic School in London, Ont. after another member of that community tested positive.

The health unit says it appears to be associated with a previous case reported on Saturday and the declaration is an effort to limit further spread.

Dr. Alex Summers, associate medical officer of health at the MLHU said in a statement, “Transmission of COVID-19 within a school has been a rare occurrence in the Middlesex-London region. Health Unit staff will continue to follow up with affected families and staff members to provide support and advice on next steps.”

The school remains open, but staff and students in classrooms identified as close contacts are being told to stay home.

A new case was also reported at East Elgin Secondary School in Aylmer, Ont., but that school also remains open as Southwestern Public Health investigates and informs close contacts.

Here is where the cases stand in the region based on the most recent publicly available data, no new deaths were reported in any of the regions:

  • Elgin-Oxford – eight new, 64 active, 563 total, 493 resolved, six deaths
  • Haldimand-Norfolk – two new, 43 active, 660 total, 573 resolved, 32 deaths
  • Sarnia-Lambton – two new, 14 active, 412 total, 373 resolved, 25 deaths
  • Grey-Bruce – two new, 34 active, 338 total, 294 resolved, no deaths
  • Huron-Perth – 10 new, 49 active, 343 total, 276 resolved, 18 deaths

Across Ontario, just over 1,700 new infections were reported Tuesday, as well as seven deaths.