27 new cases in Middlesex-London Friday, Elgin-Oxford to tighten restrictions

The Middlesex London Health Unit reported 27 new cases Friday, marking three days in a row of numbers over 20. 

Meanwhile, Southwestern Public Health, which takes in Elgin and Oxford counties, including Woodstock and St. Thomas, moved to tighten restrictions, moving that region into the ‘Orange: Restrict’ pandemic framework as of Monday. 

“This decision was based on an increase of cases, more evidence of community transmission, more tests coming back as positive, and an increase in outbreaks. It is expected this stage will remain in effect for at least 28 days, unless local risks increase and further restrictions are required,” Southwestern Public Health officials said in a statement. 

London and Middlesex County remain in the ‘Yellow: Protect’ framework.

The high case counts in this region are contributing to troubling numbers at the provincial level, with Ontario now marking more than 100,000 cases since the pandemic began. The Canadian picture of potential spread shows there could be 60,000 new infections a day if Canadians increase contact with each other.

Premier Doug Ford is expected to release new public health measures Friday afternoon to help prevent further spread, but they may be isolated to hotspots in the GTA. 

The Middlesex London Health Unit does not have a briefing scheduled. 

The health unit said Friday’s new cases are primarily people under the age of 40, with 19 of the new cases impacting those age groups. 

The health unit is also investigating COVID-19 infections at more public institutions, including at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). Five health care workers were among Friday’s case count.

On Thursday, 15 staff members from LHSC were reported to have contracted the virus and as many as 50 are being tested. 

In a memo sent to employees this week, LHSC CEO Paul Woods warned employees to follow public health guidelines or face disciplinary action up to and including termination.

The health unit has been tracking two outbreaks at the hospital in the medicine and orthopedic wards since the second week of November, however, it’s unclear if infected staff were working in those areas. 

Eleven patients are positive, according to LHSC’s website, which was last updated Thursday. 

Infections at schools 

(Google Maps)

The Thames Valley District School Board is reporting a positive case of COVID-19 at Saunders Secondary School. A bible school, Providence Reformed Collegiate in Komoka, is also dealing with a case. 

Officials say staff, parents and guardians in the school communities have all been notified. And while Middlesex-London does not have any schools closed, the Thames Valley District School Board said 13 classrooms are closed. 

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