4 deaths, 46 new COVID-19 cases in London area Wednesday

The Middlesex London Health Unit posted four deaths and 46 new cases of COVID-19 for the London region on Wednesday, marking the highest daily count since the pandemic began.

With rising daily case counts, the region is poised to enter the 'orange' zone

University Hospital has dealt with a series of outbreaks that have left 23 people dead. The final outbreak was resolved on Dec. 29. (Colin Butler/CBC)

The Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) posted four deaths and 46 new cases of COVID-19 for the London region on Wednesday, marking the highest daily count since the pandemic began.

The health unit says two women, one in their 70s and one in their 90s, has died, along with two men, one in their 70s and one in their 80s. Three of the reported deaths are connected to an outbreak at University Hospital. There have now been nine deaths at the hospital.

"On behalf of all London residents, I want to extend my heartfelt and sincerest sympathies to family and friends of the nine individuals whose deaths are linked to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at University Hospital," said London Mayor Ed Holder in a statement. "We honour the lives of your loved ones, and we pray that their memories bring you peace, comfort, and strength during this time of great sorrow."

According to the MLHU, there have now been 97 cases linked to outbreaks at University Hospital in multiple units across four floors. There are 47 cases among staff and 50 among patients. The health unit says they are working closely with London Health Sciences Centre to battle the outbreaks.

Among Wednesday's case count is a staff member at a long-term care facility.

A Belmont man, Martin Haalstra, is also being grieved by his family after he died in the ICU this past Sunday. 

The health unit posted just nine recoveries with the total of know active infections in the region now up to 219.

Region could see further restrictions

London's medical officer of health is now calling on the community to avoid social gathering and holiday events.

"The last thing we need now are super-spreader events dressed as Holiday traditions," said Dr. Chris Mackie, in a statement. "If you are a leader in this community, we are asking that you ensure that your leadership points in the direction of safety. Employers in particular need to create online events to mark the Holidays for their staff members if they don't want their workplaces to turn into outbreak zones."

Dr. Mackie is also calling for post-secondary students who are planning to return home for the holidays to plan again. He recommends students go into a voluntary self-isolation for 14 days prior to travel and also plan to limit their contact with other when they return.

The rise in daily case counts could also see the region move to the "orange" zone of Ontario's five-colour pandemic scale. That means gatherings will be reduced to 10 people indoors and 25 outside. It will also mean changes to restaurants and bars.

  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Nightclubs can only operate as a restaurant or bar

A decision to move to the orange zone would happen Thursday, after the provincial cabinet meets, and the new rules would likely come into place over the weekend. 

Dr. Mackie said increased case counts indicate that's what will likely happen. 

The record case count for Middlesex-London comes as Ontario saw 1,723 new COVID-19 cases province-wide, along with 35 more deaths.

Peel Region posted the highest case count on Wednesday, with 500 new infections, followed by Toronto with 410.