COVID-19 kills one more in London region while case numbers hits 150

Public health officials reported another death linked to COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to six in the London region.

Local assessments centres prepared to increase testing

On Tuesday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) announced 15 more cases and another COVID-19 related death in the area. (Shutterstock)

Public health officials reported that another person died of complications related to COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to six deaths in the London region.

According to data compiled by CBC News, 177 people have died from the virus province-wide, with more than 4,700 patients infected. 

On Tuesday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) announced 15 more cases, for a total of 150 cases in the area. Meanwhile, the province reported 379 new cases. 

While the provincial increase is relatively low compared to figures released in past days, Dr. Chris Mackie, medical officer of health for the MLHU, said the rate of positive cases is concerning. 

"Those 379 tests were positive on just over 2,000 tests. [That] puts the percentage positivity at 14.8 per cent, which is a big jump from previous days where we've been averaging at around 8 to 10 per cent."

"Even though there are less tests being done across the province, we are seeing higher rates of illness," Dr. Mackie explained. "The coronavirus is more present than it has been to date."

Meanwhile, the London Health Sciences Centre has admitted 28 patients for COVID-19. Ten of those patients are in critical care. The Cardiac Care Inpatient Unit closed after a patient on the ward tested positive earlier this week. 

Local assessment centres testing more people 

One of the dozens of nursing stations set up on the floor of the Oakridge Arena in London, Ont. to assess whether people might have the coronavirus, or something else. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

The health unit announced that London's two COVID-19 assessment centres will be increasing their testing, as they now have more testing kits, as well as more healthcare workers. 

"The criteria for tests at assessment centres will be expanded so that people who have symptoms that could be coronavirus, and who also have underlying significant illnesses that might put them at higher risk, will be tested," Dr. Mackie said. 

Across the province, testing numbers have been steadily declining. While 6,200 tests were conducted on April 1, on April 7, only 2,568 were recorded. 

The decrease in testing is worrying, according to doctors, as widespread testing may be the only way to get an accurate picture of how the virus is spreading. 

The Ministry of Health had planned to reach a goal of 19,000 tests per day by the third week of April. Currently, the province has the lab capacity to run 13,000 tests daily. 

"It is important that we keep getting tested," Dr. Mackie said. "Case and contact tracing are a key public health strategy, and it's been part of success in some countries at controlling the stress of coronavirus," he added. 

COVID-19 in surrounding counties

Elgin and Oxford counties reported two new cases on Tuesday, for a total of 24 cases between the two counties. 

Health officials in Grey Bruce are reporting three new cases, bringing their tally to 29 cases. 

The three patients, all senior women, are self-isolating.

Meanwhile, in Huron-Perth, health officials have reported three more cases. The area now has 23 cases.