London's top doc asks for vigilance as region sees downward trend in COVID-19 cases
The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported 17 new cases of the disease Monday
Despite a downward trend in new COVID-19 cases, the region's top doctor is reminding Londoners that now is not the time to back down on following public health measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
During a media briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie, the medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), said the region logged 17 new COVID-19 cases Monday. But, he said that number could be slightly lower or higher as the health unit is unable to access their case and contact management system due to a provincial service outage.
For the past week the region has been recording less than 50 cases of COVID-19 each day, but Mackie said the region is still in a "vulnerable phase" in the pandemic.
"The trend downwards is not a guarantee that we will continue to see downward movement in our numbers. We're still at a rate of daily counts across the province that are higher than the peak from wave one," he said.
"If we make mistakes now, if we take our attention away from the public health measures and precautions that have gotten us this far, we will see case counts spike again."
"We're in this for many more weeks, hopefully not many more months, but we cannot let up now."
No additional COVID-related deaths were reported on Monday, marking three consecutive days of zero deaths in the region. Over the course of the ongoing pandemic, there have been 175 deaths associated with the disease.
Meanwhile, Mackie said residents and staff of long-term care and retirements homes in the region started to receive the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines.
The plan is to administer the second doses in roughly the same order as the first one, meaning those at Oneida Long-Term Care received their shot Monday, Mackie said.
What's the situation at the hospital and with local outbreaks?
The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has 20 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, eight of which are in the critical care unit, said the hospital's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adam Dukelow.
As of Monday, the only department dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak is the Adult Emergency Department at University Hospital, an outbreak which Dukelow describes as contained. Ten staff members have tested positive, but there's been no patient cases or deaths associated with it.
"I want to remind everyone that the Emergency Department is open and safe. It is important that people do not delay seeking emergency care at University Hospital when it's needed," Dukelow added.
Meanwhile, an outbreak at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC) has grown to 42 cases.
A total of 25 cases involve staff at the provincial jail, Mackie said.
"It is difficult to implement additional precautions in a setting like the EMDC and so we do expect that we will continue to see cases come from that facility unfortunately," he said.
What's the situation outside of London?
Southwestern Public Health, which oversees St. Thomas along with Oxford and Elgin counties, recorded 10 new COVID-19 cases Monday. That region currently has 166 known, active cases.
Meanwhile, Ontario reported a total of 1,969 new cases province-wide on Monday.
The province also logged its first case of a variant of the novel coronavirus that surfaced in South Africa.