London, Ont., region expected to move to orange or yellow level on Monday

Medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit Dr. Chris Mackie is anticipating that the region will move to a lower level of restrictions under the province’s COVID-19 response framework next week.

At a media update on Monday, Mackie said that “whether that’s orange or the yellow-level restrictions will be a decision of cabinet” but current data would “likely put us in the yellow.”

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“Of course, things can change over the next couple of days. And we know that the variants of concern are on the horizon. They really are the one X factor right now. But it’s clear, based on the local data, we’re at a level of disease activity that is quite a lull compared to what we have had.”

Daily case counts have been lower than 20 since 31 cases were recorded on Feb. 12, which was also the last day that a COVID-19 death was recorded locally. The death was reported the following day.

“So now over a week with no fatalities, which is very reassuring as well. A big part of that is because of the vaccine campaign,” Mackie says.

“We’re on par over the weekend, roughly still with about 1,000 vaccinations per day and still working to get access to the provincial reporting system so that we can track those numbers a bit more precisely.”

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Mackie also says the number of vaccines the community is expected to receive “over the next while” is “reassuring,” with “current forecasts indicating increased vaccine supply in March and then increased again in April.”

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) chief medical officer Dr. Adam Dukelow adds that the hospital network has had no active outbreaks for 17 days.

“We’re also seeing a continuing decline of inpatients that are COVID-19-positive. Today we’re caring for 13 inpatients with less than five in our ICUs (intensive care units),” he said Monday.

“While the current COVID numbers are declining, we are carefully monitoring the local regional provincial case numbers, as well as the variant of concern prevalence, as Dr. Mackie mentioned, to ensure we’re ready to respond to any potential increase in cases in the coming weeks and months.”

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Mackie says the total number of variant cases confirmed in the region is steady at six with four confirmed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first discovered in the U.K., and two awaiting sequencing.

“All the positives are now tested across the province to identify whether they are variants of concern. Nothing in the last 100 or so cases, aside from the two that we mentioned that were travel-related.”

In early February, the Ontario government announced details of its phased reopening plan, which included an “emergency brake” mechanism in response to the discovery of more transmissible COVID-19 variants.

The emergency brake allows chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams to enact immediate action if a health unit sees a spike in transmission and/or their hospitals become overwhelmed, moving them immediately back to the grey-lockdown zone.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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