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Ontario’s COVID cases top 4,000 again

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The province has so far provided a booster dose to almost 2.13 million people

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Free Press staff, Postmedia staff

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Dec 22, 2021  •  7 hours ago  •  2 minute read  •  29 Comments Antigen COVID-19 tests are handed out for free at the Scarborough Town Centre on December 16, 2021. Antigen COVID-19 tests are handed out for free at the Scarborough Town Centre on December 16, 2021. Photo by Jack Boland /Toronto Sun

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London and surrounding Middlesex County added a record 228 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday but the city’s hospitalization rate ticked downward as officials issued a new warning for those feeling sick.

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London Health Sciences Centre updated on Wednesday its COVID-19 patient count for the first time since Dec. 17. It now sits at 13, down slightly from 15 – an encouraging number for officials still waiting to understand the Omicron variant’s severity.

Five or fewer of those local patients are in intensive care and five or fewer are in Children’s Hospital. There are no COVID-19 cases in pediatric intensive care.

The case count, however, continues to spike. Wednesday triple-digit increase is the biggest one-day jump yet and the local pandemic total now sits at 16,490. Of that number, 1,143 are active.

There have been 257 local deaths attributed to the virus since early 2020, though none recorded Wednesday.

The London-area health unit is urging the public to assume every respiratory illness is COVID-19 and isolate accordingly amid the record-breaking surge of cases hampering its contact tracing ability and overwhelming testing capacity.

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The health unit has more than 300 COVID-positive cases they have not yet contacted about their status due to lack of capacity, officials said Wednesday.

“Since the Omicron variant was first identified in our community, we have seen the case counts climb at a rate we haven’t seen before. The virus spreads easily and very quickly,” acting medical officer of health Alex Summers said in a statement Wednesday.

“We’re asking everyone to take enhanced precautions when they would rather gather with friends and family, and we know that is not what people want to hear. The situation is unfolding in an unprecedented way and we all need to act together to prevent further spread.”

Everyone who receives a positive test result is asked to self-isolate immediately and not wait to be contacted by the health unit. The cases are asked to tell everyone in their household to isolate too, the health unit said.

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Since COVID-19 is circulating “very quickly and widely” in the community, anyone with respiratory symptoms is asked to treat their illness as COVID-19, even without a positive test result. They should isolate immediately and tell the members of their household to do the same.

The ultra-contagious Omicron variant was first identified in London Dec. 6 and is now the dominant strain locally.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario hit 4,383 Wednesday with nine more deaths attributed to the virus. There were 155 COVID-19-positive people in intensive care provincewide — up slightly, but not likely to trigger a rollback in other hospital services.

The province administered 230,516 doses of a vaccine Tuesday. Ontario has so far provided a booster dose to almost 2.13 million people.

CORONAVIRUS CASES: THE NUMBERS

(*Figures for Southwestern Ontario as of Wednesday, December 22, 2021, at 12 p.m.)

Ontario — 661,563 cases

London-Middlesex — 16,490 cases, 257 deaths

Elgin-Oxford — 6,026 cases, 110 deaths

Brant — 4,651 cases, 32 deaths

Chatham-Kent — 3,399 cases, 27 deaths

Sarnia-Lambton — 4,739 cases, 79 deaths

Huron Perth — 2,833 cases, 70 deaths

Grey-Bruce — 2,634 cases, 16 deaths

Windsor-Essex — 23,608 cases, 487 deaths

https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/london-covid-hospitalizations-drop-even-as-local-case-count-skyrockets