London hospital updates COVID patient count – and it’s spiking

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The number of patients in London hospitals with COVID-19 has jumped considerably in the past four days, according to new figures made public Tuesday.

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London Health Sciences Centre is caring for 59 patients with the virus – up from 28 on New Year’s Eve, the most recent prior update. That number had hovered around 12 about a month ago.

The uptick in hospital admissions comes as Ontario heads into tighter restrictions for at least the next three weeks, a move Premier Doug Ford says is needed to stem the “tsunami” of COVID-19 cases provincewide due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. Ford estimated one per cent of people who get the virus will require care in hospital, though stays can be short.

LHSC’s publicly available data doesn’t make clear how many of its COVID-19 patients are vaccinated, though provincewide numbers have indicated a large majority of such cases are people unvaccinated against the virus.

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As of Tuesday, 10 of the LHSC COVID patients were in intensive care and five or fewer were in Children’s Hospital. And 210 staff members have tested positive.

The number of LHSC staff infected with COVID-19 has risen rapidly in less than a month. On Dec. 13, LHSC said 11 employees had tested positive. The figure was 104 on Dec. 28.

Health Minister Christine Elliott cited the growing number of hospital employees unable to work because they have COVID-19 as a factor in the new measures announced Monday by the province that include pausing non-urgent surgeries and closing some businesses to ensure hospitals have enough capacity to treat an expected surge in COVID patients.

While experts have said case numbers are no longer reliable, London and surrounding Middlesex County recorded 544 new cases Tuesday, bringing the two-year local pandemic total to 21,784. There have been no recent local deaths attributed to the virus, leaving the death toll at 259.

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