MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is reporting 151 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, the third-highest count of the pandemic.

All three of the highest case counts have now occurred within the last five days, with 163 reported Saturday, a record-breaking 176 on Wednesday and now 151. The previous record of 148 cases dates back to Jan. 5.

Back in late December and early January, at the peak of the second wave, the region saw a total of 10 days with case counts above 100 over the course of 18 days. Since April 1, the region has already recorded 10 days of triple-digit counts.

Thursday's cases bring the cumulative total to 8,903, with 1,218 active, 7,492 resolved and 193 deaths – none new.

After reporting the fist incident of the P.1 variant on Wednesday, the total number of variants has risen by 54 to 800, with 798 being the B.1.1.7 and two the P.1 variant. Another 187 cases have tested positive for a mutation.

Dr. Alex Summers, MLHU associate medical officer of health, says the B.1.1.7 strain is now predominant in the community.

He added, "We're reporting a second P.1 or Brazil variant today. That second P.1 variant is unrelated to the variant that was reported yesterday. We are still investigating, it does appear to be travel-associated or travel-linked as well, however it reminds us that not only is COVID remaining present in our community, but so too are these variants."

Summers also provided an update on the outbreak that shut down London's Cargill plant for two weeks. There are now 87 total cases, an increase of five from the total reported on Tuesday.

"An entire department has been placed into quarantine because of the transmission we've seen amongst staff within that department. The two-week idle period is critical, absolutely critical, in ensuring that that outbreak is brought rapidly under control."

At the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), nine staff and 57 inpatients are positive for COVID-19, with 24 in intensive care, an increase of six in the ICU over the last 24 hours.

The Thames Valley District School Board reported new cases at three schools Wednesday evening, while seven area schools and two child-care centres are dealing with outbreaks. Active outbreaks are also ongoing at eight residences associated with Western University.

Here are the most recently available numbers from other local public health authorities:

  • Elgin-Oxford – 23 new, 18 active, 3,110 total, 2,858 resolved, 72 deaths (one new), 218 variants
  • Haldimand-Norfolk – two new, 210 active, 1,915 total, 1,660 resolved, 40 deaths
  • Huron-Perth – 23 new, 61 active, 1,508 total, 1,395 resolved, 52 deaths, 42 variants
  • Sarnia-Lambton – 14 new, 119 active, 3,090 total, 2,917 resolved, 54 deaths, 249 variants
  • Grey-Bruce – 25 new, 111 active, 986 total, 870 resolved, five deaths, 99 variants

Grey Bruce Public Health has asked all residents to stay home for 48 hours amid a surge of cases there as they try to reach all close contacts of confirmed cases.

The province broke its daily record for new infections Thursday, with more than 4,700 new cases reported.