MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- Eleven new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Middlesex-London on Thursday, all students, marking the first time the region has seen a double-digit increase in more than a month.

The new cases come just days after the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) declared a community outbreak, initially connected to five Western University students testing positive over the weekend.

The students involved had yet to visit campus, but had visited bars in downtown London and neighbouring student residences.

The new cases, 10 of which are Western students and the other a Fanshawe College student, bring the total in the region to 776, including 679 resolved and 57 deaths (no new deaths since June 12).

There hasn’t been a double-digit increase in the region since Aug. 15, when 12 cases were reported, though higher than usual numbers, with half-a-dozen daily cases, have been reported on three separate days since Saturday.

MLHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says the cases, which have now climbed to a total of 28 among Western students, are connected to multiple clusters.

Thursday's student cases are not linked to the large weekend cluster, in which at least two student households had ongoing close contacts, and attended locations like Crunch Fitness, La Cucina, Chuck’s Roadhouse and Lost Love.

He also says it’s likely more cases are coming over the next two weeks, as it takes several days for symptoms to appear and up to two weeks to test positive for COVID-19.

A surge in testing had prompted long lines at the city’s assessment centres at Oakridge Arena and Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre, as well as at a mobile centre set up on Western’s campus.

At Carling Heights, daily totals have surpassed 400 tests on several days this week. It’s the first time since July that many tests have been done. Meanwhile at Oakridge, more than 400 tests were done on Wednesday, the first time the assessment centre has surpassed that mark since it opened.

On Thursday though, those lines seem to have shortened significantly, with no serious backups on surronding roadways, though the health unit was still reporting wait times of up to two hours.

Here is where the case totals stand in other nearby regions based on the most recent publicly available data:

  • Elgin-Oxford – one new, 10 active, 263 cases, 248 resolved, five deaths
  • Sarnia-Lambton – none new, one active, 343 cases, 317 resolved, 25 deaths
  • Haldimand-Norfolk – two new, 14 active, 487 total cases, 441 resolved, 32 deaths
  • Huron-Perth – four active, 127 total, 118 resolved, five deaths
  • Grey-Bruce – none new, one active, 130 total, 129 resolved, no deaths

The province saw 293 new infections reported Thursday, continuing a week-long trend of increasing cases.