MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is reporting 176 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, a new record, and one new death.

The cases surpass the daily record set on Saturday of 161 cases. The previous record, reported on Jan. 5 was 148 cases. Wednesday's total marks a return to triple-digit cases after a one-day reprieve.

The new death, a man in his 80s not associated with a long-term care or retirement home, brings the total deaths in the region to 193.

The new cases bring the cumulative total to 8,752, with 1,183 active and 7,376 resolved.

The spike comes a day after the Cargill plant in London was shuttered for two weeks after 82 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Of Wednesday’s daily case count, 35 are included in the 82 reported at the Cargill chicken processing plant on Cuddy Boulevard.

MLHU Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers says most of the remaining are the result of uncontrolled community spread.

“They are so varied in their source of acquisition, is very concerning for us,” explains Dr. summers. “It tells us that COVID is widespread in the community.”

The MLHU is also changing how it reports variants of concern to match the province.

Based on this change, the health unit is reporting 746 cases with a variant of concern and 186 with a mutation-positive sample.

Of those cases that are a variant of concern, 745 are the B.1.1.7 lineage that originated in the U.K., while one is the first case of the P.1 variant.

First discovered in Brazil, the P.1 variant has triggered outbreaks in Vancouver and most recently Saskatchewan.

“All variants of concern are thought to be more transmissible, and cause more severe illness. P.1 is similar to that,” adds Summers. “There is also some initial concern about the effectiveness of the vaccine (against it).”

Summers says this region’s first case is the result of travel, and not connected to any current outbreaks.

It’s also unlikely to be the region’s last case of the P1 strain.

“That is why this stay at home order we know is so frustrating is so important to follow right now.”

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is reporting nine staff and 52 inpatients are positive for COVID-19, with 18 in intensive care, while the only outbreak in a health care setting is in three areas at the Parkwood Institute's Mental Health Care Building.

The Thames Valley District School Board reported new cases at four schools late Tuesday, 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 – 30 new, 182 active, 3,087 total, 2,834 resolved, 71 deaths, 203 variants
  • Haldimand-Norfolk – one new, 191 active, 1,880 total, 1,644 resolved, 40 deaths (one new)
  • Huron-Perth – four new, 40 active, 1,485 total, 1,393 resolved, 52 deaths, 42 variants
  • Grey-Bruce – 25 new, 111 active, 959 total, 870 resolved, five deaths, 99 variants
  • Sarnia-Lambton – four new, 104 active, 3,064 total, 2,906 resolved, 54 deaths, 248 variants

The province reported more than 4,100 new infections Wednesday with the number of patients in intensive care hit a record high of 642.

- With files from CTV's Daryl Newcombe