MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is reporting 25 new COVID-19 cases Friday, a significant drop from the previous two days.

There were 43 cases reported Thursday and 46 cases Wednesday, the highest daily total reported since the pandemic began in March. The previous record was set the day before with 38 cases.

There was also one new death reported Friday, a woman in her 80s, associated with the ongoing outbreak at the London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) University Hospital.

That brings the total number of deaths associated with the outbreak, all among patients, to 12, and the total in Middlesex-London to 75.

The region has now seen a total of 1,759 cases, with 1,431 resolved and 75 deaths leaving 253 active cases.

At University Hospital, there are 49 inpatients and 45 staff still positive for COVID-19 as of Friday, and to date, the hospital is reporting a total of 64 patient cases and 48 staff cases.

During a press conference on Friday, hospital officials expressed their condolences, and said with new measures in place they are hoping for a decline in cases over the next few weeks.

On Friday afternoon the province moved the London region from yellow-protect to orange-restrict under the province’s COVID-19 response framework.

MLHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie had said Thursday the local daily case count and percentage positivity of testing made the move likely.

Southwestern Public Health (SWPH)  is reporting a surge in cases and a new death Friday, but is already in the orange-restrict level.

However, SWPH says Friday's total is one of the largest single-day increases in Elgin and Oxford counties since the start of the pandemic, and could signal a move to the red-control level.

In a statement, SWPH Medical Officer of Health Dr. Joyce Lock warned, “These numbers are predictive of a move to the Red Tier of Ontario’s Safe and Open Strategy which will have a significant impact on our local businesses. These numbers – some of the highest of the year for us – are also predictive of an increase in serious illness, hospitalizations, ICU stays, and death.”

Lock went on to say that it's up to the community to lower the numbers, by distancing and wearing masks at work, limiting close contacts to your own household and staying home and getting tested if you experience any symptoms.

A new school case was also reported in the SWPH area on Friday at Glendale High School in Tillsonburg and at Ryerson Public School. The Thames Valley District School Board says the school remains open with buses running as SWPH investigates and reaches out to close contacts.

In London, tjree new cases were reported at Sir Arthur Currie Public School and one at Ashley Oaks Public School. Both schools remain open with buses running as the MLHU investigates and identifies close contacts.

Sir Arthur Currie was the site of an outbreak back in October when two cases, believed to be related to each other, were reported. No outbreak has yet been declared in connection with the most recent cases.

Here is where the cases stand in the region based on the most recent publicly available data:

  • Elgin-Oxford – 19 new, 72 active, 601 total, 521 resolved, eight deaths
  • Haldimand-Norfolk – none new, 40 active, 666 total, 589 resolved, 32 deaths
  • Sarnia-Lambton – three new, 18 active, 420 total, 377 resolved, 25 deaths
  • Grey-Bruce – nine new, 36 active, 353 total, 317 resolved, no deaths
  • Huron-Perth – nine new, 52 active, 371 total, 301 resolved, 18 deaths

Ontario reported more than 1,700 new infections Friday, and for the first time, more than 200 patients being treated in the ICU.