LONDON, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London Health (MLHU) reported seven new deaths related to the coronavirus on Sunday, marking the second-highest death-count the region has seen since the beginning of the pandemic.

“This is not a common-cold-virus, this is something that kills people and it is killing more and more people,” said MLHU medical officer of health, Dr. Chris Mackie.

Six of the deaths are associated with long term care homes. They include two men in their 70s, a woman in her 80s, along with two women and a man in their 90s. An additional man in his 90s not linked with a long term care home also passed away.

Mackie tells CTV News, that the high mortality rate reported at long-term care homes (LTCH) is unfortunately expected.

“Every death is highly regrettable. The whole vaccination campaign we have right now is focused on vaccinating residents in these homes. That will be the most important factor to ending the mortality there.”

The MLHU shifted to vaccinating residents at LTCH early last week, as part of a provincial government mandate, listing the Elderly as a top priority or most vulnerable section of the population.

So far in the region there have been 565 total cases at LTCH and 62 deaths.

Retirement homes have had 97 total cases and 13 deaths as of Sunday.

“We’re (health officials) going to one or two homes (LTCH) at least every day, and we plan to complete the long-term care facilities in the next two or three weeks or so then pivot to retirement homes.”

Mackie urges that the Health Unit is working hard to vaccinate senior-residents, but says the limiting factor is the number of doses available.

“We still have very small numbers of doses and Pfizer has just announced that Canadian doses will be delayed…so once we have doses we will have people vaccinated very quickly.”

Dr. Mackie said MLHU doesn’t expect the ‘millions of large doses’ to be available until spring or summer of 2021, in the meantime MLHU is working hard to vaccinate the residents that they can.

“My dad is in his 80s my mom is in her late 70s, they are high risk…I think of someone saying to them their life doesn’t matter…it’s a pretty despicable thought really…these are human beings and their lives matter and public health will continue to do our best to protect them.”

He is also urging residents that staying at home works, to keep COVID-19 case counts low.

On Sunday, the MLHU reported 54 new cases of COVID19, down from 117 the day before.

“Staying home works…we saw a lot less mobility when the shutdown order that took place on Dec. 26… The additional hard-lockdown measures that came into force last week will help.”