LONDON, ONT. --
Another six people in London-Middlesex have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, as the city officially declared a State of Emergency.
Friday's new cases bring the total in the region to 11, according to the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU).
“Things are expanding for us...Six new cases. We are seeing strong evidence of community-based spread," says Dr. Chris Mackie, medical officer of health and CEO for the MLHU says. "So now is the time to take those distancing measures very seriously."
He adds that while two are linked to people already known to have the novel coronavirus, at least two others had no link to travel, so are likely the result of community spread.
While some spread was anticipated, everyone is asked to continue to stay home and stay safe, and maintain a distance of six feet if you are in contact with others to prevent rapid spread.
All of the new cases are self-isolating and the MLHU is following up with close contacts to advise them to do the same for 14 days.
One of the cases announced Friday is a student at Western University. The school says precautions are being taken.
Across Ontario, there were 50 new cases reported Friday, the largest single day increase so far. There have been two deaths in the province to date, and five cases have been resolved.
Mackie adds, "Coronavirus is here. It’s still a small minority of the number of things making people sick. We know that because the percent positivity is in the range of one to two per cent of tests are coming back positive but we are seeing a fair number of those now. ”
Across southwestern Ontario there have been two cases in Chatham-Kent, two in Huron-Perth and three in Grey-Bruce.
Brant County's first case also had a local connection, with the woman being an employee at Woodstock General Hospital.
And the London Health Sciences Centre is the latest hospital to introduce new visitor restrictions as the COVID-19 situation escalates.
Only one essential visitor, over the age of 18 is allowed for a patient, and they are subject to health screening.
Similar restrictions are in place at hospitals across the region.
City declares state of emergency
The City of London declared a State of Emergency Friday, which provides options to "protect the health and safety" of those in the city, and access to provincial funding should it become available.
Acting Mayor Jesse Helmer made the declaration, with the support of Mayor Ed Holder, who remains in self-isolation until the end of the month.
Helmer said in a statement, “Recognizing we are in extraordinary times, we need to ensure we have access to any and all resources that may be available to us. We are making this declaration to reinforce with residents the urgency of this situation and the continued threat that COVID-19 poses to London.”
The city is continuing to function with minimal operations and essential services.
Police asking for vigilance
Ontario Provincial Police have also issued a reminder that there could be consequences for those who ignore efforts to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The provincial Declaration of Emergency allows for consequences for individuals and businesses that defy the act.
That can mean fines anywhere from $750 for an individual, up to $500,000 for a corporation.
- With files from The Canadian Press