LONDON, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is reporting 94 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, and three new deaths including an 18-year-old male.

It is the most deaths reported in a single day in several weeks, with the highest ever - seven deaths - reported Jan. 17. The 18-year-old represents the youngest victim from the region to date.

In January, Yassin Dabeh, 19, died of COVID-19 and until Thursday was the youngest victim in the region.

MLHU Medical Officer of Heath Dr. Chris Mackie says there are few details available at the moment about the death other than that he was admitted to hospital in respiratory distress and died the same day.

"Unfortunately other people in his family are also sick and so it's difficult for us to get full data. At this point we know this is a not person who was in post-secondary, we don't believe that this was a person who was a high school student this point. We also dont' know if there were underlying medical conditions."

He says the coroner is now investigating so there are more answers forthcoming, it's just not clear how long it might take.

Both Mackie and London Mayor Ed Holder expressed their condolences to the family of the young man who tragically died.

Holder, who lost his son at age 14 nearly 25 years ago, says, "It's totally devastating, you can't plan for it and you never lose that feeling of tragedy and sadness. I liken it sometimes to a black hole with razor blades. From time to time the razor blades go away so they don't cut you up all the time, but the black hole never leaves."

The second death reported Thursday was a woman in her 50s not associated with a long-term care or retirement facility.

A woman in her 70s associated with a long-term care home was the third death to be reported Thursday. Health officials say she had not been vaccinated though it is unclear why.

The new cases represent a slight drop in daily cases after a return to triple-digits on Wednesday.

The region now has a total of 10,903 cases, with 9,792 resolved leaving 905 active cases. The three deaths bring the regional death toll to 206.

There are 1,663 cases with a variant of concern, largely the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the U.K., but the region also saw its first B.1.617 case reported Tuesday – the variant first found in India.

At the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), there are 96 inpatients with COVID-19, of which 42 are in intensive care. Out-of-region patients account for eight in acute care and 24 in the ICU.

Vaccine eligibility for essential workers expanded this morning for those 50+. For more information follow this link.

Mackie said that with vaccines given in pharmacies and doctors' offices, as well as those in the vaccination clinics, the region is expected to hit 200,000 doses by Saturday.

Four new outbreaks at seniors' facilities were declared this week – three in units at Glendale Crossing - while outbreaks are ongoing at one school, two child-care centres and one Western University residence.

As of Sunday, 168,475 vaccine doses have been administered in the region, and the health unit says the numbers have jumped across all age groups.

Here are the most recently available numbers from other local public health authorities:

  • Elgin-Oxford – 17 new, 117 active, 3,490 total, 3,297 resolved, 76 deaths, 536 variants 
  • Haldimand-Norfolk – 16 new, 232 active, 2,395 total, 2,117 resolved, 41 deaths
  • Huron-Perth – 10 new, 39 active, 1,604 total, 1,5012 resolved, 53 deaths, 115 variants
  • Sarnia-Lambton – nine new, 84 active, 3,296 total, 3,156 resolved, 56 deaths, 415 variants
  • Grey-Bruce – six new, 46 active, 1,225 total, 1,174 resolved, five deaths, 290 variants

Across Ontario 3,424 new infections were reported.

Thursday’s report marks the fifth straight day in which COVID-19 admissions to an intensive care unit (ICU) have declined.