Two more outbreaks in Lambton where case rates are among highest in province

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Province to announce changes to COVID-19 rules today

There have been two more outbreaks in long term care homes in Lambton.

Lambton Public Health reports Friday there is one staff member in both Trilliam Villa and Vision Nursing Home who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Long term care and retirement home residents have all received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, however public health says staff of the homes and the residents essential care givers are just being vaccinated now. Of the 10 active outbreaks in the community Friday, five were in long term care homes and all involved only staff of the homes.

The number of outbreaks in long term care involving residents has dropped dramatically across the province since the residents were vaccinated. There has only been one person in long term care pass away with COVID-19 in the last week.

Public health also reports 23 new cases of COVID-19 in Lambton. It’s the continuation of the upward trend of cases in the community. Nine variants of concern have been identified, including two in Brooke Central School. Public health closed the school for two weeks to try to stop any transmission.

Lambton has the fourth highest rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the province behind Thunder Bay, Peel and Brant. The modelling graphics from the Ontario COVID-19 Science table show Lambton has 80 cases per 100,000 population however information released by public health Wednesday show that’s now up to 102 cases per 100,000.

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sudit Ranade, voiced concern about the rising COVID-19 rates in the community. There were 133 new cases in the first week of March. In the last five days there have been 80 more. There are 159 people actively ill and cases in 18 schools in the county.

Ranade told reporters he’s “uncomfortable” with the trends.

“It’s really tempting to go back into normal activities…I think what we’re seeing here is the impact of that,” he says.

And he acknowledges the province may consider moving Lambton into lockdown when it announces changes to the province’s reopening framework. Ranade says he has mixed feelings on that idea. “We’ve just come out of a lockdown so it is going to be really challenging to dive back into another one.”

Ranade says the province normally looks at whether the local hospitals and public health can handle the number of cases occurring in the community. So far in Lambton, both are in good shape. He adds if the province does move Lambton to the grey zone it will be over a concern for the variants in the community.

Moving back in the grey-lockdown zone would mean restaurants would once again be closed to in person dining, businesses would have to operate with 25 per cent capacity and grocery stores at 50 per cent capacity.

Public gatherings indoors would be off limits and churches would only be able to have 10 people in the building at a time.

Hair and nail salons would also be closed again.

The province looks at the numbers across the province Friday and decides whether to move regions into different levels of the framework.

Meanwhile, in Kettle and Stony Point, there is relief as the number of active cases of COVID-19 continues to shrink – down to just 16 today from a high of 39 last week. There was only one new case there Friday.

Ontario is reporting over 1,300 new cases of COVID-19 today.