Another person has died of COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton.
The area’s 52nd COVID-19 death – a person in their 50s who died at home – was announced Wednesday as the active caseload in Lambton continued to fall and the area, along with the rest of the province, was placed under a stay-at-home order as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
The province’s third emergency declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic was issued Wednesday by Premier Doug Ford as COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to rise quickly in Ontario overall – surging by 28.2 per cent between March 28 and April 5, the provincial government said.
But in Lambton, where lockdown orders were imposed in mid-March, the prevalence of COVID-19 is dropping, said medical officer of health Dr. Sudit Ranade.
A four-week provincial “emergency brake,” upping the previous lockdown restrictions, took effect Saturday.
“(Cases are) certainly coming down over the last few weeks, which is an encouraging sign,” Ranade said Wednesday in a virtual update with Lambton County council.
“It’s not a technical term, but it’s a very manageable caseload and the cases are sort of grumbling along.”
Lambton’s weekly incidence rate per 100,000 people fell to 102 for the week ending April 3, down from 142 a week earlier.
The positivity rate fell to 2.4 from 3.3 per cent.
The number of confirmed cases Wednesday inched up four, to 2,940 since the pandemic began, while the number of resolved cases increased 34, to 2,759.
There were 129 active cases, 39 fewer than a day earlier, while the number of active outbreaks fell by two to nine after a three-case outbreak at Trillium Villa nursing home in Sarnia and a six-case outbreak at an unidentified workplace ended April 6.
Vaccination appointments were also extended Wednesday to people as young as 60 – or who are turning 60 this year.
Two rural pop-up clinics – one April 7 and one April 14 – were fully booked, public health officials announced Wednesday, adding 400 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine has been allocated to Lambton for chronic home care recipients, distributed through primary care providers.
There had been 28,495 doses vaccine doses administered overall in Lambton as of Wednesday, including 1,561 second doses, representing about 25 per cent of Lambton’s eligible population, Ranade said.
“That’s pretty good,” he said.
Three pharmacies in Lambton – two in Sarnia and one in Forest – were expected to start providing the vaccine this week.
A dip in vaccine supply provincially could slow rollout over the next couple of weeks, Ranade said.
Typically vaccine shipments come with about 3,500 doses, he said.
“What we’re trying to do is match the clinic numbers to the allocations we know for sure we’re going to receive,” he said. “As we get more information on further allocations, we try to open up more spots.”
More details about the local vaccine rollout plan and how to book appointments are at getthevaccine.ca.
Ranade noted he doesn’t have concerns about people over 55 receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, which, in very or extremely rare cases, can cause severe blood clots.
It “has been given to millions of people very safely and very effectively, so that’s important to know,” he said.
Currently Sarnia’s intensive care unit is managing well, he said, but there is concern that mounting cases in the Greater Toronto Area could result in more patients in other tertiary care hospitals such as London and Windsor, which could limit space for patients who need to travel from Sarnia for more specialized care.
The number of confirmed cases identified as variants of concern Wednesday in Lambton increased by 13, to 170.
The number of people in hospital with confirmed COVID-19 increased by two to seven, Bluewater Health reported.
The emergency and stay-at-home orders have no effect on schools, the province announced.
“Keeping schools and child care open is critical to the mental health and well-being of Ontario children and youth,” a press release says. “Schools and child care will remain open for in-person care and learning in public health regions where it is permitted, with strict safety measures in place.”