The COVID-19 death toll in London and Middlesex County has risen for the first time in six days.

The Middlesex London Health Unit confirmed on Thursday that a man in his 80s and a woman in her 60s have succumbed to the virus. Both were not linked to long-term care or a retirement home, according to the health department. There have now been nine deaths related to COVID-19 in the region this month – five of which occurred last week. The latest death brings the local death toll to 385.

The health unit also recorded 36 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, up from 43 on Wednesday. Daily case counts are believed to underestimate community spread as the provincial government restricted eligibility for PCR testing in late December. The total number of on-site cases since March 2020 is now 37,763, according to the health unit.

The number of closed cases is up to 36,976. There are currently 399 known active cases in the region, up from 524 a week ago.

COVID-19 hospitalizations fell by three in the past 24 hours. The London Health Sciences Center (LHSC) confirmed on Thursday it has 30 inpatients with the virus in its care. It’s the lowest local hospitalization this month.

Of the 30 people in the hospital, 17 are being treated for COVID-19 and 13 for other illnesses, but they have also tested positive.

ICU admissions related to the virus remained flat at five or fewer. There are zero COVID-19 patients in the care of Children’s Hospital, down from five or fewer on Wednesday.

The hospital network said it currently has 128 infected staff, down two in the past 24 hours. A week ago, 149 employees had tested positive.

Southwestern Public Health, the health unit for Elgin and Oxford counties, does not update the COVID-19 cases dashboard on Thursdays. The next update will be released on Friday.

Provincially, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 declined again.

A total of 1,207 people with COVID-19 were admitted to Ontario hospitals Thursday, down 41 from the previous day. It is the second straight day that hospital admissions due to the virus have fallen. Last week at this time there were 1,451 hospitalizations.

The provincial breakdown of hospitalizations reported Thursday shows that 39 percent of those hospitalized are being treated for COVID-19 and 61 percent are being treated for other reasons, but have also tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the latest figures released by the province, 168 people with COVID-19 are in intensive care units across the province, an increase of five since Wednesday.

Public health officials said there were 1,565 new cases in Ontario as of Thursday. But public health officials have warned that daily case numbers are seen as an underestimate of the spread of the virus as the provincial government continues to restrict who is eligible for a free PCR test.

The total number of cases in the province since the pandemic began now stands at 1,291,814.

On Thursday, 23 more deaths related to the virus were reported, bringing the death toll to 13,122. The province said 20 of the latest deaths have occurred in the last month. Three more occurred more than a month ago and have just been added to the total as part of a data cleanse.

The number of closed cases increased by 2,204 to 1,261,782.

15,462 COVID-19 tests have been processed in the last 24 hours. Ontario’s positivity rate is now 9.6 percent, up from 10.7 percent a week ago.

The province has administered 33,176,573 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday night. Provincial data shows that 93.1 percent of Ontarians aged 12 and older received one dose of the vaccine, while 91.3 percent received a second dose. More than 7.3 million first booster shots have been administered.

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