London postcode tops province with highest percentage of positive COVID tests

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A London postal code area that includes one of the city’s largest student neighborhoods is the highest in Ontario in terms of the percentage of tests positive for COVID-19, according to provincial data.

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From March 28 to April 3, the latest date for which data is available, 28.97% of COVID-19 tests among N6A residents returned positive, according to provincial data collected by the nonprofit organization of ICES health information.

The city’s N6A forward sortation area – which includes parts of downtown, Old North, and the student districts around Western University, including Broughdale – even exceeds the hard-hit areas of Toronto and the Peel region as a percentage of positivity.

The irregularly shaped N6A zone ends at Richmond Street and Windermere Road to the north, CN rail lines to the south and the Thames River to the west. The eastern border of the area includes Wellington, Pall Mall and Colborne streets.

In 2016, the latest census data date is available, there were approximately 11,300 people living in the N6A area which included nearly 9,100 residences, including many student rental housing.

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Zone N6A also includes two western residences that declared COVID-19 outbreaks the week of March 28, Medway-Sydenham Hall and Elgin Hall.

The high percentage of positivity in the N6A area comes amid a wave of COVID-19 cases in the London area, many of which are linked to young people and post-secondary students aged 29 and under.

Although there are increases across all age groups in London, the 29-and-under cohort accounts for around half of the number of daily cases over the past week. Eight COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported at Western and King’s University College residences since March 25.

According to Saverio Stranges, president of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western.

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“It depends a lot on the type of social interactions these individuals have and the environments in which they live and work,” he said.

“If they are in a workplace where there are both young and old, it can increase the risk of spread. There are several factors. “

The province’s vaccination strategy to date has focused on reducing deaths from COVID-19 by immunizing the elderly first, Stranges said. But with ultra-contagious variants at play and the massive spread of the virus threatening hospital capacity, officials should consider adjusting the strategy to vaccinate this social and mobile group of working age, he said.

“The dynamics of the epidemic, with young people being the main segment affected by the third wave, personally I would welcome an extension of the immunization program to younger populations,” Stranges said.

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The Middlesex-London Health Unit announced a record 161 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and 126 new cases on Sunday, as the third wave fueled by variants sweeps across the province.

The overall percentage of positive tests for COVID-19 in the Middlesex-London health unit area was 5.88% the week of March 28, a rate that ranks sixth of 34 public health units in the province. The week of January 3, at the height of the second wave, the rate was 6.22%.

Among other London-area forward sortation areas, the N6L area – which includes parts of the Bostwick neighborhood and rural properties in Southminster Bourne – ranks second with 11.76% of COVID-19 tests returning positive the week of March 28.

The N6B region, which includes the Woodfield neighborhood and the eastern part of the city center to Adelaide Street, ranks third in the London area with 11.42% COVID-19 test positivity.

jbieman@postmedia.com

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