The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) is telling residents who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines — but not yet registered — to avoid using the provincial government's vaccination appointment system.
The portal launched across the province on Monday morning, more than two weeks after the local public health unit launched its own system in order to register seniors 80 and older for their appointments.
Anyone who lives in Windsor-Essex who tries to use the provincial system will be redirected back to the health unit, said Theresa Marentette, CEO of WECHU.
"It links you back to our site," she said at the health unit's daily briefing on Monday.
8 new cases
The health announced eight new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the first time a single-digit case count has been reported since early November.
"It's a good number today but we know it change very quickly," said Marentette. "People are asked to be diligent with the public health measures."
The health unit also reported the region's 398th COVID-19 death, that of a woman in her 80s who lived in the community.
2 more vaccination locations for 80+
Seniors 80 and older will be able to get COVID-19 vaccines at two additional sites in Windsor-Essex starting next week.
WECHU says the St. Clair College Sportsplex and Windsor Hall (the former Windsor Star building) will be open for 80-plus vaccinations beginning the week of March 22.
The Sportsplex has been a vaccination site since December but has been used for vaccinating other priority populations such as health-care workers and seniors' home employees.
Vaccinations have been rolling out at the WFCU Centre, the Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Complex, at mobile clinics and through pharmacies.
Overall, 44,334 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Windsor-Essex, and 11,854 people have received both required doses.
There are 292 active cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex. Of the eight cases announced Monday, one is outbreak-related, five are close contacts of confirmed cases, one case was community acquired and one is under investigation.
Monday's lower case count bucks a recent trend of slightly rising COVID-19 cases in the region.
On Friday, the health unit released a report showing that the weekly average case rate had increased over the previous week from an average of 58.4 per 100,000 people from 39.3.
For a month, Windsor-Essex has been in the red "restrict" zone in the colour-coded COVID-19 framework.
Asked whether the region could see another lockdown if the trend continues, Marentette said more information is needed.
"I think we will have to continue to monitor the cases, the outbreaks in our community, the variants of concern ... there is more to going into a lockdown than just the actual number — it's also what's happening in the community," she said.
New variant of concern ID'd
The health unit reported that a COVID-19 case involving a variant of concern has been identified as the variant first reported in the U.K. for the second time.
Preliminary testing has discovered 35 other variant of concern cases but the strain involved in those cases has yet to be identified.
Jail outbreak declared
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the South West Provincial Detention Centre. According to an online database published by the provincial government, there are four active cases of COVID-19 among inmates at the facility.
In an email to CBC News Monday, the Ministry of the Solicitor General said it is aware of the outbreak and that each facility has a pandemic plan in place.
Any inmate that tests positive is isolated from the others and receives medical attention, the ministry said.
The outbreak is among 15 that are active in the region on Monday.
They include one at Windsor Regional Hospital's Met Campus, one at Victoria Manor, and one at the Downtown Mission.
An outbreak at the Salvation Army shelter has been rescinded.
Four workplaces have active outbreaks including one in Kingsville's construction sector, one in Windsor's healthcare and social assistance sector, one in Lakeshore's public administration sector and one in Windsor's retail sector.
There are also four active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement facilities:
Riverside Place in Windsor, with one staff case.
Leamington Mennonite Home, with one staff case.
Devonshire Retirement Residence in Windsor, with one staff case.
Dolce Vita in Windsor, with three resident cases and one staff case.
And there are three school outbreaks — one in W.F. Herman Academy, one in Bellewood Public School and one in Monseigneur Jean Noel.
COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent
Lambton Public Health is reporting 29 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, as the region entered a new lockdown. There are 175 active cases. The health unit is telling vaccine-eligible residents to book their appointments through the provincial system.
In Chatham-Kent, officials have told the public to continue to book their appointments through the health unit by calling rather than use the provincial system.
The region reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, which includes figures from the weekend. There are 71 active cases.