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City officials reflect on 2 years since first COVID case detected in London, Ont. | CBC News

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January 24 marks two years since London, Ont., detected its first case of COVID-19, a discovery that would significantly change life as Londoners once knew it. 

It was on this day, back in 2020, when a student in her 20’s at Western University tested positive for the virus at University Hospital after returning from a trip to Wuhan, China. 

Dr. Chris Mackie, Middlesex-London Health Unit’s medical officer of health at the time, said that after taking all precautions, and despite not feeling any symptoms, the woman isolated herself and got tested.  

This was the third confirmed case of COVID in the entire province at the time. 

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Officials marked the second anniversary at Monday’s Middlesex-London Health Unit briefing, and reflected on the roller coaster that the past two years has been.  

‘We’re London strong’ says Mayor

Mayor Ed Holder said that this has been the most unique two years, and while it’s been traumatic, he’s amazed to see how the London community has fought through the pandemic.     

“If there’s a word that comes to my mind as I think of the last two years, it’s resilience… of both our citizens and businesses,” he said. 

“People have come through it as well as they can under the circumstance, and it speaks to how we deal with tragedy and the very toughest of times, we’re London strong,” Holder added.  

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Acting medical officer of health Dr. Alex Summers said that it’s hard to fully capture the experience of the first case and the impact it would later have on the world. 

“Its [the virus] arrival was striking, it was concerning, and in so many ways, still an unknown,” he said. “We certainly didn’t know how profoundly COVID-19 would impact our community.”

Summers believes it could take a number of years for people to unpack the totality of the pandemic’s experience since London is still in the thick of what he describes to be an up-and-down journey.  

“January to June of 2020 will forever be one of the most remarkable times in my life,” said Summers.

Ups-and-downs in the healthcare sector

London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) chief nursing executive Carol Young-Ritchie said that the healthcare sector has learned a lot through the pandemic’s evolution. 

“A lot of emotions come to mind, there’s been a lot of ups and downs but I think about how we’ve all pulled together from many different sectors as a community in London,” she said. 

Young-Ritchie added that she’s incredibly proud of how staff at LHSC has worked through the challenges during this period.  

Holder extended his gratitude to the healthcare industry, calling them the angels of health.

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All three officials thanked Londoners for following the constantly changing public health rules, along with looking out for community members, and credited them as the hidden heroes of the pandemic.  

“Health is not limited to healthcare, health is the manifestation of our lived experiences as people in our community, and the pandemic has driven this home,” Summers added. 

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