TORONTO -- Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is now recommending that all people over the age of 70 self-isolate given the elevated risk of "severe outcomes" should they contract COVID-19.

Dr. David Williams made the new recommendation in a statement that was released on Monday morning, as the province confirmed a record 351 new cases of the virus.

There are now 1,706 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, including 23 deaths.

"Given the greater risk of severe outcomes to Ontarians who are elderly, I am also strongly recommending that individuals over 70 years of age self-isolate," Williams wrote. "This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands."

In recent weeks, governments have taken increasingly drastic actions to limit the number of opportunities for people to come into close contact with one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Ontario, the provincial government has prohibited all organized public gatherings of more than five people with few exceptions. It has also ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses.

Williams, however, said in his statement that “we must do more.”

He said that Ontarians have a responsibility to “stay home except for essential reasons” and should even limit the number of essential trips, such as grocery shopping, to “the fullest extent possible.”

“Everyone has a role to play in reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 - there is no option for anyone to opt out,” he said. “The lives of many Ontarians, especially our community's most vulnerable citizens, is in your hands and will depend on your actions over the coming days and weeks.”

So far, people over the age of 65 represent about 20.1 per cent of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province.