TORONTO -- Ontario is reporting a single-day drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases as its positivity rate for the disease climbs for the sixth consecutive day.

Health officials reported 1,546 new infections Tuesday, a decrease following four straight days of case numbers above the 1,600 mark.

At the same time, and with 32,556 tests processed in the last 24 hours, the government says Ontario's COVID-19 positivity rate stands at 5.7 per cent, a number that has been trending upward since March 18.

The seven-day average for number of cases reported is 1,667. This time last week that number was 1,333.

Since the pandemic began, Ontario has recorded 332,119 cases of the novel coronavirus, including 309,849 recoveries and 7,253 deaths.

Nine of those deaths were logged in the previous day and at least one involves a resident of a long-term care home.

Right now, there are 15,017 active cases of COVID-19 across the province.  

Where are the new COVID-19 cases?

Most of the cases reported Tuesday were found in Toronto (465), Peel Region (329) and York Region (161).

Toronto and Peel Region are currently operating in the grey-lockdown level of the province’s colour-coded framework, which includes the most stringent of public health restrictions.

York Region has been in the less restrictive red-control level since Feb. 22.

Other public health units that reported notable COVID-19 case numbers on Tuesday include Durham Region (99), Halton Region (64), Ottawa (58), and Hamilton (57).

Meanwhile, the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 has been climbing over the past six days.

There are currently 868 people in hospital with COVID-19, up from 730 on March 18. Of those 868 patients, 324 are currently being treated in intensive care and 193 are breathing on a ventilator.

The last time there were more than 324 patients in the ICU with COVID-19 was on Feb. 8.

It should be noted that Critical Care Services Ontario is reporting 372 COVID-19 patients in the ICU as of March 22. 

COVID-19 mutations found in another 666 swabs

The province says it has found mutations of COVID-19 in another 666 cases in the last 24 hours.

So far, 13,894 cases of COVID-19 have screened positive for a mutation, though their lineage to a variant of concern has not yet been determined.

However, in the last 24-hour period, health officials say 19 more cases of the COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.7 were recorded. There are now 1,359 confirmed cases of that variant, which was first discovered in the U.K., in Ontario.

The Ministry of Health logged -1 new cases of the variant known as B.1.351 (South African variant) setting the case total back to 47.

An additional case of the variant known as P.1 (Brazilian variant) was also found, which brings the case total to 37. 

More than 300,000 people fully vaccinated

The province says it has successfully vaccinated more than 300,000 people against COVID-19 since inoculations began in December.

Some 50,000 of those shots went into arms in the last day alone.

A total of 1,603,699 needles have gone into arms over the course of the last four months.  


The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.