TORONTO -- Ontario is reporting more than 3,400 new COVID-19 cases as the number of patients in intensive care with the disease appears to be trending downwards.

The 3,424 infections reported Thursday represent an increase over Wednesday’s total when 2,941 were added. A day earlier, the province logged 2,791 cases.

Thursday’s report marks the fifth straight day in which COVID-19 admissions to an intensive care unit (ICU) have declined.

ICU admissions reached an all-time high of 900 at the start of the month and now sit at 877. Before then, the number of patients in the ICU had been steadily growing since mid March.

Less than a month ago, Ontario Health Executive Vice President Dr. Chris Simpson had warned that reaching 900 COVID-19 patients in the ICU could result in a triage protocol that would see some of the oldest and sickest patients not receive the highest level of care available.

However, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott told CP24 earlier this week that arrows are starting to point away from that worst-case scenario.

Labs across Ontario processed 54,118 tests in the last 24 hours yielding a positivity rate of 6.8 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the province has logged 483,057 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 440,467 recoveries and 8,213 deaths. At least 26 of those deaths were reported in the previous day. 

The seven-day average for number of cases reported in Ontario is 3,368, down from 3,810 reported this time last week. 

Right now, there are 34,377 active cases of the novel coronavirus across the province. 

Where are the new COVID-19 cases?

Most of the cases reported Thursday were found in Toronto (958), Peel Region (900), and York Region (291).

The province also reported case counts in the triple digits for Durham Region (175), Hamilton (155), Halton Region (129), Niagara Region (127), and Ottawa (108).

Ontario has been operating under a provincewide stay-at-home order for nearly a month. The order is set to expire on May 20 at the earliest.

Speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said she would be "surprised" to see everything reopen at that point.

"Of course there are active discussions around what to do in terms of what are the thresholds that should be considered for any loosening of restrictions and we don’t know yet but I would say given that the number of cases is so high still, the number of hospitalizations and ICU overload and so on, I would be surprised if things open up at the end of May," she said.

"They may open partially. Certainly we don’t want to open up prematurely and end up with a fourth wave. That is the last thing we need. I think people should remember to follow public health measures, even if you’ve been vaccinated... Remember that it is safer to be outdoors for activity than indoors if you are going to be with other people."

Yaffe also warned Ontario residents to be mindful of the stay-at-home order this Mother's Day and to only celebrate with members of their own household.

Update on COVID-19 variants of concern in Ontario

Another 2,839 cases of the COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.7 were confirmed in the last 24-hour period, bringing the case total for the strain that was first found in the U.K. to 83,350.

Meanwhile, labs linked 54 additional swabs back to the variant P.1, (Brazillian variant), which pushes the case total to 1,055.

Nine other swabs were also connected to the B.1.351 variant, which was discovered in South Africa. There are 326 confirmed cases of the strain.

Ontario does not currently report the number of B.1.617 variant infections, which was first documented in India.

Ontario administers record number of vaccines

Premier Doug Ford announced that Ontario reached a single-day record for the number of vaccines administered.

In a tweet published Thursday, Ford said 141,038 needles went into arms on Wednesday alone.

“With over 5.7 million doses administered to day, we are making great progress thanks to the hard work of our front line heath care heroes,” he said.

The province said that 384,589 people have received both their first and second shots and are considered to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.   

With files from CTV News Toronto's Katherine DeClerq.


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.