TORONTO -- The total number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario has risen to 1,706, as health officials reported 351 more patients on Monday and confirmed 10 additional deaths.

Monday’s large increase to the number of patients infected with the novel coronavirus is the province’s biggest single-day jump, which health officials are attributing, at least in part, to the clearing of a backlog of pending test results.

There were 23 deaths linked to COVID-19 in the province as of Monday morning, but later in the afternoon, health officials confirmed 10 more fatalities.

"Another death in Haliburton, we're not sure if it's related to the outbreak or not, two additional deaths in Lambton, who are in their 70s or 80s, one in Haldimand-Norfolk, and one in Huron-Perth in their 60s," Ontario’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said during a news conference at Queen's Park.

"That is the extent of the information that I have on those at this point, which is absolutely incomplete of course."

On Monday, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit said seven residents of a long-term care home in Bobcaygeon had died following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus at the facility.

Yaffe added that in Ontario 100 COVID-19 patients are in an intensive care unit, and 61 of those patients are on ventilators.

Ontario releases statistics regarding all COVID-19 patients

While announcing the new patients, the government’s website stated some statistics regarding the demographics of those infected in the province.

According to the website, 50.2 per cent of all patients in Ontario are male and 49.1 per cent are female.

Twelve cases did not specify male or female gender, health officials stated.

Additionally, 2.5 per cent of patients are 19 years of age or younger.

Patients between the ages of 20 and 64 account for 77.3 per cent of total cases, while 20.1 per cent are 65 years of age or older.

The age of two cases is not known, health officials added.

To date, nearly 50,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Ontario.

Health officials also said that in the past 24 hours they have conducted 4,000 tests for COVID-19, adding that the number of daily tests is expected to rise, with a goal of 19,000 tests a day by mid-April.

Number of recovered patients up drastically

The number of resolved cases in the province has climbed drastically from eight patients to 431.

Previously, patients’ cases were not considered to be resolved until they had tested negative for the virus two times 24 hours apart. Now, a case is considered to be resolved if they are reported as recovered in the integrated Public Health Information System and their case is not currently listed as hospitalized in the system, or they are 14 days past symptom onset or 14 days past the episode date if the case is closed.

There are no specific treatments for the virus and there is no vaccine that protects against it.

Symptoms of the virus, which can include fever, cough and shortness of breath, are similar to other respiratory infections.

The Ontario government’s website advises those experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus to contact their primary health care provider or Telehealth Ontario.

Recommendation on face masks

As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to increase, so too does the debate surrounding face masks.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams addressed the issue at Monday’s news conference saying that he would prefer people who are not healthcare providers or part of an essential service to “kept two metres” a part instead.

“I’ve seen some people with masks who tend to be able to think that they can ignore that,” Williams said, adding that the face coverings don’t offer the benefit of social distancing.

“I would still prefer the social distancing and physical distancing as compared to a number of people wearing masks and standing in clumps and large groups together. I can’t support that at all.”

Yaffe agreed and said that masks can also offer a “false sense of security” as users tend to touch their faces more often to adjust the fit.

Yaffe added that if you are symptomatic, and checking into an assessment centre or hospital, you should wear a mask to prevent transmission of your symptoms to others.