TORONTO -- Ontario has logged nearly 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 more deaths as hospitalizations related to the disease continue to drop.

Health officials reported 1,489 new infections on Sunday, marking an increase from the 1,388 cases confirmed a day earlier.

There were 1,670 cases of the novel coronavirus reported on Friday, 1,563 on Thursday, and 1,172 on Wednesday.

The new cases reported Sunday bring the province’s seven-day average to 1,428.

According to Sunday’s epidemiology report, there are now 174 confirmed cases of the U.K. B.1.1.7. COVID-19 variant in the province, up from the 164 infections reported on Saturday.

There continues to be only one case of the South African B.1.351 variant, according to the province.

Of the 6,505 deaths recorded in Ontario since the beginning of the pandemic, 4,470 were people over the age of 80. A little more than 3,700 were residents in long-term care homes, including 13 deaths logged in the last 24 hours.

The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals has dipped below the 1,000 mark for the first time since the beginning of January, according to the Ministry of Health. Of the 926 people hospitalized for the disease, at least 335 are in the intensive care unit and 233 of those patients are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

However, government officials said that more than 10 per cent of hospitals did not submit data over the weekend.

“We anticipate the number of hospitalized patients may increase when reporting compliance increases,” the government said.”

The dip in hospitalizations comes as a new facility opens up in Vaughan, Ont. in an effort to ease the burden the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on hospitals in York Region and Toronto.

The total number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario now stands at 278,207, including deaths and recoveries.

Where are the new COVID-19 cases?

The majority of new infections were found in three of Ontario’s COVID-19 hot spots. According to provincial data, there were 517 cases in Toronto, 261 in Peel Region and 121 in York Region.

Public Health Units reporting more than 50 new COVID-19 cases include Ottawa (57), Durham Region (50), Hamilton (88), Halton (61) and Waterloo (54).

Officials processed more than 51,600 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours, which the Ministry of Health says brings the positivity rate in Ontario to about 2.8 per cent.

There are currently more than 16,500 COVID-19 tests under investigation.

As of Saturday night, 101,744 people in the province have been fully vaccinated against the disease. Full immunization requires two doses of either the approved Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccines.


NOTE: 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