TORONTO -- For the first time since December, Ontario is reporting fewer than 1,800 new cases of COVID-19 as the number of tests performed falls well below provincial lab capacity.

The 1,740 infections reported on Tuesday represent a drop from the 1,958 on Monday and are down further from the 2,417 cases logged on Sunday. The last time new case numbers were that low was on Dec. 13 when 1,677 cases were added.

However, with only 30,717 tests processed in the last 24 hours, Ontario's COVID-19 positivity rate stands at 5.9 per cent. The province has previously said that labs across the province can process up to 70,000 tests per day.

Tuesday’s report brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario to 258,700, including deaths and recoveries.

At least 63 COVID-19-related deaths occurred in the previous day -- 35 of which were in residents of a long-term care home -- pushing the province's death toll to 5,909.

As well, 2,261 more cases are now considered to be resolved. Since the pandemic began, 229,755 previously infected patients have recovered.

The province's seven-day average for number of cases reported is 2,346. This time last week, that number was 2,893.

There are currently 23,036 active cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario.

The news comes a day after the provincial government officially extended its state of emergency and all orders associated with it, including the stay-at-home order, for an additional 14 days.

The state of emergency, that was declared under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) on Jan. 12, and the stay-at-home order is set to expire on Feb. 9, the government said.

The announcement of the extension was expected after Premier Doug Ford said on Jan. 12 that the state of emergency would be in effect for 28 days. A state of emergency in Ontario must be legally extended by the government 14 days after it comes into effect.

Meanwhile, provincial health officials said Monday that the U.K. coronavirus variant may cause more severe illness in some people as the total number of those infected with the strain in Ontario reached 43.

“There is some initial data that suggests that it's both more transmissible … and now there is more recent evidence to suggest that it might cause more severe disease in some individuals,” Dr. Vanessa Allen, chief of microbiology and laboratory science at Public Health Ontario, told reporters.

Where are the new COVID-19 cases?

Most of the new infections were found in just a handful of regions in Ontario.

According to data released by the province, Toronto reported 677 cases, Peel Region reported 320, and York Region reported 144.

Several other regions recorded new case numbers in the double digits, including Waterloo (77), Hamilton (59) Windsor-Essex (59), Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (55) and Durham Region (51).

There are currently 1,466 patients in hospital with COVID-19. Of those patients, 383 are receiving treatment in intensive care and 298 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

Update on vaccinations

As of Tuesday, 295,817 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the province.

Nearly 10,000 of those doses were administered in the last 24 hours.

At least 83,285 people have received their required first and second shots and are considered fully vaccinated at this point.

With files from Sean Davidson and Miriam Katawazi.