TORONTO -- Ontario health officials are reporting just over 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 as the positivity rate in the province continues to dip amid increased testing.

The province confirmed 1,038 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, just a day after officials logged fewer than 900 new cases for the first time since October.

With just over 56,000 tests completed, the Ontario Ministry of Health reported the province’s positivity rate now stands at 2.2 per cent on Tuesday.

The province’s seven-day average for number of cases recorded is now 1,015 , down from 1,264 one week ago.

Health officials also reported that 44 more people have died due to COVID-19, which marks a significant increase from the 10 reported on Wednesday. Thirteen of the deaths reported on Thursday are residents in long-term care homes.

In total, the province has recorded 6,773 deaths related to the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic

Officials reported that 758 people are currently in hospital due to COVID-19, but noted some hospitals have not submitted data on their bed use, which may have resulted in an underestimation. Just over 277 of those patients are in intensive care, and 192 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

The province also deemed 1,277 more cases of the disease to be resolved as of Thursday, bringing Ontario’s number of recovered patients up to 272,146.

Thursday’s report brings the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Ontario to 289,621, including deaths and recoveries.

Where are the COVID-19 cases in Ontario?

Most of the new cases are concentrated in hot spot regions in the Greater Toronto Area. Officials reported 376 new cases in Toronto, 142 in Peel and 122 in York Region on Thursday.

Most other regions in Ontario reported fewer than 50 new cases. Twenty-seven of these regions transitioned into the province's colour-coded reopening framework on Tuesday. Three regions already transitioned last week.

Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and North Bay Parry Sound District are not included in the regions moving into the tiered system and the province says its stay-at-home order will remain in place until at least Feb. 22.

Toronto and Peel Region both advised the province on Wednesday to extend the current strict lockdown measures for an additional two weeks.

Variants in Ontario

Officials confirmed there are 348 cases of the U.K. variant, also known as B.1.1.7, and 10 cases of the South African variant, also known as B.1.351, found in Ontario as of Thursday. The province has also noted that one case of the Brazil variant, also known as P.1, was also found in Ontario.

Provincial health officials reported that about 79.9 per cent of the variant cases were associated with an outbreak or were a close contact of a confirmed case. About 7.2 per cent of cases were linked to travel, while about 12.3 per cent had no known epidemiological link.

Last week, experts, who presented the province’s most recent modelling data, warned that the COVD-19 variants could lead to a possible third wave of the disease. They noted, however, that aggressive vaccination and a stay-at-home order could help combat the spread of these more-contagious variants.

A total of 205,802 people in Ontario have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and are now fully vaccinated against the disease. 


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.