TORONTO -- Ontario is reporting just under 300 new COVID-19 cases along with six additional deaths related to the disease.

Health officials logged 296 new infections on Thursday, marking a jump from the 255 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.

This is the fourth day in a row in which the daily COVID-19 case count in Ontario has been below the 300 mark.

The seven-day rolling average of daily COVID-19 cases now stands at about 305, a significant decrease from the week before when the average was 410.

With just over 29,500 COVID-19 tests processed in the last 24-hour period, the Ministry of Health says the province’s positivity rate has declined to about 1.1 per cent.

The last time the positivity rate was this low was on Sept. 25.

According to the Ontario Hospital Association, the number of patients in intensive care with COVID-19 related critical illness has now dipped below 300, with 299 patients.

Of the cases reported on Thursday, 95 cases were in the Waterloo Region.

According to the province’s epidemiology report, there are 35 cases in Toronto, 20 in Peel Region, 19 in Hamilton, 17 in Ottawa, 16 in Durham Region and 14 in York Region.

This marks Toronto’s lowest single-day case count since Sept. 3.

All other public health units are reporting fewer than 10 new COVID-19 cases.

The total number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ontario now stands at 543,315, including deaths and recoveries.

The new cases come as the government announces Ontario is moving to Step 2 of its economic reopening plan two days early. This means that as of June 30, small gatherings of up to five people will now be allowed indoors and personal care services will be permitted to resume.

The province was originally scheduled to move into this stage on July 2.

More than 3.5 million people in Ontario have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and are considered fully immunized.

In the last 24-hour period, the province has administered 225,188 doses of vaccine.

Backstory:

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