TORONTO -- The number of single day COVID-19 cases in Ontario has dropped significantly, with provincial health officials confirming 347 new cases and 45 more deaths.

This marks the lowest number of patients recorded in a single day since April 6

Following a spike last week, the province was experiencing a three-day decrease in cases of the novel coronavirus until Tuesday, when 525 new patients were reported, as well as a record-high in single-day deaths.

On Tuesday, officials urged residents not to make any conclusions based on the spike in cases and deaths.

“We’ve been saying all along that data collections systems change and vary,” Ontario Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams told reporters. “Some of these blips, these one-day things, are to be looked at but it’s the overall trend that is important to see.”

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the decreasing number of cases a 'positive trend' that is inspiring hope.

"This is a positive trend, a positive trend to give people hope that we are getting close to opening up. I can’t give you dates right now, but what I can give you is hope," he said. 

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario now stands at 15,728, including 996 deaths and 9,612 recoveries.

DAILY BREAKDOWN: Spread of COVID-19 in Ontario

According to Wednesday’s epidemiologic summary, another person between the ages of 20 and 39 has died. The seven COVID-19 patients in this age group represent the province’s youngest to succumb to the virus.

Of those who have died, health officials said that about 680 are 80 years of age or older.

Two hundred and sixty-four of the deceased are between the ages of 60 and 70, while 45 of those who died are between the ages of 40 and 59.

There have been no deaths reported in patients under the age of 20.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care is reporting that at least 775 residents at long-term care homes in the province have died.

There is a discrepancy between deaths reported through the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) and the long-term care homes themselves. The data provided in the province’s epidemiologic summary was taken from iPHIS as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday and from the Toronto Public Health Coronavirus Rapid Entry System as of 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

The epidemiologic summary is reporting 521 deaths in long-term care homes. It also confirmed that more than 2,100 health-care workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

At a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, the province released information relating to COVID-19 in Ontario’s retirement homes.

Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that as of Wednesday, there are 67 homes experiencing an outbreak, resulting in 419 cases and 77 deaths among residents, as well as 223 cases among staff members.

However, like long-term care homes, Yaffe noted that the PHIS numbers differ from what’s being reported by the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. Those numbers show a total of 61 outbreaks, with 20 outbreaks resolved, representing 593 cases and 117 resident deaths and 263 staff infections.

“The numbers are different,” Yaffe said. “A challenge that we’re trying to address to bring the two databases together and figure out what the real information is.”

There are currently 977 people being treated for the virus in hospital, the province said, including 235 in the intensive care unit (ICU). Of those in the ICU, 186 are on a ventilator.

About 11.4 per cent of all COVID-19 patients have been treated at the hospital at some point.

Quick facts on all Ontario COVID-19 patients:

• 41.6 per cent of all patients in the province are male and 57.5 per cent are female – 141 cases did not specify male or female gender

• 44.9 per cent of all patients are 60 years of age or older – seven cases did not specify their age

• 2.3 per cent of all patients are 19 years of age or younger

• 22.8 per cent of all patients are between the ages of 20 and 39

• 30.6 per cent of all patients are between the ages of 40 and 59

• 22.2 per cent of all patients are between the ages of 60 and 79

• 22.7 per cent of all patients are 80 years of age or older

• Public health units in the Greater Toronto Area account for 59.2 per cent of all cases

• 13.9 per cent off all patients are health-care workers

• 8.7 per cent of all patients had travelled in the 14 days prior to becoming ill

• 19.9 per cent of all patients had contact with a previously confirmed case

• 37.5 per cent of all patients had community exposure

• 33.9 per cent of all patients had exposure information listed as pending

COVID-19 testing in Ontario

Just over 11,500 tests were conducted by health officials in the last 24 hours, an increase from Tuesday but still below the province’s daily goal of 12,500.

There are currently 9,530 test samples still being investigated.

Officials say they have conducted more than 260,000 tests across the province so far.

Province’s top doctor on weekend weather: 'Plan ahead'

As Ontarians prepare to spend another weekend indoors, the province’s top doctor acknowledges that might be particularly difficult with the upcoming forecast.

“On a weekend where there’s good weather, I know it’s very hard for people to stay inside,” Dr. Williams said Wednesday.

In Toronto, the forecast is calling for a high of 14 C on Saturday and 16 C on Sunday with mostly sunny skies. With that, many residents may venture outdoors to enjoy the weather, but Williams says you should plan ahead before doing so.

“I’m not discouraging people from going outdoors to do something, but you’ll do that in areas where you can seek to maintain your physical distance.”

“That’s why the planning part is important, rather than on a whim, because if you have the whim, you’re probably going to do the same as 5,000 other people and you’re out doing the same thing in the same place. That’s not the plan.”

Williams also commented on Ontarian’s eager to visit their cottages this weekend while advising those trips should be done responsibly, with their own supplies as to not weigh on the local resources.