TORONTO -- Ontario health officials are reporting more than 1,700 new cases of COVID-19 for the sixth straight day as the number of deaths related to the disease spike in the province.

The province recorded 1,723 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, which comes after 1,707 new infections were reported on Tuesday, 1,746 were reported on Monday and 1,798 were reported on Sunday.

The province also reported that 35 more people have died due to the disease on Wednesday. The last time the province reported a death count that high was on Nov. 25, when the province also recorded 35 new deaths, which marked a record-breaking number amid the second wave.

Seniors continue to be the age group hardest hit by the pandemic. According to the province’s epidemiology report, 22 of the 35 deaths were people living in long-term care homes.

More than 2,500 people over the age of 80 have lost their lives to the disease since January, when the pandemic struck Ontario. In total, 3,698 people in the province died since then.

The total number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario now stands at 119,922, including the deaths and the 101,698 recoveries.

There are 656 people currently in Ontario hospitals fighting COVID-19, with at least 183 of those patients in an intensive care unit and 106 of them breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

The province has said that once the number of COVID-19 patients in Ontario’s intensive care units surpasses 150, it becomes more difficult for hospitals to support medical needs not related to the disease.

Where are the COVID-19 cases in Ontario?

The three COVID-19 hot spots continue to be the most impacted regions in the province. Locally, 500 new cases were reported in Peel Region, 410 new cases were reported in Toronto and 196 new cases were reported in York Region.

Toronto’s daily case count dropped significantly on Wednesday after two days of reporting record-breaking numbers above the 600 mark. The city, along with Peel Region, have been in a lockdown since Nov. 23.

The province closed non-essential businesses in these regions, including shopping malls, personal care services and gyms, for 28 days to curb the spread of the virus.

Several other regions in Ontario reported COVID-19 case numbers in the triple and double digits on Wednesday.

Durham Region reported 124 new cases, Waterloo reported 103 new cases, Hamilton reported 74 new cases, Windsor-Essex reported 60 new cases, Ottawa reported 46 new cases and Simcoe Muskoka and Halton Region reported 45 new cases each.

Most of the new cases of COVID-19 reported on Wednesday involve people under the age of 80.

There were 642 infections in people between the ages of 20 and 39, at least 486 in people between the ages of 40 and 59 and 237 in people between the ages of 60 and 79. There were 264 cases in people under the age of 19.

COVID-19 testing in Ontario

For a number of days now, the province has been reporting testing numbers below their own daily goal of 50,000.

On Wednesday, the province stated that health officials completed 44,226 tests over a 24-hour period. Ontario’s COVID-19 positivity rate now stands at 4.7 per cent.

The day before, the province recorded the highest positivity rate in more than a week after officials processed 34,640 tests and logged 1,707 cases, which resulted in a 5.1 per cent positivity rate.

In total, Ontario has processed more than 6.3 million tests since the pandemic began in January. There are 49,574 COVID-19 tests still under investigation.