TORONTO -- COVID-19 deaths in Ontario have surpassed 9,000 as the province logged more than 350 new infections Saturday.

The 13 deaths reported in the last 24 hours bring Ontario’s COVID-19 death toll to 9,007.

Another 355 new cases of the novel coronavirus were added, pushing the province’s case total to 541,880, including 529,002 recoveries.

With 25,368 swabs processed across the province in the previous day, the Ministry of Health says that Ontario’s COVID-19 positivity rate stands at 1.4 per cent.

The seven-day average for the number of cases reported is 389. A week ago, that number was 533.

Right now, there are 336 patients in hospital with COVID-19. Of those patients, 335 are being treated in intensive care and 221 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator. 

Where are the new COVID-19 cases?

Most of the cases logged Saturday were found in Toronto (58), Waterloo (54), and Peel Region (45).

Case numbers in the double digits were also recorded by Porcupine Health Unit, Halton Region, Hamilton, Windsor-Essex, York Region, Durham Region, Ottawa, and North Bay.

Ontario is currently in Step 1 of its reopening plan which allows for outdoor dining, limited access to non-essential retail, and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

On Friday, Ontario passed the threshold to move into Step 2 as 75 per cent of eligible residents received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 20 per cent are now considered fully vaccinated after receiving both a first and second shot.

However, the province's top doctor said he would only consider speeding up next stage of the reopening process by "a day or two."

Ontario is set to enter Step 2 -- which allows for indoor gatherings of up to five people and outdoor gatherings of 25 people -- on July 2 at the earliest. 

Update on COVID-19 variants

The province confirmed nearly 400 more cases of COVID-19 variants of concern Saturday.

Of the 397 lab-confirmed samples, 286 are of the Alpha variant, first discovered in the U.K. The case total for that strain sits at 141,986.

Another eight cases of the Beta variant, first discovered in South Africa, were also confirmed, bringing its case total to 1,154.

Twenty-nine cases of the Gamma variant, first discovered in Brazil, were added, which brings the case total to 4,229.

At least 74 instances of the Delta variant, first reported in India, were also confirmed, pushing its case total to 731. 

Record 213,236 vaccine doses administered in Ontario

The province says it administered a record 213,236 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the last 24-hour period.

Over 12 million needles have gone into arms throughout the course of Ontario’s vaccination campaign.

That number includes 2,725,302 residents who have received both a first and second dose and are considered to be fully vaccinated against the disease. 

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.