TORONTO -- Mayor John Tory is making a final plea to residents to refrain from attending New Year’s Eve celebrations tonight amid what he says has been a “deeply disturbing” rise in the number of COVID-19 cases locally.

Toronto’s rolling seven-day average of new cases currently stands at 703 but in recent days there has been a marked increase in positives, with the city reporting a record 1,069 new infections on Wednesday.

Hospital capacity is also becoming an issue with 74 COVID-19 patients now being treated in intensive care in the city’s hospitals.

In a statement released late on Thursday afternoon, Tory said that the numbers should be a “reminder about the need to celebrate New Year's Eve differently this year.”

“I really hope this New Year's Eve is a night when the streets are largely empty of cars and people, and the transit system is carrying only essential workers as we decide to start 2021 doing what will save lives and keep our hospital system functioning: STAYING HOME and celebrating only with people we live with,” he said. “Please do this for yourselves and for your own health and for the health of the fellow Torontonians with whom we share this wonderful city. Please do this for the frontline workers in hospitals and long-term care homes who have worked non-stop throughout this pandemic.”

The city has cancelled its usual New Year’s Eve celebration at Nathan Phillips Square due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will instead stage a light show on the CN Tower in conjunction with a radio broadcast on CHUM 104.5 FM.

There are also a number of other virtual events being put on by community groups and businesses in the city.