Ontario records fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for third straight day

Ontario is reporting fewer than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the third straight day.

On Thursday, provincial health officials logged 994 infections of the novel coronavirus, as well as 10 more deaths linked to the disease.

Daily case counts in Ontario have hovered slightly above or below the 1,000 mark for much of the past few weeks.

The province’s seven-day average for number of cases recorded is now 1,063, down from 1,098 one week ago.

There were 65,643 COVID-19 tests completed in Ontario in the last-recorded 24-hour period. The test positivity rate now stands at about 2.1 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health.

Of the new cases logged Thursday, 298 are in Toronto, 171 are in Peel Region and 64 are in York Region.

Thursday’s case count brings the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Ontario to 304,757, including deaths and recoveries.

With the 10 new deaths confirmed by health officials on Thursday, the province’s death toll is now 7,024. Two of the new deaths were residents of the province’s long-term care system.

According to the province, there are at least 649 patients infected with the novel coronavirus in Ontario hospitals as of Thursday. Of those patients, 281 are in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 183 of those 281 patients are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

At this time last week, there were 687 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Ontario, 283 of which were in the ICU and 182 were on a ventilator.

On Thursday, health officials deemed 1,072 more cases of the disease to be resolved, bringing Ontario’s number of recovered patients up to 287,424.

There are currently 10,309 active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, down from 10,550 one week ago.

In Ontario, 784,828 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered thus far, including 30,409 administered in the previous day. The vaccine requires two doses. In Ontario, 268,118 total vaccinations have been completed as of Thursday.

Variants of concern in Ontario

On Thursday, health officials confirmed that 92 more cases of the U.K. variant, also known as B.1.1.7, have been found in Ontario, bringing the province’s total count to 644.

There are now 31 cases of the South African variant, B.1.351 in Ontario after health officials confirmed four more on Thursday.

No new cases of the Brazilian variant, P.1, have been found in Ontario as of Thursday, leaving the province’s total at three.

Modelling data released by the province last week suggested that the highly-contagious COVID-19 variants are expected to make up about 40 per cent of all Ontario cases by the second week of March, leading to a likely increase in daily infections and hospitalizations.