Paramedics unload a patient at an hospital emergency department in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, December 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario is reporting a record-breaking number of new COVID-19 cases for the third consecutive day as case numbers climb above the 3,000 mark for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

The 3,328 cases mark a significant increase over Wednesday’s total, when a record 2,923 infections were logged. Another 2,553 cases were reported on Tuesday, which was also a record-setting number at the time.

This comes as deaths related to the novel coronavirus spike to levels unseen since the first wave of the pandemic. At least 56 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours, which is the highest number since May 12, when the same number of deaths were added. 

Thirty-nine of those who died were residents of a long-term care home. 

Thursday’s report brings Ontario’s lab-confirmed COVID-19 case total to 182,159, including 4,530 deaths and 156,012 recoveries.

With 63,858 tests processed in the previous day, the province’s COVID-19 positivity rate sits at about 5.7 per cent. 

Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott shared the numbers in a tweet published Thursday morning while advising residents to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home to curb the spread of infection.

“Connect virtually to keep in touch with extended family and friends. If you live alone, consider exclusively celebrating with one additional household,” she said.

Ontario has been operating under a province-wide lockdown since Boxing Day which forced the closure of most non-essential businesses.

The stringent measures are slated to be in effect until at least Jan. 9. The lockdown restrictions will continue for all 27 public health units in Southern Ontario until at least Jan. 23. 

Most of the cases reported Thursday were found in just a handful of regions across the province.

There were 888 new cases logged in Toronto, which is down from the record-breaking 998 cases reported in the city by the province a day earlier.

Peel Region added 431 new cases while York Region added 418 new cases. Another 257 cases were found in Windsor-Essex.

Meanwhile, Ottawa, Durham Region, the City of Hamilton, Niagara Region and Waterloo all reported case numbers above 100. 

Right now, there are 1,235 patients in hospital with COVID-19.

Of those patients, 337 are being treated in an intensive care unit, 210 of which are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.