While Ontario saw a slight increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections today, active cases are on the decline for the first time in several weeks.

The province is reporting 583 new infections today, up from the 548 confirmed one day earlier, but for the first time since Sept. 2, recoveries outpaced new infections.

Provincial health officials say that today's data indicates that there have been 707 additional recoveries, pushing the number of active cases in the province down to 5,344 from 5,469 on Tuesday.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases is now 605.

Ontario processed more than 43,000 tests over the past 24 hours and the province's positivity rate remains at 1.3 per cent.

The province did not put a dent in its testing backlog over the past 24 hours as the number of specimens still waiting to be processed remains essentially unchanged at 55,000.

In an effort to deal with the backlog of tests and prepare for the winter, the province switched all of its testing centres to appointment-only this week, leaving many struggling to secure a time for a test.

The number of patients infected with COVID-19 who are receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals is now 195, according to centrally confirmed data. That is up from 192 on Tuesday and 176 on Monday.

Patients in intensive case inched up to 43 today and there are now believed to be 28 people breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

With one new death reported today, there have now been 2,988 virus-related deaths in Ontario since the start of the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, the highest number of cases continue to be in the province's large urban centres with a significant  uptick in Ottawa today.

According to the province's latest epidemiological summary, 121 new cases were reported in Ottawa, about double the number of new infections confirmed one day earlier.

Toronto saw 173 new cases over the past 24 hours, down slightly from the 201 confirmed on Tuesday. 

While new cases rose to 75 in York Region, up from 56, the number of new infections in Peel Region actually declined to 70, down from 90 on Tuesday.

Today's numbers come following the release of a Toronto Star story that said new provincial data indicates some Toronto neighbourhoods are seeing test positivity rates of more than 10 per cent.

Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, called the report "very concerning."

“I haven’t actually seen the data myself. I’ve read the article in the paper. That is very concerning," Yaffe said on Tuesday. “Those rates are high."

Ontario seeing 'a little bit of a flattening,' Ford says

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford denied that the situation in Ontario is getting worse.

"I'll be very frank, I'm hearing the total opposite. We are flattening the curve, we are putting the protocols in," he said.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 that despite the premier's assertion that we are "flattening the curve," that does not appear to be the case.

"I don't unfortunately think that the curve is flattening in Ontario just yet based on the data that we have," he said.

On Wednesday, Ford once again asserted that the province is seeing "a little bit of a flattening" but acknowledged that the situation could change quickly.

"I could say that today over the last few days we’ve seen low 600s and then we dipped into the 500s a few times and then god forbid, over the next week we could see it jump up," the premier said. 

He warned that larger family gatherings for Thanksgiving this weekend could lead to a spike in cases.

"Thanksgiving is normally a time when people get together with family and friends, but these aren’t normal times. In the United States on the fourth of July, and here at home on the Civic Holiday and Labour Day, we saw people relax, we saw them let their guard down, and as a result, we saw the numbers spike in the cases and contacts," he said. 

"This Thanksgiving weekend, it is not enough just to limit the size of our gatherings, we need to stick to our immediate households... I know that this will be very, very tough."

Ford caused some confusion on Tuesday after suggesting that the Thanksgiving gathering at his own home would include "no more than 10" people.

Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health previously advised the public to only gather with those they live with for Thanksgiving this year.

Ford later clarified that his dinner would be only with members of his household, which includes his wife and two of his daughters.

"Sometimes the messaging isn’t as clear as it should be and it all comes down to communicating with each other better and I think we all need to do a better job, even myself included," Ford said on Wednesday.

"I misspoke one word and bang, you’re off to the races. So we have to be just a lot clearer, all levels of government and all chief medical officers, in the communication."

New cases in the GTA:

Toronto: 173

York Region: 75

Peel Region: 70

Halton Region: 15

Durham Region: 12