Ontario is reporting 732 new cases of COVID-19, making it the second day this week in which an alarming new high has been reached.

The number is a big increase on the 538 new cases reported on Thursday but does not represent a significant uptick on the previous record of 700 cases reported on Monday.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases now stands at 582.

It had dipped as low as 85 as recently as early August but public health officials said earlier this week that it has been doubling every 10 to 12 days since then.

They also warned that Ontario will see more than 1,000 daily cases of COVID-19 in the first half of this month, assuming current trends persist.

“As much as possible we need to limit close contact with anyone outside your households,” Premier Doug Ford said on Friday, as he announced new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus in Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region. “My friends, this is serious. We have to offer our full support and every power possible to help our healthcare sector fight this second wave.”

More than 70 per cent of cases are in GTA

More than 70 per cent of the new cases reported on Friday occurred in the GTA, including 323 in Toronto, 111 in Peel Region, 38 in York Region, 34 in Durham Region and 11 in Halton Region.

There were also another 141 new cases reported in Ottawa, which has emerged as the biggest hotspot for transmission outside of the GTA.

While hospitalizations have not increased at the same rate as new cases so far, they too are beginning to climb.

The latest data suggest that there were 167 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of 4 p.m. on Thursday, including 38 in intensive care units. It is a far cry from the peak seen in April when 1,043 people were hospitalized and 264 were in ICU’s but represents a significant uptick from just six weeks ago (Aug. 17) when there were only 37 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals.

Active cases also continue to rise, surpassing 5,000 for the first time since April 29 on Friday. At one point in August, there were only 891 active cases left across the province.

The province also added 76 deaths to its tally on Friday but Health Minister Christine Elliot said that 74 of those were the result of a data review by Toronto Public Health and actually took place this spring and summer.

“You can’t just look at any one day you have to look at a trend line and the trend line has been decidedly negative especially if you look back a month,” Mayor John Tory said during an interview with CP24 earlier on Friday, prior to the release of the latest numbers. “You know if people think back a month the case count (in Toronto) was below 100, way below 100 on some days and now we are into the multiple hundreds and that is just in the space of a few weeks

Other highlights from the data:

  • The province conducted another 40,093 tests on Thursday. Its lab backlog has now risen to more than 90,000 specimens.
  • Those between the ages of 20 and 39 accounted for the plurality of new cases (321). The next most common age group was those between the ages of 40 and 59 (164 cases). Meanwhile, there were 54 new cases in the oldest age demographic tracked by the province (80 and above).
  • There are currently 96 active cases involving long-term care home residents and 137 active cases involving long-term care home staff.
  • The biggest long-term care home outbreak in Toronto is at the Fairview Nursing Home, where 38 residents and 11 staff have contracted the virus.
  • The total death toll across the province since the pandemic began is now 2,927.