Premier Doug Ford says his government is looking to introduce some "tough" new measures in the province's COVID-19 hot spots as new infections, ICU admissions, and deaths continue to rise in Ontario.

While the number of new COVID-19 infections in the province saw a notable dip today, deaths and intensive care admissions show no signs of slowing as Ontario continues to grapple with the second wave of the pandemic.

Provincial health officials recorded another 1,210 new COVID-19 cases today, down from the 1,417 reported yesterday and the 1,575 recorded one week ago.

The rolling seven-day average, which now stands at 1,369, is down from 1,421 yesterday but still up slightly from 1,299 one week ago.

Of the new cases reported today, 361 are in Peel, 346 are in Toronto, and 143 are in York Region.

The recent case numbers are a far cry from what the province’s official modelling table had predicted just last week.

In the latest modelling data, which was released one week ago today, Ontario was on track to see as many as 3,000 new cases per day at this point, more than double the number of cases reported today.

Even in the most optimistic of scenarios, where Ontario saw a growth rate of about three per cent, the modelling table projected that would mean about 1,600 new cases today, about 400 more infections than what was actually reported.

For the second day in a row, recoveries outpaced new infections, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 12,628, down from 12,822 on Wednesday.

The number of active infections is still higher than the 11,271 confirmed at this point last week.

Nearly 42,000 tests were completed over the past 24 hours, resulting in a test positivity rate of 4.1 per cent, down from 4.5 on Wednesday and 4.3 per cent one week ago.

The test positivity rate, which is calculated by the province, takes duplicate tests and errors into account.

Deaths, hospitalizations rise

Despite the dip in new cases and active infections, deaths and hospitalizations continue to rise in Ontario.

Another 28 deaths were recorded today and 32 new virus-related fatalities were confirmed on Wednesday.

Fifteen of the deaths reported today involved residents of long-term care homes.

The province's summary today indicates that there are 526 people infected with COVID-19 receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals, but that number is actuallly closer to 542, according to data from local public health units and individual hospitals.

The province says that of those hospitalized with the disease, 146 are in intensive care, however it appears that number also may not be entirely up to date.

Recent data from Critical Care Services Ontario suggests that the province has already hit 150 ICU admissions, reaching the threshold that will force some hospitals to cancel elective surgeries and other procedures.

The province's projections released last week said that ICU capacity would exceed the 150 mark "within two weeks."

"The numbers are very concerning. They are increasing even though there have been some restrictions in place since Oct. 10. We are not seeing any flattening of the curve, in fact the numbers are continuing to rise quite rapidly," Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Thursday. 

"So it is something that we are keeping a very close eye on and there will be more numbers coming in tonight and we will be receiving recommendations from the chief medical officer and the public health measures table."

'We have some difficult but necessary decisions to make'

Premier Doug Ford has warned that new restrictions will be coming in some regions in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and protect the health-care system.

"Tomorrow our government will release further public health restrictions based on the best medical advice and as it is looking these measures will have to be tough in the hardest hit areas,"Ford said on Thursday.

"We are seeing concerning trends. Our hospital ICUs are in jeopardy. Our long-term care homes are at risk. We have some difficult but necessary decisions to make."

Toronto, Peel Region, Hamilton, Halton Region and York Region are currently in the “red” zone of the province's colour-coded framework for COVID-19 restrictions, one step away from the "grey" category, which represents a full-scale lockdown.

Ford has not said if he plans to implement lockdowns in any of the regions or simply introduce added measures to the red zone.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist, told CP24 on Thursday that regardless of what measures the premier opts to put in place, it is clear "the status quo is not working."

"We still have a very significant number of cases per day and with that significant number of cases per day, that's actually translating into many hospitals... being stretched. We are at a point now where some hospitals are actually cancelling scheduled surgeries and are shuffling patients to other hospitals in the GTA because they can't care for the patients that are coming in their doors.," he said.

"That is clearly not a good place to be. When you start to see things happening and headed down that pathway, you have to pivot and pivot quickly because we've seen this before. We know what happens when healthcare systems get stretched beyond capacity. We've seen this before in other parts of the world. We don't need to have that."

New cases in the GTHA:

Peel Region: 361

Toronto: 346

York Region: 143

Durham Region: 57

Halton Region: 35

Hamilton: 37