Ontario recorded 20 more deaths linked to COVID-19 today, the highest single-day death toll logged since late May, as virus-related hospitalizations continue to climb in the province.

According to the latest data, there are now 2,279 COVID-19 patients receiving treatment in hospital in Ontario, up from 2,081 on Wednesday.

The province says of the patients currently receiving treatment in hospital, 319 are in intensive care, up from 200 just seven days ago. Officials say 232 patients in the ICU are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 87 are fully vaccinated.

Another 20 virus-related deaths were confirmed today, the highest single-day death toll reported since May 29, 2021, when 22 deaths were logged.

Outbreaks in long-term care homes in Ontario also jumped to 291 today, up from 254 on Wednesday.

Ontario labs confirmed 13,339 new cases of the virus today but with limited test capacity being reserved exclusively for select groups, most members of the public do not have access to a COVID-19 test and as a result, the number of new cases in the province each day is likely substantially higher than what is being reported. The new cases today involve 1,797 who are unvaccinated, 452 who are partially immunized, 10,648 fully vaccinated Ontarians, and 442 with an unknown vaccination status.

Just over 59,000 tests were processed by the province over the past 24 hours, resulting in a test positivity rate of 29.2 per cent.

Hospitalizations involving children continue to rise in Ontario, particularly in children under the age of five. Public Health Ontario says that as of Jan. 4, there were 38 children between the ages of 0-4 hospitalized with COVID-19.

On Wednesday night, Toronto Public Health confirmed that one recent death in the province involved a child under the age of four.

The province’s data indicates that two deaths involving people under the age of 19 have been recorded within the past two weeks, bringing the total number of deaths in that age cohort to nine.

"Obviously it is just awful to hear about the death of anyone, especially when we hear about a death in a younger individual. Tragic," Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist with Toronto General Hospital, told CP24 on Thursday morning.

"We still know that COVID in general doesn't cause as severe illness in kids as it does in adults but that doesn't mean it can't happen. And sadly, we are starting to see more and more of these cases of kids getting sick enough to land in hospital and some rare but still very serious reports of kids succumbing to this illness. This is very likely just going to be a reflection of how significant and how much community transmission there is."

On Thursday, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) confirmed that as of Jan. 5, paediatric ICU occupancy is at about 70 per cent while adult occupancy is at about 77 per cent. As of Jan. 4, hospitals in the province are at about 91 per cent capacity when it comes to all available beds, according to the OHA.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.