The number of new COVID-19 infections reported in Ontario jumped above 3,400 today after falling below 3,000 for the past two days but virus-related hospitalizations still appear to be on the decline.

Ontario is reporting 3,424 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus today, up from 2,941 on Wednesday and 2,791 on Tuesday.

But the rolling seven-day average of daily cases continues to trend downward week-over-week. The average number of new infections each day in Ontario now stands at 3,369, down from 3,810 last Thursday and 4,176 two weeks ago.

Ontario's active caseload also dipped to 34,377 today, down from 38,438 lab-confirmed cases last week.

According to the Ministry of Health, 54,118 tests were processed over the last 24 hours, bringing the provincewide positivity rate to 6.8 per cent, down from 7.6 per cent last week.

With 26 new virus-related deaths confirmed today, the average daily death toll in Ontario is now 26, three fewer than the average reported seven days ago.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said the province is starting to see some encouraging signs that case numbers are coming down.

“Although today’s numbers are up compared to the previous two days, we are seeing some early signs of improvement. The public health measures are having some effect as is the continue vaccination rollout,” she said.

The province is also reporting that there are now 1,964 COVID-19 patients receiving treatment at Ontario hospitals, down from 2,248 last week. Ontario also saw a slight decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care week-over-week.

Information released by individual public health units indicates that there are 2,558 people with COVID-19 in hospital.

The Ministry of Health says there are 877 COVID-19 patients currently in the ICU, down from 884 one week ago.

“While we have seen some improvement, it wasn’t very long ago that we were seeing daily numbers in the 4000s and while we are seeing some reduction in the number of people in hospital and ICU, those numbers are still far too high,” Yaffe added.

She urged people not to gather over the Mother’s Day weekend again this year.

“If Ontario is to end our third pandemic wave and avoid a fourth wave, we must continue to drive transmission down. This will require our continued commitment to those public health measure that we know work,” she said.

“So yes this means that if you don’t live with your mother, I’m sitting here asking Ontarians to celebrate Mother’s Day virtually this weekend. The virus is still spreading.”

When asked if some public health restrictions would be lifted later this month, Yaffe said she would be "surprised" to see a significant reopening in the next few weeks.

"Of course there are active discussions around what to do in terms of what are the thresholds that should be considered for any loosening of restrictions and we don’t know yet but I would say given that the number of cases is so high still, the number of hospitalizations and ICU overload and so on, I would be surprised if things open up at the end of May," she said.

"They may open partially. Certainly we don’t want to open up prematurely and end up with a fourth wave. That is the last thing we need. I think people should remember to follow public health measures, even if you’ve been vaccinated... Remember that it is safer to be outdoors for activity than indoors if you are going to be with other people."

Of the new cases logged today, 958 are in Toronto, 900 are in Peel Region, 291 are in York Region, 175 are in Durham Region and 155 are in Hamilton.

Ontario has now administered more than 5.7 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier this week, officials said thanks to consistent, increased supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, about 65 per cent of all Ontario adults should receive their first shot by the end of the month.

For a two-week period, the province has opted to send 50 per cent of all incoming doses to hot spot communities in an effort to vaccinate those who are most at-risk of infection.

Experts have said that diverting doses to hot spot neighbourhoods will drive down overall case counts, hospitalizations and deaths in the province but many have said the strategy should be extended beyond the planned two-week period. Ontario intends to return to per capita distribution on the week of May 17, officials have confirmed.

On Wednesday, Canada became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in children over the age of 12 but Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of Ontario's vaccine distribution task force, said it may be some time before the province begins to inoculate younger members of the population.

"I don't think we are actually going to start to get needles into arms probably until June, July because we still have a lot of people clearly that still need a first dose," he said.

Bogoch said the approval of a vaccine for more age groups is "good news all around."

"You can create safer schools, create safer activities for young adults and it just helps reduce community transmission," he said.

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.