Ontario confirmed 149 and 153 new occurrences of COVID-19 over the last two days as the number of active cases province-wide fell to under 2,000.

The province typically releases data on the number of new lab-confirmed cases each morning but it did not do so on the Canada Day holiday and chose instead to release two days’ worth of data on Thursday.

The 149 cases confirmed on July 1 and the 153 cases confirmed on July 2 both represent a decrease on the province’s five-day rolling average of 179 new cases.

They are also the lowest numbers reported in any 24-hour period since June 26.

Of the combined 302 cases confirmed over both days, about 62 per cent of them were in either Toronto (150 cases) or Peel Region (39 cases).

Meanwhile, 23 of Ontario’s 34 public health units reported no new cases over the last two days.

Active cases also declined further after the province said an additional 386 patients recovered from infection.

There are now just 1,960 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 that are still considered active across Ontario.

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health said Thursday that it is reassuring that the numbers are trending down.

"I'd like to get that down to the low (one) hundreds like we had one last week. I need to get one nudging below a hundred if we could. And also the positivity rate is going down," Williams said.

In addition, the reproduction number or R0 is hedging below one and Williams said he would like to see it come down to a 0.8 or 07 on a province-wide basis.

Before the province moves into stage three, he noted that health officials will be watching the change in the positive rates of lab tests, the volume of lab tests, the number that are outbreak-related compared to community-wide spread, and if there is a wide variation among different regions in the province.

Williams also said they are closely monitoring the rise of virus cases south of the border.

“Even though the virus is under control in most settings, including Canada, it has not disappeared. It is still here and if we let our guard down it will come back,” Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch warned during an interview with CP24 on Thursday morning.

“The second point I would make is that opening up this economy is not a one-way street forward and if there are an unacceptable number of new cases of COVID-19 in one particular area we can expect that we will have more public health restrictions and we might have to move back a phase or at least delay going to another phase.”

Eight more deaths

The latest data released by the province indicates that were four more deaths in COVID-19 patients on both July 1 and July 2, bringing the total number of people who have died so far to 2,680.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus on July 1 stood at 119 but the Ministry of Health said that number will likely rise later due to the fact that 30 hospitals failed to report data due to the Canada Day holiday.

Testing, meanwhile, remains near –all-time highs.

Over the last two days the province conducted nearly 50,000 tests, bringing the total number of tests conducted so far neared 1.5 million.

Other highlights from the data:

  • There were 20 new cases reported in Windsor-Essex over the last two days as the province continues to conduct targeted testing of migrant farm workers in the region.
  • There were no new outbreaks reported in long-term care homes over the last two days. Of the 366 outbreaks reported since the beginning of the pandemic, only 60 remain active.
  • There were two more deaths involving long-term care residents. The total number of residents who have died after contracting COVID-19 now stands at 1,712.
  • The total number of people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic now stands at 4,389, accounting for more than 12 per cent of all cases.
  • There have been a total of 35,370 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
  • There have been 1,848 deaths in people over the age of 80. Meanwhile, just 11 people between the ages of 20 and 39 have died.