Ontario is reporting fewer than 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus, with nearly 26,000 tests processed yesterday.

Provincial health officials logged 975 new infections on Tuesday, marking the first time in almost a week where the daily case count dipped below 1,000.

The province recorded 1,058 new cases on Monday, 1,087 on Sunday, 1,228 on Saturday and 1,150 on Friday.

The seven-day rolling average of new infections now stands at 1,055, slightly up from 1,034 a week ago.

Ontario is also reporting 12 more virus-related fatalities, bringing the province’s death toll to 6,884.

Of the latest deaths, one was a long-term care home resident.

There are currently 121 long-term care homes and 69 retirement homes with an active outbreak of COVID-19 across the province.

According to the province’s latest epidemiological summary, 1,002 more people have recovered from the disease, resulting in 10,296 active cases.

Provincial health officials are reporting no new cases of highly-contagious COVID-19 variants of concern on Tuesday.

To date, there have been 390 lab-confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom, nine of the B.1.351 variant, first found in South Africa, and one of the P.1 variant, initially discovered in Brazil.

However, more confirmed cases of the variants are expected in the coming days.

On Monday, Ontario’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said more than 14 per cent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ontario over the last week have screened positive for a variant of concern.

She said 16,495 specimens have screened positive for a variant and are awaiting full genomic sequencing to confirm their identity.

The province's COVID-19 science table has said the B.1.1.7 variant will likely be the dominant strain by March.

Most of the latest COVID-19 cases continue to be in hot spots within the Greater Toronto Area.

Provincial health officials said there were 343 new cases in Toronto, 186 in Peel Region and 89 in York Region.

Toronto and York saw a slight day-over-day increase in new infections, while Peel’s daily case count dipped compared to a day ago.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Halton Region logged 27 new infections and Durham Region recorded 35 new cases.

Of Ontario’s 34 public health units, only five are reporting 40 or more new infections.

One of those health units is Simcoe Muskoka which recorded 40 new cases, according to provincial health officials

However, the Simcoe Muskoka Health District logged a total of 144 new infections Monday afternoon, which was not accounted for in the province's latest data. 

Ontario labs processed 25,979 tests in the past 24-hour span, down from 31,163 on Monday.

It’s the smallest number of tests processed across Ontario since Nov. 3.

Nearly 29,000 tests are still under investigation.

According to the Ministry of Health, the province’s testing positivity rate has increased to 4.2 per cent, compared to 3.3 per cent a day ago.

COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province saw a slight day-over-day jump.

Provincial health officials said 718 people are in Ontario hospitals due to the disease, up from 646 on Monday. The Ministry of Health, however, did say yesterday that they expected a rise in hospitalizations as more than 10 per cent of hospitals did not submit data over the weekend.

The province's hospitalization count is lower than data provided by hospitals and health units across the province, which suggest that at least 875 people are hospitalized due to the disease.

Of those hospitalized, 283 are in intensive care units (ICU) and 186 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator, according to the Ministry of Health.

However, Dr. Kali Barrett, a critical care physician at Toronto's University Health Network, tweeted on Tuesday morning that there are 327 patients in ICUs and 200 on ventilators based on the latest data from Critical Care Services Ontario.

More than 247,000 vaccinations complete

As of 8 p.m. on Monday, 585,707 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the province.

To date, 247,042 people have been fully vaccinated in Ontario.

For full immunization, two doses of either the approved Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine need to be administered a few weeks apart.

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.