Ontario reported 1,478 new positive tests for COVID-19 on Thursday along with 21 new deaths, as the overall positivity rate declined and hospitalizations reached their highest point so far in the second wave.

“Locally, there are 572 new cases in Peel, 356 in Toronto and 111 in York Region,” Health Minister Christine Elliott wrote on Twitter.

The case count in Peel Region on Thursday is the highest daily count of cases in that area since the start of the second wave.

Ontario reported 1,373 new cases and 35 deaths on Wednesday.

The provincial lab network processed 47,576 specimens in 24 hours, up 11,000 from the previous period, generating an overall positivity rate when duplicates and errors are accounted for of 3.9 per cent.

That’s the lowest test positivity rate Ontario has seen since Nov. 20.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases rose to 1,427 from 1,388 yesterday.

There are now 12,871 active cases of novel coronavirus across the province, up 92 from yesterday.

At this point last week, there were 12,628 active cases.

More than 3,500 people have died from the virus since March, including 132 in the past week.

Fourteen of the deaths reported on Thursday involved residents of long-term care homes. One death involved a person aged 20 to 39, but Public Health Ontario declined to provide further details.

Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said it is likely that the lockdown implemented in Toronto and Peel Region has kept case growth at bay, but more action may be necessary.

“We’re sort of getting between that 1,200 to 1,400 new cases per day range – that’s not a good place to be. Obviously the first step is to prevent that from rising. We don’t want to see any exponential growth here.”

“I imagine we’ll probably see numbers similar to what we see now, if we really continue to reduce our contacts we’ll probably at least be able to plateau and flatten out the curve a little bit.”

As of Thursday, there were 556 people being treated for COVID-19 symptoms in Ontario hospitals, up 33 from the day before.

Of those, 151 were in intensive care and 105 were breathing with the help of a ventilator.

It’s the highest hospitalized caseload Ontario has seen since the end of the first wave in late spring.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Durham Region reported 47 new cases, Halton Region reported 36 new cases and Hamilton reported 59 new cases.