Ontario reported more than 1,600 new COVID-19 cases and five more virus-related deaths on Saturday, marking the highest single-day case count in nearly seven months.

Provincial health officials logged 1,607 new coronavirus infections today, up from 1,453 on Friday and from 1,053 a week ago.

Today marks the highest daily tally since May 23 when 1,691 cases were reported.

The latest numbers continue an upward trend in case counts across the province for the past month. Earlier this week, Ontario recorded 928 new cases on Tuesday, 1,009 on Wednesday and 1,290 on Thursday.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases hit 1,194 today, a significant rise from 895 a week ago.

Among the latest cases, 864 of the individuals have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and are considered fully vaccinated, 623 are unvaccinated, 31 are partially vaccinated and have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 89 have an unknown vaccination status.

So far, over 85 per cent of Ontarians aged five and older have received one shot of a vaccine and 80 per cent have received two doses.

Residents under the age of five are not eligible for a vaccine in Ontario.

Another 786 people recovered from the virus yesterday, resulting in 10,009 active cases across the province, compared to 7,540 active cases a week ago.

The Ministry of Health reported today that five more people died with the disease in the past month, raising the province’s virus-related death toll to 10,070.

The public health units that reported the most new cases today include Toronto (247), Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (129), Ottawa (123), Peel Region (103), Windsor-Essex (99), Simcoe Muskoka (99) and York (96).

Ontario labs processed over 42,200 tests in the past 24 hours, resulting in a positivity rate of 4.6 per cent, compared to 3.5 per cent a week ago, according to the ministry.

There are currently 323 people with the virus in hospitals across the province and 146 are in intensive care units, the ministry says.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 121 of the ICU patients are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 25 are fully vaccinated.

To date, there have been 630,671 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 610,592 recoveries across the province since Jan. 2020.

Yesterday, the Ontario government announced that it will be extending booster shot eligibility to residents aged 18 and over as of Jan. 4. Residents must have received their second dose six months prior in order to get their third dose.

The move is part of the government’s plan to address the rise in COVID-19 cases in the past month, amid the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Ontario will also be making its digital or printed QR codes a mandatory part of its proof-of-vaccination system as of Jan. 4.

The Ontario Hospital Association released a statement on Saturday, saying they are preparing for an increase in COVID-19 patients in the upcoming weeks.

“Currently, hospitalization levels from COVID-19 are relatively stable. However, the system anticipates and is actively planning for a significant increase in the number of patients with COVID-related critical illness in intensive care units through December and into January,” OHA President Anthony Dale said in a statement.

“Hospitals in some communities are already coping with heavy pressures. In short, COVID-19 – and the Omicron variant in particular – represent a major threat to the hospital system.”

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released its latest modelling earlier this week that projects ICU admissions will increase by January, putting hospitals “under strain again.”

Dale encouraged all eligible residents to get their shot as “our strongest defence is vaccination.”

“Over the past two years, we have learned a great deal about what works in the fight against COVID-19. In addition to getting vaccinated as soon as possible, Ontarians must continue to take other steps to protect themselves and their communities,” Dale said.

“Hospital teams continue to do everything they can to care for and protect Ontarians. As the risk increases, they need all Ontarians – especially those who are not yet vaccinated – to do their part in return.”

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.