Ontario reported 159 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, along with 10 additional deaths, as the province reopened indoor dining and fitness activity for the first time in months.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases stood at 151 on Friday, down from 155 on Thursday.

Ontario reported 143 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, 153 on Wednesday and 146 on Tuesday.

Provincial labs processed more than 28,000 test specimens, generating a positivity rate of at least 0.6 per cent.

The known active caseload throughout the province fell to 1,403; the lowest that number has been since Sept. 6, 2020.

A total of 9,285 people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario since March 2020, while more than 537,000 others have recovered.

Across the GTA, Toronto reported 23 new cases, York Region reported none, Durham Region reported eight and Peel reported 12.

Halton Region reported seven new cases and Hamilton reported nine.

The province moved into Step 3 on Friday morning, allowing things like indoor dining, fitness activity and movie theatre operations for the first time in months.

UHN infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the public should understand the likelihood that cases, which have fallen to 10-month lows in recent days, will creep up because of the newly permitted indoor activities.

“As you put more and more people indoors, occasionally without masks, occasionally without distancing, occasionally in crowded indoor settings, it should come to no one’s surprise that we will see an increase in cases,” he told CP24.

He said this increase in infection will be concentrated in those who have not yet been vaccinated, and greater effort must be made to reach eligible people who haven’t yet received a shot.

“You don’t need a crystal ball to see what’s coming as we move forward,” he said. “And we can’t get surprised that predominately the unvaccinated will still get infected.”

The Ministry of Health said there were 159 people in hospital intensive care beds due to COVID-19 on Friday, down from 168 on Thursday. A month ago, there were 377 people in the ICU due to COVID-19.

One-hundred and twelve people are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Local public health units and hospital networks said Friday they were caring for a total of 192 COVID-19 patients across both acute and intensive care wards throughout provincial hospitals.

It's the lowest level the overall hospital burden due to COVID-19 has been in Ontario since Oct. 6, 2020.

Provincial labs detected 14 new examples of the highly-transmissible Delta variant on Friday, bringing the total number of cases detected through whole genomic sequencing to 3,150 since late April.

On the vaccination front, another 168,000 shots were administered on Thursday.

More than 10 million people have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine in the province and 7.57 million have received two doses.

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.