Ontario reported 170 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths on Thursday, the highest number of cases since late June, as detection efforts in the migrant farm worker population of Windsor-Essex continue to locate dozens of infections.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said that of the 170 new cases, 86 were from Windsor-Essex, which has become the focus of a major effort to isolate and treat migrant farm workers who become infected due to the close quarters of their work and accommodations.

“Ontario is reporting 170 new cases of COVID-19 today, 86 of which are in Windsor-Essex as targeted testing of temporary workers on farms to contain outbreaks has continued. In fact, 30 of Ontario’s 34 PHUs are reporting five or fewer cases, with 20 of them reporting no new cases,” Elliott wrote on Twitter.

The province reported 118 cases on Wednesday, 112 on Tuesday, 154 on Monday, 138 on Sunday and 121 new cases on Saturday.

Elliott said the provincial lab network turned around 26,000 test specimens in the past 24 hours, up from under 23,000 on Wednesday.

The tests completed represent a positivity rate of 0.65 per cent.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said that at least 76 of the 86 cases reported by Windsor-Essex were related to farm outbreaks.

"This is mostly an accumulation of an investigation on two or three farms – which are contained,” he said.

The increase in confirmed cases was barely edged out by the 172 patients who made full recoveries on Thursday.

Altogether, Ontario now has confirmed 36,348 infections since the outbreak began, with 31,977 recoveries, 2,703 deaths and 1,668 remaining active cases.

Apart from Windsor-Essex, Toronto reported 27 new cases, Peel Region reported 28 new cases and York Region reported 7.

There were 123 people in hospitals across the province on Thursday, the same as on Wednesday.

Of those, 31 were in intensive care beds, down from 35 on Wednesday.

Twenty-three were breathing with the help of a ventilator, down from 26 on Wednesday.