Ontario is reporting nearly 2,700 new cases of COVID-19 today and 87 more deaths but the province is seeing some evidence that community transmission is slowing, as hospitalizations and active cases continue to decline and the positivity rate drops to its lowest level in over a month.

Provincial health officials are reporting 2,664 new cases of COVID-19 today, up slightly from the 2,632 reported on Thursday but down from 2,998 cases at this point last week.

With nearly 72,000 tests processed over the past 24 hours, Ontario is reporting a provincewide positivity rate of 3.3 per cent, the lowest it has been since Dec. 13.

The seven-day average of new infections also continues to decline. Over the past seven days, Ontario has seen an average of 2,703 new cases per day, down from 3,273 one week ago.

Hospitalizations have dropped for the fourth consecutive day. According to the latest data released by the province, there are now 1,512 people with COVID-19 receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals, down from 1,647 last week. Intensive care admissions have dipped from 388 on Thursday to 383 today, the Ministry of Health says.

The number of active cases in Ontario is also trending downward. There are now 25,263 active infections in the province, down from 28,825 last Friday.

Of the new cases reported today, 779 are in Toronto, 542 are in Peel, 228 are in York Region, 128 are in Waterloo and 118 are in Windsor-Essex County.

Ont. reports 43 more deaths among long-term care residents

The province is continuing to see a high number of virus-related fatalities each day, with another 87 deaths confirmed today. Of the deaths recorded today, 43 were among residents of long-term care homes in Ontario. Since the start of the pandemic, a total of 5,701 people in Ontario have died after becoming infected with COVID-19, including 3,350 long-term care residents.

On Thursday, officials confirmed that 122 of the 130 residents at Roberta House, a long-term care home in Barrie, have now tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, along with 74 staff members.

Officials also confirmed Thursday that a worker who had close contact with someone who travelled abroad was one of the first to be suspected of carrying a highly contagious coronavirus variant that is believed to be circulating in the facility.

Six variant cases have been confirmed at the home so far but public health officials have not yet been able to identify which variant they were infected with.

There are three known coronavirus variants that have sparked the most concern, including B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, 501Y.V2, first found in South Africa, and E484K, which was first located in Brazil.

"We have to watch this situation very carefully and we have to take it seriously," Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an epidemiologist and member of the province's COVID-19 vaccine task force, said of the variants.

"(They are) just more transmissible and certainly, it might be harder to get a community infection and community transmission under control."

He noted that while there is evidence that the vaccine is just as effective against the UK variant, the efficacy of the vaccine against the other two strains is not as clear.

"The answer actually is a little more murky," he said. "There was some evidence that says that yeah, the vaccine will likely work. The other evidence suggests that the vaccine may have reduced efficacy against those variants, which is problematic."

Numbers included in this story come from data reported in the province's daily epidemiologic summary released at 10:30 a.m.