Ontario public health officials reported 483 new COVID-19 infections and 26 more deaths on Thursday, bringing the provincial total including recovered patients to 5,759.

Ontario has now confirmed 200 deaths due to COVID-19, along with 2,305 recovered patients.

It’s the single highest daily death count reported in the province since the outbreak began.

So far, 121 of the deaths involved people age 80 or above, while only one involved someone aged 20 to 39.

Thirteen people aged 40 to 59 have died of the virus, while 65 people aged 60 to 79 have succumbed due to infection.

Thursday’s increase is lower than Wednesday’s record increase of 550 cases and Tuesday’s which included 379 new infections.

Nearly half of all deaths in the province are attributed to outbreaks of the virus in 69 long-term care homes and 15 hospitals.

There were 632 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, with 264 of those in intensive care.

Two-hundred and sixty-four patients were breathing with the help of a ventilator.

More than 600 healthcare workers have contracted the virus since the outbreak reached Ontario in late January.

It appears Ontario’s network of laboratories are going to need more time to heed Premier Ford’s call to massively ramp up testing.

The labs turned around results for 4,091 people, with a further 1,208 under investigation, a far cry from the stated lab capacity of 13,000 results per day.

However, the Ministry of Health did announce widened testing criteria on Thursday morning, which will hopefully allow more tests to be conducted.

During his daily briefing, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams clarified who gets to be tested for the virus.

“There’s sometimes a bit of confusion here is that people feel that laboratory testing is for population-wide assessment all the time. That is not the case,” Williams said.

Williams said no sector in Canada does population-wide testing, adding that he has not seen a country, except South Korea, that attempted to screen everybody.

“Our goal is still to make sure all our testing is targeted at informing us of how to protect our vulnerable populations, how to keep our curve bending, how to keep the flattening of it, and to attempt to reduce any mortality and morbidity down from what the projections had shown in a rather dire prediction in the past and what we’ve seen in some of the other countries,” he said.

Williams said it is not hard to ramp up testing, but several problems could arise.

“We would quickly outstrip even the 13,000, and we’d lose out on our priorities, and we’d be back to the backlog issue yet again,” he said.

Williams said there are several priority areas like long-term care facilities and retirement homes where more intensive testing could be done.

“We will do it in such a way that we can maximize the benefit of looking at our priority groups in that area, as well as the ones that come in from assessment centers,” he said.

Williams said officials will be talking and planning how to proprely use the province's testing capacity.