Ontario reported 554 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday and four new deaths, a welcome drop from Monday's record-setting high, with nearly half of all cases coming from Toronto.

"Locally, there are 251 new cases in Toronto with 106 in Ottawa, 79 in Peel and 43 in York Region," Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.

Ontario set a new single-day record high for cases with 700 on Monday. Officials disclosed 491 new infections on Sunday and 435 on Saturday.

Provincial labs processed 38,400 test specimens in the past 24 hours, less than the 41,111 processed earlier in the week.

Tuesday's results generated a positivity rate of 1.44 per cent, down from 1.7 per cent on Monday.

But lineups for tests have persisted across Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, with waits of four hours or more common in some places.

Premier Doug Ford answered concerns about the wait times by pointing to Health Canada's decision to approve buying new rapid testing equipment from Abbott Pharmaceuticals on Tuesday, calling the move a "game changer."

"People are going to be able to go to additional pharmacies and get answers within minutes instead of days," he said.

Health Canada must still evaluate the testing kits, which are said to be able to provide a result in 15 minutes, before they can be deployed in Ontario.

Deaths have remained in the low single digits throughout September, with some days seeing no deaths at all.

The public should prepare for that to change, UHN epidemiologist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said Tuesday.

"There's a lag time – by the time you start to see a rise in hospitalizations and a rise in deaths, it means that there is a lot of transmission in the community."

Hospitalizations across the province grew to 137 on Tuesday, up from 128 one day prior.

Of those, 30 patients are in intensive care and 16 people are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Public Health Ontario said that all four deaths reported on Tuesday were outside of the long-term care system.

There are now 4,791 active cases of novel coronavirus infection in the province, with 2,844 centrally-reported deaths and 43,450 recovered patients.

Eleven new outbreaks of COVID-19 were declared in long-term care and retirement homes across Ontario on Tuesday.

There are now 72 outbreaks active across the province.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Halton Region reported eight new cases while Durham Region reported 14 new cases.