Ontario health officials reported 783 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and five new deaths, with a considerable increase in testing volumes over the past several days.

“Locally, there are 239 new cases in Toronto, 136 new cases in Peel, 127 in York Region and 89 in Ottawa,” Health Minister Christine Elliott wrote on Twitter. “There are 779 more resolved cases.”

Ontario reported 721 cases on Wednesday, 746 on Tuesday and 807 on Thanksgiving Monday.

She said provincial labs processed 39,961 test results in the past 24 hours, significantly more than the last several days when output was in the low 30,000 range.

The testing increase pushed the province’s positivity rate below two per cent for the first time in several days.

Another 36,300 test specimens remain under investigation.

The rate had stayed well below one per cent for much of the summer.

"What we're seeing is people who are coming with symptoms, people who are contacts of those who are positive and people who are in outbreaks," Dr. Dirk Huyer said during a briefing on Thursday afternoon. "We're finding therefore the testing is illustrating and capturing that."

Epidemiologist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy says there are vast regional and even neighbourhood-level disparities in positivity rates that illustrate the need to act and for people to follow all public health guidelines.

"There are higher-risk areas within the GTA that are as high as 8 to 10 per cent, so it’s already pretty alarming in some neighbourhoods and some communities."

There are now 5,883 remaining active cases of novel coronavirus infection in the province, with 3,022 centrally-confirmed deaths and 53,291 recoveries.

One of the five deaths reported Thursday was of a resident of a long-term care home.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Durham Region reported 40 more cases and Halton Region reported 28 new cases.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations continue to jump in delayed lockstep with the province’s increasing caseload.

A count of local public health unit data and hospitals showed 267 people were receiving treatment in hospital for COVID-19 symptoms on Thursday, higher than the 253 patients disclosed by the province.

Of those, at least 62 are in intensive care and 31 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.