Ontario is reporting fewer than 500 new COVID-19 cases for the first time in over eight months and 18 more deaths on Tuesday.

Provincial health officials logged 469 new coronavirus cases, the lowest daily total since September 26 when 435 infections were reported.

However, today’s numbers are underreported due to zero cases reported by York Region due to a data cleanup, according to the Ministry of Health.

On Monday, Ontario reported 525 new cases, while 663 were logged on Sunday and 744 on Saturday.

The seven-day rolling average now stands at 703, compared to 1,030 seven days ago.

The latest deaths bring the province’s virus-related death toll to 8,887.

Another 1,010 people recovered from the disease in the past 24 hours, resulting in 7,378 active cases across the province.

Ontario labs processed 17,579 tests yesterday, up from 15,177 tests the previous day.

The rise in testing contributed to a drop in the province’s positivity rate to 2.7 per cent, compared to 3.6 per cent on Monday, according to the ministry.

Another 1,040 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants were reported on Tuesday, with most being the Alpha variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom. These latest cases of variants, however, do not include the highly-contagious Delta variant which could be the dominant strain in parts of the Greater Toronto Area by next month.

In the GTA, Toronto logged 182 new cases on Tuesday, while 76 were reported in Peel Region, 30 in Durham Region and 24 in Halton Region.

The number of patients hospitalized with the virus increased slightly day-over-day as 621 patients are currently receiving treatment, compared to 547 the previous day.

Of those hospitalized, 481 are in intensive care units, including about 30 patients transferred to the province from Manitoba. The province says 305 patients are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

To date, more than 537,000 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 520,811 recoveries have been reported in the province since the first case emerged in Jan. 2020.

More than 10.2 million doses of vaccine have been administered across the province since mid-December 2020, with 158,209 shots into arms yesterday alone.

Over 1.1 million people in Ontario have been fully vaccinated against the disease. Two doses of approved vaccines currently administered in Ontario are needed for full immunization.

The latest numbers come after the provincial government announced Monday that Ontario will be entering Step 1 of its reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, allowing patios and non-essential retail to open up after months of being shuttered.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.