Ontario is reporting more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases as the province’s testing positivity rate dropped below three per cent on Wednesday.

Provincial health officials logged 1,052 new infections, up from 975 cases a day ago.

Tuesday was the first day in nearly a week where the daily case count was under 1,000.

The Ministry of Health reported 1,058 new cases of the novel coronavirus across the province on Monday, 1,087 on Sunday and 1,228 on Saturday.

The new seven-day rolling average now stands at 1,084, compared to 1,002 a week ago.

Ontario also recorded nine more deaths on Wednesday, raising the province’s virus-related death toll to 6,893.

Of the latest fatalities, two were among long-term care home residents.

According to the province’s latest epidemiological summary, 1,291 more people have recovered from the disease, resulting in 10,050 active cases across Ontario.

Most of the latest cases continue to be in hot spots within the Greater Toronto Area.

Provincial health officials logged 363 new infections in Toronto, 186 in Peel Region and 94 in York Region.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Halton Region recorded 26 new cases and Durham Region logged 35 new infections.

Provincial health officials also confirmed five more cases of the highly-contagious B.1.1.7 variant of concern, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.

To date, there have been 395 confirmed cases of B.1.1.7 in Ontario, nine confirmed cases of the B.1.351 variant, first found in South Africa, and only one case of the P.1 variant, first discovered in Brazil.

Officials, however, said that 14 per cent of all positive cases last week screened positive for a variant and are awaiting full genomic sequencing.

Ontario labs processed nearly 54,900 tests yesterday, more than double the 25,979 tests conducted the previous day.

More than 41,000 test specimens are still under investigation.

The rise in testing has contributed to a drop in the province’s positivity rate which now stands at 2.4 per cent, compared to 4.2 per cent a day ago, according to the Ministry of Health.

As new infections continue to slowly decline, COVID-19 hospitalizations saw a day-over day decrease.

Provincial health officials said there are 675 people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 infection, down from 718 on Tuesday.

However, according to data from hospitals and public health units across the province, 868 people are currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Of those sick in hospital, the Ministry of Health said 287 are in intensive care units (ICU) and 182 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

Critical Care Services Ontario (CCSO), however, said there were 332 people in ICUs across the province as of 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, according to documents obtained by CP24.

Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, tweeted about the CCSO’s latest data and compared ICU numbers at the beginning of the second wave to now.

“When Wave 2 started there were ~ 25 #COVID patients in Ontario ICUs. If we are starting Wave 3 with a baseline of > 300 patients and 35% of ICUs have <=2 free ventilated beds, any significant increase will put enormous strain on the system and worsen the non-COVID care deficit,” he tweeted Wednesday morning.

Since the disease first emerged in Jan. 2020, there have been more than 296,100 lab-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario and 279,230 recoveries.

Nearly 251,600 people fully vaccinated

Ontario has administered more than 602,800 COVID-19 vaccines as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

To date, 251,590 people have been fully vaccinated in the province.

Full immunization requires two doses of either the approved Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines administered a few weeks apart.

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.