Ontario is reporting more than 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 today as the seven-day average of new infections inches up week-over-week.

Ontario logged 1,138 new cases of COVID-19 today, up from 1,054 on Wednesday and 1,038 one week ago.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases now stands at 1,098, up from 1,016 at this point last week.

Another 23 virus-related deaths were confirmed in the province today and the seven-day average of new deaths has now increased to 25, up from 23 last week.

With more than 66,000 tests processed over the past 24 hours, the provincewide test positivity rate dropped to two per cent, the lowest positivity rate reported in the province since October. The rate, which is provided by the province each day, is down slightly from 2.2 per cent last Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Health, hospitalizations also appear to have declined this week. An estimated 687 people infected with COVID-19 are receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals compared to 758 one week ago. 

Numbers released by individual public health units suggests that there are actually 877 COVID-19 patients in hospital at the present time.

The number of patients in intensive care, however, has risen over the past seven days. The province says there are now 283 COVID-19 patients in the ICU compared to 277 last week.

A report from Critical Care Services Ontario released earlier this week put the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU at 332.

The number of active infections in Ontario is now 10,071, down from 10,072 one week ago.

Of the new cases confirmed today, 339 are in Toronto, 204 are in Peel Region, and 106 are in York Region.

Today the province confirmed another 54 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, the more transmissible COVID-19 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom.

While only 449 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been officially confirmed in the province through full genome sequencing, public health officials have estimated that about 14 per cent of all recent COVID-19 cases have screened positive for a variant of concern and the UK variant will likely become the dominant strain by March.

The chair of the Ford government's COVID-19 science table has warned that the variants of concern could trigger explosive case growth if public health restrictions are eased.

Over the past month, the province has reopened many businesses in most regions of the province, allowing gyms, casinos, barbershops, and movie theatres to reopen and restaurants to offer in-person dining once again.

Toronto, Peel Region, and the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit are the only regions of the province that continue to be under strict lockdown orders.

These regions are largely closed at the request of their own medical officers of health and local politicians, who have asked the province for tougher restrictions to help keep variants of concern at bay.

But Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who previously supported stricter lockdown measures, changed her tune on Wednesday, asking that the province place the city in the red zone of Ontario's reopening framework. In the red zone, all retail stores, gyms, and restaurants can reopen with reduced indoor capacity and smaller social gatherings are permitted. Other GTA regions, including York, Halton, and Durham, are currently in the red category of the reopening framework.

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.