Ontario reported more than 4,100 COVID-19 hospitalizations today and 64 virus-related deaths as the province gets set to loosen restrictions at the end of the month.

There are currently 4,114 patients with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, up from 4,061 a day ago, according to the Ministry of Health.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 54 per cent of hospitalized patients were admitted for the virus and 46 per cent were admitted for other reasons but have tested positive for COVID-19.

Of those in hospital, 590 are in intensive care, down by four from yesterday, and 366 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Eighty-two per cent of ICU patients were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 and 18 per cent were admitted for other reasons but have tested positive, Elliott says.

Of the deaths reported today, 62 occurred in the past month and the other two occurred more than a month ago, the ministry says.

The virus-related death toll stands at 10,865.

Ontario labs processed 41,538 tests in the past 24 hours, producing a positivity rate of 17.7 per cent, down from 21.8 per cent a week ago.

The province logged 7,165 new coronavirus cases today, down from 7,757 new cases yesterday, but the case count is likely a significant underestimate due to testing restrictions.

Among the latest cases, 5,307 of the individuals are fully vaccinated, 1,061 are unvaccinated, 221 are partially vaccinated and 576 have an unknown vaccination status.

So far, 88 per cent of Ontarians five years and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 82 per cent have received two doses and 41 per cent have received three doses.

Premier Doug Ford announced yesterday that the province will loosen current pandemic restrictions in a gradual approach as public health trends are heading in the right direction.

As of Jan. 31., indoor-dining, gyms and cinemas will be allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Twenty-one days later on Feb. 21, the province will lift capacity limits in most indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required. And then on March 14, Ontario will lift virtually all remaining public health restrictions in all indoor settings.

Ford said these steps will be contingent on public health indicators.

“Now we want to be absolutely sure these positive trends continue as we move forward. And we want to do everything humanly possible to avoid having to go backwards. If that means pausing between steps for a few extra days, we won't hesitate to do so,” he said.

Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the plan is cautious and reasonable as there are signs that transmission of the virus is easing.

“When we look at all the metrics, they're actually getting better. I mean, we're seeing a leveling off and a plateauing of hospital admissions, leveling off and plateauing of ICU admissions. There's other arrows pointing in the direction that, you know, we might be beyond the peak of this curve and we might be on the downslope,” he told CP24 on Friday.

To date, there have been 984,359 lab-confirmed coronavirus infections and 898,589 recoveries since the pandemic began over two years ago.

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.