Ontario reported 966 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday along with 11 more deaths, extending a slow downward trend in new cases to five days, albeit on significantly lower testing volume.

“Locally, there are 253 new cases in Toronto, 223 in Peel and 99 in York Region,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.

Ontario reported 1,023 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, 1,062 on Sunday and 1,185 on Saturday, and a recent high 1.258 new cases on Friday.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases now stands at 1,098, down one from yesterday.

Provincial labs processed more than 31,000 specimens in the past 24 hours, generating a positivity rate of at least 2.9 per cent.

Officials in several public health units said average daily testing volumes will be considerably lower in the province as surveillance in the long-term care system is now done using rapid tests, with full PCR testing only brought in to confirm positive results.

There are now 10,546 active, lab-confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection across the province, down by 24 from Monday.

It’s the first decline in active caseload across Ontario in six days.

Two of the eleven deaths reported on Tuesday involved residents of the long-term care system.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Durham Region reported 34 new cases, Halton Region reported 32 new cases, and Hamilton reported 23 cases.

Hospitalizations increased in the past 24 hours, according to Ministry of Health data.

They said there were 677 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Tuesday, up by 22 from Monday.

Of those, 284 were in intensive care, and 189 were breathing with the help of a ventilator.

But a Toronto doctor citing Critical Care Services Ontario data said the intensive care burden due to COVID-19 is markedly higher than what the Ministry of Health says.

A count of data from local public health units and hospital networks found 880 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Seven new cases of the primary variant of concern circulating in Ontario, B.1.1.7, were confirmed through whole genomic sequencing by Public Health Ontario in the past 24 hours.

There are now 542 cases of the more highly infectious B.1.1.7 variant confirmed in the province, along with 27 cases of B.1.351 and 3 cases of the P.1 variant.

But public health units across the province say there are more than 2,300 samples that have screened positive for a variant of concern that have not yet been sequenced.

A further 22,300 people received a dose of an approved coronavirus vaccine in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of shots administered in Ontario to 727,021.

More than 264,800 people have completed their full two-dose inoculation.

Yesterday, provincial officials said they were entertaining the idea of spacing out first doses from second doses by up to four months, in a bid to cover as many people as possible with some level of immunity.

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.