Ontario is reporting fewer than 500 new cases of COVID-19 and the province’s top public health official is predicting that we may see daily case drops below 400 in the coming days.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams made the comment during a briefing on Monday, just hours after the Ministry of Health reported 447 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The new rolling seven-day average now stands at 503, which is the lowest that number has been since Sept. 29.

“The situation in Ontario is one of optimism,” Williams said. “Our numbers continue to move in the right direction. Our ICU numbers are moving below 400, our case counts are dropping down, we may even see in the next day or so, numbers below 400 and that is really exciting. Our reproductive number is also down to .72. That is really amazing because that means we are reducing day after day.”

Ontario’s case numbers have been steadily declining for months now and though there are fears that the Delta variant first detected in India could fuel a fourth wave, Ontario’s science table co-chair Dr. Adalsteinn Brown did say last week that such a scenario was “highly unlikely” given the pace of the province’s vaccine rollout.

The latest cases reported on Mondy came as the province’s labs processed just 13,588 tests, which is the lowest number in any single 24-hour period in more than a year (May 26, 2020).

About 2.8 per cent of tests came back positive.

That marks an increase on the seven-day average of 2.3 per cent but is roughly in line with the positivity rate at this time last week when weekend testing volumes were also low.

Meanwhile, the situation in Ontario’s hospitals continues to improve.

As of Sunday, there were 409 people with COVID-19 receiving treatment in intensive care units. That is down from a peak of 900 last month. At least 20 ICU beds are filled with COVID-19 patients transferred from Manitoba.

It should be noted that public health officials have said in the past the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care will have to be around 200 before most hospitals are able to return to something approaching normal operations.

“As you can see now case numbers are crumbling including the Delta variant,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 on Monday, prior to the release of the latest numbers. “Even though the Delta variant is spreading and taking over as a more dominant variant it is still also fair to say that its numbers are going down. Will that be the case moving forward? I don’t know but currently that is what is happening.”

Peel and Halton report lowest numbers since September

Of the latest cases, 110 were in Toronto, 61 were in Peel, 11 were in York, nine were in Halton and 29 were in Durham.

In the case of both Halton and Peel it is the lowest number reported in any single 24-hour period since September.

There have been a total of 540,130 lab-confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, as well as 8,961 deaths.

The number of active cases provincewide currently stands at 5,374.