The province has confirmed that it will be making changes to the way it reports data on COVID-19 as public health measures ease and Ontario "begins to manage COVID-19 for the long-term."

Data released by provincial health officials today indicates that there are now 751 patients with COVID-19 who are receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals, down from 779 on Tuesday and 847 seven days ago.

This includes 241 COVID positive patients in intensive care, down from 273 last Wednesday.

According to the province, 46 per cent of COVID positive patients in hospital were admitted for the virus while 54 per cent were admitted for other reasons. In the ICU, 82 per cent were admitted for the virus, while 18 per cent were admitted for other reasons but tested positive for COVID-19.

Twenty-seven net new virus-related deaths were confirmed by the province today.

Another 1,947 cases were confirmed by provincial labs today, including 207 involving unvaccinated people and 1,579 involving people with at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The province says 36 cases today involved people who are partially vaccinated and 125 involved those with an unknown vaccination status.

It should be noted that case counts reported by the province each day are not an accurate reflection of the true burden of infection in Ontario due to significant limitations on who is eligible for testing.

With 17,571 tests processed over the past 24 hours, Ontario is reporting a positivity rate of 10.9 per cent, down from 11.8 per cent one week ago.

Officials confirmed Wednesday that changes to testing guidelines has resulted in some indicators "becoming less relevant," including the average reproductive number as well as outbreaks in non-high risk settings. Starting Friday, the province will no longer report the average reproductive number in Ontario.

The province will also be changing the way virus-related deaths are reported starting on March 11.

According to officials, deaths will now be broken down by "fatality type," including whether COVID was the cause of death, contributed to the death, or if the cause of death is unknown or missing.

Officials confirmed that it will be removing deaths from the cumulative total if it is determined that it was unrelated to COVID-19.

Deaths will also be categorized by vaccination status going forward.

Officials say some "key indicators," such as per cent positivity, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions, continue to be relevant indicators to report and inform the province's pandemic response.

The province said the Ministry of Health will be "examining when the frequency of reporting should change."

These changes come as the province continues to ease public health restrictions, including mask mandates in most public settings in less than two weeks.

Starting March 21, masks will no longer be required in restaurants, retail stores, and inside schools.

Masks still must be worn on public transit and in high-risk settings, including in hospitals and at long-term care facilities.

All mask mandates, as well as all emergency orders under the Reopening Ontario Act, will be lifted as of April 27, the province confirmed Wednesday.

Officials have said that high vaccination rates and the arrival of antiviral drugs in Ontario means that the province has the tools it needs to "manage the impact of this virus."

The province says it is moving toward a "longer-term approach" that will provide a more "balanced response" to the pandemic.

But some experts still say they believe it is too early to lift mask mandates at this time.

“Instead of seeing this plummet in cases, we’re actually seeing a plateau in cases and hospitalizations here in Ontario," Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist for Toronto General Hospital, told CP24 on Wednesday morning.

"This is the kind of thing where you want to see a sustained downward trajectory before you start to lift this final, light-touch intervention."