Ontario reported 827 more cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, while the province’s labs processed fewer than 24,000 tests.
Toronto saw 355 new cases, while Peel Region recorded 169 and York Region 89.
The seven-day average of new daily cases, a measure that limits noise in the data and provides a clearer picture of longer-term trends, increased just slightly, up to about 879, another record high.
While it went up, the rate of the increase slowed considerably when compared with the previous five days.
As for testing levels, Ontario currently has laboratory capacity for about 45,000 tests daily. Fewer than 30,000 tests were completed on each of the last two days.
The relatively low number of tests has pushed the provincewide positivity rate to about 3.45 per cent, also a new high. Provincial health officials have previously said that a 2.5 per cent positivity rate is reason for serious concern.
Meanwhile, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed above 300 for the first time during the resurgence of the illness that began in early August and continues today. More than 1,000 were hospitalized during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.
Of 312 people currently in hospital, 75 are being treated in intensive care and 52 are on ventilators.
The province is also reporting 691 more resolved cases, and an additional four deaths, bringing the total death toll to 3,103.
Large gatherings blamed
The new case numbers come after a record-breaking weekend and seven-day average, which health officials said was partially to blame on Thanksgiving and other large gatherings.
Experts and officials have been warning about “pandemic fatigue” for months, in which people who are sick of following the rules embrace riskier behaviour in order to see friends and family or do beloved activities.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, told CBC on Tuesday that with a long winter ahead, it remains a major concern.
What’s needed, he said, is “messaging of how you can create safer spaces so people can do the things that they like to do, stay physically active, connect with others, enjoy themselves.”
North York General Hospital outbreak
Another Toronto hospital has declared a COVID-19 outbreak after two staff members in its surgical program tested positive for the virus.
North York General Hospital says both cases appear to be linked, and it will postpone non-emergency surgeries for the time being to limit the risk of infection.
The hospital says there are no patient cases connected to the outbreak so far.
Several other hospitals have been dealing with outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, which are generally defined as at least two health-care-related cases within a 14-day period.