Ontario reported 821 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and three new deaths, on a drastically lower amount of processed tests, sending the provincewide positivity rate well above three per cent.
The new cases were detected on 24,000 tests, less than half of the province’s target for testing announced last month and below one third of what the province agreed to eventually reach under the federal Safe Restart Agreement.
As a result, the positivity rate was 3.42 per cent. Provincial labs processed 31,864 specimens on Monday.
In moving four regions of the province back into a modified Stage 2 of reopening this month, Premier Doug Ford and other officials have cited a marker where they move to enact measures whenever a region of the province reaches a test positivity rate of 2.5 per cent or greater.
The province as a whole exceeded that on Tuesday, with the lowest number of tests processed since sometime in early September.
Premier Doug Ford explained the low numbers Tuesday afternoon by saying that fewer people are seeking tests, now that most of the testing apparatus is appointment-only.
“We’re geared up, we have the capacity now to do up to 50,000 and people aren’t coming in,” Ford said. “Right now we can’t force people to come in for a test.”
Toronto and Peel continued to lead the case count on Tuesday.
“Locally, there are 327 new cases in Toronto, 136 in Peel, 64 in York Region and 79 in Ottawa,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter. “There are 628 more resolved cases.”
Ontario reported 704 cases on Monday, 648 on Sunday and 805 on Saturday.
In the past seven days, there have been 45 deaths across Ontario attributed to novel coronavirus infection.
The number of active cases of novel coronavirus infection in the province hit 6,237 on Tuesday, with 3,053 deaths and 56,606 recoveries since the pandemic began in March.
There were 5,884 active cases of infection in the province one week ago.
Elsewhere in the GTA, Halton Region reported 46 new cases, Durham Region reported 32 cases and Hamilton reported 36.
None of the deaths reported on Tuesday occurred in the long-term care system, Public Health Ontario said.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s hospitalization numbers continue to rise.
There were at least 274 people in hospital for treatment of COVID-19 symptoms on Tuesday, with 72 in intensive care and 45 breathing with the help of a ventilator.