‘We’re heading in the right direction,’ Ontario’s top doctor says as province reports lowest test positivity since Oct.

Ontario reported 370 more COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths on Thursday, as test positivity hit it lowest level since early Oct. 2020.

As a result, the seven-day rolling average of new cases fell to 443, down from 475 yesterday and nearly 700 one week ago.

Ontario reported 384 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, 296 on Tuesday and 447 on Monday.

Provincial labs processed more than 30,400 test specimens, generating a positivity rate of at least 1.3 per cent.

The last time test positivity was this low was Oct. 2, 2020.

The number of known active cases across Ontario fell to 4,390, down from 6,464 one week ago.

A total of 8,993 people have died of novel coronavirus infection since March 2020.

Another 527,927 people have recovered.

Across the GTA, Toronto reported 67 new cases on Thursday, Peel reported 47 new cases and York Region reported 27.

Elsewhere, Waterloo reported 57 new cases, Durham reported 13 cases, Halton reported nine new cases and Hamilton reported eight.

The declines in transmission prompted Ontario Premier Doug Ford to suggest Wednesday that the province could proceed to step two of its summer reopening plan ahead of schedule, which would allow hair salons and other personal care services to restart.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations continue a slow decline.

The Ministry of Health said there were a total of 397 people in hospital due to COVID-19 across Ontario, with 362 of those people in intensive care.

Of the ICU patients, 232 were breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Manitoba says 21 of its COVID-19 patients requiring ICU care are in Ontario hospitals.

On the surveillance front, provincial labs detected another 89 examples of the hyper-transmissible B.1.617+ Delta variant, bringing the total number of positive Delta cases found in Ontario since March 2021 to 586.

But a count of data provided by local public health units and hospital networks found at least 919 people in hospital on Thursday due to COVID-19.

On Wednesday, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Table said it was likely Delta had become the most prevalent strain in the province.

As COVID-19 metrics continue to decline gradually, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said the province is on the right path.

“We’re heading in the right direction, we’re moving along,” Williams said on Thursday afternoon. “Our goal is we want to move steadily down. We do not want a fourth wave, that’s the first priority.”

Williams said that the province is on track to enter Step 2 of it’s reopening plan at the end of the month.

Ontario entered Step 1 a week ago, allowing for patios and non-essential retail to open with capacity limits.

Step 2 would increase those capacity limits and allow personal care services, such as hair salons and barbers, to reopen.

“We continue to be cautious because the other thing we don’t want to do is to open and then close again. We did that before and that was very perplexing,” Williams said.

The province says it administered more than 210,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses on Wednesday, bringing the total number of shots administered to more than 11.9 million.

More than 2.37 million people have received two doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines.

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.

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