Ontario continued to report high numbers of COVID-19 cases and unprocessed tests on Sunday, though both figures had declined slightly from levels seen in recent days.
The province's latest data showed 566 new cases of the novel coronavirus and seven more deaths from the illness on Sunday. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the latest tallies, like the higher figures recorded over the two previous days, included older cases in Toronto that are only coming to light now as the result of a data review at the local public health unit.
Sunday's data also showed the province continues to work its way through a major backlog of administered COVID-19 tests. The figure that stood at more than 91,000 earlier in the weekend had declined to nearly 79,000 a day later.
Elliott said the latest figures show Ontario's three primary virus hot spots remain unchanged. She said 196 of the new cases were found in Toronto, 123 are in Peel and 81 are in Ottawa.
Sunday marked the seventh day in a row that Ontario reported more than 500 cases of COVID-19, as the province deals with its second wave of the illness and implements tighter public health rules on hard-hit regions. Stricter limits on restaurants, bars and fitness facilities took effect in the three main hot spots on Saturday in a bid to halt the surging case numbers in those regions.
The province has announced other measures aimed at addressing the testing backlog, all of which take effect this week.
Walk-in testing came to an end on Sunday ahead of a wholesale revamp of the provincial approach to COVID-19 assessment. Starting on Tuesday, virus testing at most provincial centres will take place by appointment only.
The government has previously said only those in key priority groups, including people with symptoms, those who have been exposed to a known case and workers in high-risk settings, should seek a COVID-19 test.
At least 60 pharmacies across the province are offering evaluation for asymptomatic people, also by appointment.
There are now 54,199 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, including 2,975 deaths and 45,819 resolved cases.
The figures show 5,405 of those cases are currently active, including 169 people who are hospitalized with the illness.
On Sunday, 78,953 tests were still listed "under investigation" in the province, while 39,661 tests had been completed over the previous 24 hours.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2020.
Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press