WATERLOO -- Waterloo Region recorded 69 new COVID-19 cases Friday, with active infections growing to more than 400.

The new batch of cases, which come as the province enters Step 1 of its reopening plan, brings the region's cumulative caseload to 16,470, with 15,799 resolved and 405 active.

Since the pandemic began, 258 people in the region have died.

Health partners across the region have now completed 501,951 COVID-19 tests. The region's positivity rate spiked to 5.7 per cent, up from 4.9 per cent on Tuesday.

By comparison, the province-wide positivity rate is 2.0 per cent.

The reproductive rate of the disease in Waterloo Region increased from 1.0 on Tuesday to 1.2 on Friday – meaning the spread of the virus is increasing, not decreasing.

"We are concerned that our trends are not improving as they have in other communities in Ontario because of the Delta variant," Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Julie Emili said at the region's COVID-19 briefing on Friday morning.

Hospitalizations and intensive care admissions dipped slightly Friday. There are now 32 people receiving treatment in area hospitals for COVID-19, down from 34 on Thursday. Of those, 19 – four fewer than yesterday – are in the ICU.

There are four active outbreaks in the region.

Eight more cases were confirmed as variants of concern, bringing the total variant caseload to 3,411.

Another five cases were confirmed as the Delta variant, first discovered in India and initially known as B.1.617.

"All residents are advised that the Delta variant is circulating in our community," Dr. Emili said. "Like other variants, the Delta variant is more transmissible and may cause more severe illness."

Waterloo Region's variant breakdown is as follows:

  • 3,015 are the Alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom and originally known as B.1.1.7
  • Seven are Beta variant, originally detected in South Africa and previously referred as B.1.315
  • 60 are the Gamma variant, initially discovered in Brazil and labelled as P.1
  • 19 are the Delta variant, first found in India and previous called B.1.617

Meanwhile, health officials in the region administered another 6,717 COVID-19 vaccines Thursday. More than 70.6 per cent of adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 8.58 per cent of people 18 and older are fully vaccinated.

Across Ontario, 574 cases of the novel coronavirus were recorded on Friday, as well as four more deaths related to the disease.

The seven-day rolling average of daily cases in Ontario now stands at about 568, down from 889 the previous week.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario now stands at 538,651, including 8,935 deaths and 523,532 recoveries.

With files from CTV Toronto and CTV Kitchener's Katherine Hill.