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A privately-run COVID-19 testing site is seen at a shopping mall in Toronto on Dec. 31, 2021.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Public Health Ontario says the province has reached a new daily record for new COVID-19 cases, but warns the true number of people infected with the virus is likely higher.

The organization is reporting 18,445 more COVID-19 cases today, up from the previous record set just a day earlier when there were 16,713 infections reported.

It says the number of infected Ontarians is an underestimate because recent policy changes have made COVID-19 testing less accessible just as cases linked to the Omicron variant are soaring.

Public Health Ontario is also reporting 12 new virus-related deaths.

The latest figures come days after the province significantly curtailed who is eligible for government-funded COVID-19 testing and come a week after many gathered for Christmas celebrations.

While the Ministry of Health typically releases daily COVID-19 data for the province, it does not publish new figures on holidays like New Year’s Day.