Canada’s most populous province is reporting a surge in new cases of COVID-19 today, nearly half of them in Toronto.

Ontario reported 700 new cases of the novel coronavirus 344 in Toronto, 104 in Peel Region, 89 in Ottawa and 56 in York Region.

Big cities are also proving to be hot spots in Quebec, where new cases of COVID-19 have spiked in recent days.

The province’s health minister told Radio-Canada talk show “Tout le monde en parle” on Sunday that the situation in Montreal and Quebec City has grown alarming.

Christian Dube said both cities would soon enter the maximum-alert red level under the province’s COVID-19 colour-coded system.

Quebec province reported 896 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, its highest single-day jump in months.

Premier Francois Legault has called a news conference for this afternoon.

Ontario and Quebec have been the hardest hit by COVID-19, representing close to 80 per cent of all cases in Canada.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pleaded with the public to respect public health guidelines, as Canada’s top doctor said the country is “at a crossroads” when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government also warned last week that short-term lockdowns may be necessary to prevent small clusters of cases from turning into large outbreaks.

The Canadian Press