SUDBURY -- CTV News has learned that Health Sciences North (HSN) and North Bay Regional Health Centre have received COVID-19 patient transfers from intensive care units (ICU) in southern Ontario Wednesday.

One patient was expected to arrive in North Bay on an Ornge helicopter around the noon hour. Meanwhile, two COVID-19 patients were admitted to Sudbury's hospital with more patients expected to be transferred in the coming days.

North Bay hospital officials said on Tuesday the facility can safely provide care to 16 critical care patients.

Jason Turnbull, a spokesperson for HSN, told CTV News the Sudbury ICU can care for up to 92 critical care patients in an extreme situation, including 65 COVID-19-positive patients in isolation. He also said the Sudbury hospital can deploy up to 60 ventilators if needed.

In a news release Wednesday afternoon, HSN said currently only 73 of the 144 ICU beds in northern Ontario are occupied.

This comes as Ontario is experiencing a record-high number of people being hospitalized in intensive care units (ICUs). 

Of the 2,350 people that are currently in hospital in Ontario due to COVID-19, 806 are in ICUs and 588 are on ventilators, the province said on Thursday. There are three regions in Ontario that are considered "hot spots" with the most cases: Toronto, Peel and York regions.

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit said that as of Wednesday there is currently only one Nipissing District resident that is in hospital due to COVID-19. There are currently 12 active COVID-19 cases in the health unit's service area and there have been four COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday, the Sudbury hospital had 21 COVID-positive patients, including eight in the ICU. There are 149 active COVID-19 infections in the Sudbury District, most of which reside in the City of Greater Sudbury. Within the Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts there have been 35 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began.

"Hospitals in Ontario have been ramping down clinical services in the last few weeks either because of COVID-19 outbreaks, over-occupancy or the need to redeploy human resources to repurpose acute care beds into critical care beds," HSN said. "This week all Ontario hospitals received an updated provincial directive on non-urgent surgeries and procedures."

Both hospitals said patients do not need to call the hospital to check on the status of an appointment or procedure at this time. Patients will be notified directly if there are any changes.