TORONTO -- Premier Doug Ford says up to 60 pharmacies across Ontario will begin to offer COVID-19 tests starting Friday.

He says the initiative will reduce pressure on the province's 147 assessment centres, some of which have seen long line-ups in recent weeks.

The pharmacies will only test individuals with no symptoms after they have made an appointment.

Ford also says three Ontario hospitals will begin offering saliva testing as a less invasive testing option.

The testing initiative is the second part of the government's fall pandemic preparedness plan. The first piece involved purchasing millions of seasonal flu shots that the government is encouraging all residents to get.

Ontario reported 335 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, along with three new deaths related to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 102 cases reported in Toronto, 79 in Peel Region and 65 in Ottawa. She said 69 per cent of the new cases are in people under the age of 40.

The province is also reporting 42 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 21 among students.

Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 153 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools.

The total number of cases in Ontario now stands at 48,087, which includes 2,835 deaths and 41,600 cases classified as resolved.