Leadership with the Northwestern Health Unit is warning residents across the region to continue following public health advice and Ontario’s stay-at-home orders, as staff have reported an increase in COVID-19 cases involving variants of concern locally.

During a virtual conference with regional media members, Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, explained the recent increase.

“We are seeing an increasing number of variants in our catchment area. It’s primarily in the Kenora health hub and the Dryden health hub where we’ve seen the most number of variants of concern. We’ve also seen a few cases in the Sioux Lookout health hub.”

Young Hoon notes all positive COVID-19 test results are sent for provincial testing to be examined for any variants of concern.

“There’s always a delay in getting those results by a few days. Having said that, all cases are managed as if they are variants of concern. There are a lot of restrictions put in place to prevent spread early-on as soon as possible.”

The NWHU urges the public to take prevention measures seriously, especially with variants of concern in the region. Staff are asking the public to only leave their homes for essential reasons like work, healthcare or exercise.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or who has been in contact with a positive case of the virus should immediately self-isolate, get tested and remain in isolation until your test results are known.