SUDBURY -- A day after the medical officer of health told reporters Sudbury should be in the red zone, Public Health Sudbury & Districts reported 18 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, marking 62 new cases in the last three days.

Six of the new cases are being screened for the much more contagious COVID variants, an emerging problem in northeastern Ontario where places such as North Bay remain in lockdown battling outbreaks linked to the variants.

Of the cases announced Wednesday, 17 are in Greater Sudbury, while one was reported in Sudbury district. Eight involved people under age 19, five between the ages of 20-39, three between the ages of 40-59, and two between the ages of 60-79.

The recent spike in cases would put the health unit in the red zone under the provincial COVID framework, Dr. Penny Sutcliffe said during a conference call Tuesday with reporters.

Sutcliffe said that decision will be made by the province, in consultation with Sudbury health officials and Ontario's medical officer of health. Such decisions are usually made Fridays, and take effect the following Monday.