SUDBURY -- Another tragedy has struck the COVID-19 outbreak at Sudbury's Amberwood Suites retirement home, public health officials announced late Thursday night that a fifth person has died.

"Out of respect during this difficult time, no further details will be provided," Public Health Sudbury & Districts said in a news release. "Public Health Sudbury & Districts offers sincere condolences to the family, friends, and caregivers affected by this loss."

An outbreak at the retirement home was declared on Jan. 5 after one resident tested positive for the disease. There have been 38 cases of COVID-19 associated with this outbreak, 33 residents and five staff members, and five fatalities.

The first COVID-related death connected to the outbreak happened a week ago on Jan. 15, the city's first since May 1. A total of seven COVID-related deaths have now been reported in the Sudbury area since the pandemic began.

In response to the most recent fatality, Amberwood Suites issued a statement on Friday morning:

"We are sorry to confirm a fifth resident has died due to COVID-19. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family. These losses have been incredibly difficult for the staff and residents at Amberwood Suites.

We continue to work with our community health partners to monitor COVID-positive residents and manage the outbreak. Our fight to keep residents comfortable and healthy and to stop the spread of COVID continues to be our priority."

As of Thursday at 4 p.m., there were 70 active cases of COVID-19 in the Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts. Since Christmas Eve, there have been 160 new infections confirmed, an increase of 38 per cent, and 93 cases have been recorded as resolved. Public health officials said the recent surge is caused by gatherings over the holidays.

Of notable concern is the rise in COVID-related hospitalizations. As of noon on Thursday, there were nine patients with an active infection at Health Sciences North and another three awaiting results of testing.