SUDBURY -- North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit confirmed the first death related to COVID-19 in its service area Friday morning.

Health officials say a woman in her 50s has died in the last 24 hours due to the novel coronavirus, marking the eighth virus-related death in northeastern Ontario. 

Alex McDermid, the health unit's public relations specialist, has confirmed to CTV News that the woman had not previously been reported as a confirmed case before her death. This brings the total number of positive COVID-19 cases in the health unit's catchment area to 21.

As of Friday morning, the health unit only has two active cases listed for the districts, one being reported over the weekend as a woman between the ages of 40 - 59.

McDermid said the woman that has died is from the Parry Sound District and was exposed through community spread. It is unclear when the woman had been tested.

The health unit says it is "working collaboratively with the hospitals involved and community stakeholders on contact tracing activities to identify and follow-up with close contacts."

No other information is being shared out of respect for the family, according to a news release.

"We offer our sincere condolences to the individual’s family and friends and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time," said Dr. Jim Chirico, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit's medical officer of health. "This loss stresses the seriousness of the situation we are facing. We owe it to our loved ones, our friends, neighbours and the community as a whole to stay home as much as possible, physically distance when you need to go out for essentials, wear a facial covering when physical distancing is hard or unable to maintain while in public and follow public health measures."

Out of the 20 cases in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, 15 cases are in the Nipissing District and five are in the Parry Sound District. Eighteen of those cases have been resolved.

If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario's Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to seek further care. If you need further assistance, call your health care provider or the Health Unit at 1-800-563-2808. If you have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, you should call 911 and tell them your symptoms.