SUDBURY -- The Porcupine Health Unit reported 15 new COVID-19 cases Friday among residents in the health unit area.

The health unit said that the source of infections for 10 of the cases is under investigation, three are close contacts of a confirmed case and two are community exposures. All cases are in self-isolation.

The new cases come a day after the health unit and health authorities in the region issued an appeal to residents to follow emergency COVID restrictions to get the number of cases under control. There have now been 94 new infections since Sunday.

Of particular concern is the emergence of COVID variant strains, which are more contagious and make some people sicker than the original strain.

"COVID-19 continues to impact people of all ages, and across the province, we are seeing an increased number of adults, under the age of 60 years being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including in intensive care units," the health unit said.

"This is a reminder that serious illness can occur at any age and evidence indicates that variants of concern can be associated with more severe illness and increased risk of death."

The health unit is currently holding vaccination clinics for all individuals who are eligible in Phase 1, and certain groups that are currently eligible in Phase 2.

There are appointments available for Timmins, South Porcupine, Hearst, Kapuskasing, Iroquois Falls, Matheson, Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls and Moosonee. Visit the Porcupine Health Unit's vaccine page for information or to book an appointment.

The COVID-19 information line is open today from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 705-360-4819 or the toll-free number, 1-800-461-1818.

If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and complete the online COVID-19 Self-Assessment to determine your next steps.