SUDBURY -- With COVID-19 cases increasing at an "alarming" pace, health officials in the Timmins area issued a plea Thursday for residents to follow emergency lockdown restrictions.

A joint message from the Porcupine Health Unit and seven area hospitals and health authorities said they can't fight the pandemic alone and need residents to do their part.

"We need the help of each and every one of our residents so that, together, we can open our schools for in-class learning and our businesses and protect our healthcare capacities and prevent further tragic outcomes," the statement said.

In the last three weeks, there have been 115 new COVID cases, including 42 that tested positive for the much more contagious COVID variants. Out of those cases, 996 high-risk contacts have been identified, or an average of 8.6 per case.

Several cases have been linked "to private social gatherings (e.g. get together with friends, parties) involving variants of concern," the statement said.

Cases have risen so quickly, the area would be under a lockdown even if the province-wide restrictions weren't already in place.

Police in Timmins have begun ticketing violators. Two people from Toronto were charged with breaking lockdown rules Wednesday, and three Timmins residents were charged April 17.

"We are very concerned about the impact of this surge on the health of our residents and on the healthcare and public health capacity in our area," the statement said. "We recognize how difficult this pandemic has been and how tired people are. But we can’t stop now. COVID-19 is circulating and there is community spread."

To get the situation under control, residents are being directed to:

  • Stay home, especially if you have symptoms.
  • If you have symptoms, get tested and stay home while waiting for results.
  • Limit your outings to essential purposes only (e.g. groceries, medication, medical care, vaccine). Have only one person from your household run errands if possible.
  • Maintain physical distancing from people who do not live with you.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often.
  • Cough and sneeze in your sleeve.
  • Work from home if possible.
  • Get vaccinated if you are eligible.

"The vaccine is a critical step forward in fighting this pandemic and protecting the health and safety of all communities," the statement said. "We strongly encourage everyone to get their vaccine when they are eligible."

Click here for information about the COVID-19 vaccines and upcoming clinics.

We would like to sincerely thank our community members for their ongoing commitment to reducing the risk. Please remember to be kind to one and other.