SUDBURY -- A second person has died as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Skyline-Lancelot apartment building in North Bay.

The person had tested positive for the COVID-19 variant, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit said in a news release Tuesday.

“I am deeply saddened by this news. My thoughts are with the individual’s family and friends,” Dr. Jim Chirico, medical officer of health, said in a news release. “I cannot imagine what the families and friends of these individuals are going through. While we are all very fatigued with continued public health measures, we must work together as a district to help prevent this from happening to anyone else. I cannot stress this enough: stay home and save a life.”

The health unit said the district is experiencing an increase in COVID variants, which is particularly concerning since the variants spread more easily than the original coronavirus.

"The best way for individuals to protect themselves against all strains of COVID-19 is to continue taking all COVID-19 precautions seriously and to continue with these measures even once they have received the COVID-19 vaccine," the release said.

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit remains under stay-at-home orders, while most of the province has been allowed to reopen. The health unit tested many building residents on-site and of the 31 cases identified, 25 involved people who live there full-time while six are part-time residents or visitors.

The variant has been detected in 20 COVID-19 cases connected to the apartment complex, but only one strain has been identified so far.

“If we don’t continue precautions and follow public health measures to prevent a surge of COVID-19 variants of concern then measures such as prolonged lockdowns or school closures could be required, which can have profound harmful effects on children and youth and people experiencing poor mental health, violence or addictions,” Chirico said.