SUDBURY -- Health officials in the Nipissing have confirmed the discovery of the South African variant of COVID-19.

The North Bay-Parry Sound District Health Unit has confirmed two new cases of a variant of concern, one of which is the B.1. 351 mutation.

"We must stay home and follow public health and safety guidelines. When trips outside the home are required, try to keep them as low-contact as possible, for your own protection and the protection of others," Dr. Jim Chirico, the medical officer of health, said in a news release. "We need to stop the spread of COVID-19 Variant of Concern, and if we don’t act now, it could be devastating for the entire district."

Officials confirm that these latest cases are not tied to the outbreak at the Skyline-Lancelot apartment building, which has seen 19 cases of a variant of concern since an outbreak was declared on Feb. 8.

There are now 20 confirmed COVID-19 cases of a variant of concern, 18 in the Nipissing District and two in the District of Parry Sound.

The new variants are said to be more transmissible than the original strain of the virus. The first case of the South African variant in Ontario was confirmed on Feb. 1.