SUDBURY -- The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit reported three new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the area's total to six new cases in the last two days and nine since Nov. 30.

Because of the recent surge of infections, the health unit said it is closely monitoring the data to determine whether the area should move from the green/protect designation under the provincial framework.

In the latest cases, two people are from the Parry Sound area, and the third from Nipissing. Two of the cases involve individuals between the ages of 20-39, while the third age 19 or younger.

In two of the cases, infection was the result of close contact with a confirmed case, while the third is not known. There are now three active cases in Nipissing, six in Parry Sound.

The public will be notified if there is a change in the designation for the area.

Collective decision

"Any change to this will be publicly communicated," the health unit said in a news release. "Using the indicators and thresholds in the COVID-19 Response Framework, the Ministry of Health adjusts the response level for health units when required. When there is a change in the trend, up or down, they connect with the local medical officer of health to discuss the situation, and a collective decision is made regarding the appropriate level."

Local medical officers of health can ask the Ministry to increase the response level for their district based on the local situation, and can also add their own restrictions or requirements within their district.

“The Health Unit has seen a rise in cases since mid-October in our district,” Dr. Jim Chirico, medical officer of health, said in the release. “We must act now to prevent further spread of COVID-19, and help protect our vulnerable populations, preserve our vital hospital resources and prevent lockdowns.”

The restrictions imposed by the province represent the minimum measures required in the district. They decrease, but do not prevent the spread of COVID-19. That is why the Health Unit urges everyone to:

- Avoid socializing for now.

- Limit travel outside the home to attending school or work if unable to work from home, and essential trips for groceries, medication and medical appointments.

- Assume everyone has COVID-19 outside your home and take precautions.

- Keep a distance of two metres between yourself and anyone outside of your home. However, if you live alone, you may consider having close contact with another household.

- Wear a face covering if you need to be closer than two metres from someone outside your home during essential trips. Being in close contact to someone has the highest risk of transmitting COVID-19, along with being in closed or crowded spaces.

- Wash or sanitize your hands often, cough or sneeze into your sleeve and if you feel unwell stay home and arrange to be tested.

- Limit exercise and recreation to outdoor spaces where physical distancing is possible.

- Avoid travel outside of our district, especially to areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, unless for emergencies or urgent medical appointments.

For more information on COVID-19 click here or call the Health Unit’s call centre 1-800-563-2808, option 5, for general inquiries and option 6 for school related inquiries.