SUDBURY -- The Ontario government is moving the Timiskaming Health Unit to the Red-Control level of the COVID-19 response framework on Friday.

The decision was made at the request of the local medical officer of health due to the concerning trends in public health indicators in the region.

"As a result of a rapid worsening in trends of key health indicators in the Timiskaming region, we are making the difficult but necessary decision to immediately move the region to a new level with stronger public health measures in place," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "Our government will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect the health and well-being of all individuals, families and their communities."

The Timiskaming Health Unit is being moved from its current level in the Framework to the Red-Control level effective Friday, March 26, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

From March 16 to 22, 2021, the region's case rate increased from 3.1 to 24.5 cases per 100,000 people, an increase of 700 per cent. The public health unit also reports that additional cases are expected over the next few days.

"Through discussions with the local medical officer of health and local authorities on the current situation in the Timiskaming area, it was decided immediate action was needed to help ensure the continued health and safety of people in the region and minimize further transmission," said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. "As we fight this third wave of COVID-19, everyone is strongly urged to continue following all public health measures and advice and stay home as much as possible to help save lives."