The Renfrew County and District Health Unit said Friday that over the past week nine residents from the eastern Ontario town of Arnprior and five more people from the nearby township of McNab/Braeside all have confirmed cases of COVID-19 in connection with a recent social gathering.
While not everyone who tested positive in the past week attended the meetup, others were close contacts of attendees.
A further 37 people are now considered high-risk contacts, the health unit added, and six local businesses in the region have been affected.
All individuals involved have been instructed to self-isolate until assessed by the local contact tracing unit.
Dr. Robert Cushman, acting medical officer of health in Renfrew County, said in a statement that further testing could lead to more cases tied to the gathering.
Renfrew County was among the earliest regions in Ontario to move out of the province-wide lockdown and has been in the green-prevent zone of the colour-coded reopening framework since early February.
But Cushman said that status is at risk if residents continue to gather socially.
“(Our region) has been classified as a green zone for weeks now, which will likely change if cases continue to rise. Businesses are finally getting the chance to open again, to employ their workers, and to serve their customers’ delayed needs. The last thing we want to do is to jeopardize our status and clamp down yet again on the economy, or possibly implement more stringent rules in the Arnprior area,” Cushman said.
His counterpart in nearby Ottawa, Dr. Vera Etches, also said earlier this week that Ottawa is in danger of more stringent restrictions if residents let their guards down.
She pointed to carpooling and congregating before, after or during lunch breaks at work as areas of concern that Ottawans should avoid.