With a recent jump in COVID-19 cases in November, the Renfrew County District Health Unit is urging people to keep their gatherings small as the holidays approach.

They say with 63 cases confirmed in the month of November, the Health Unit says over 500 high-risk contacts are being investigated. They say that this is an average of 8 contacts for each confirmed case. The numbers are double the amount reported in October, mostly reported around Pembroke, Petawawa and Laurentian Valley.

Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Cushman, says with the Omicron variant of the virus found in the neighbouring Ottawa region, decisions made now will impact how the holiday season will pan out. He is urging everyone to stay at home if sick, even if vaccinated, and to not ignore minor symptoms of COVID-19.

Despite the warning, there is still some good news: A recent outbreak at a field exercise at Garrison Petawawa has been mainly contained, with no community transmission as a result. Dr. Cushman says a major outbreak was avoided thanks to adhering to public health guidelines and timely case and contact management.