BARRIE, ONT. -- Public health officials with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) grow increasingly concerned after three additional COVID-19 U.K. variant cases are confirmed, bringing the total number to 10.

An outbreak at a Bradford long-term care home has fewer than 20 cases, but according to Dr. Colin Lee, Simcoe Muskoka's associate medical officer of health, there's a reason for concern.

"Two staff members have been confirmed to [have] the U.K. variant," he said Friday.

Lee added that five residents at Bradford Valley Care Community passed a screening for the highly transmissible variant. While they will require a second test before it's confirmed, Lee said the Bradford outbreak "as far as we can see, has the variant going through the home."

The health unit is checking samples from another 110 COVID-positive tests for the U.K. B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant.

The region's associate officer of health urged the community to follow safety measures as the new variant has proven to be more contagious.

"Everyone needs to, again, stay at home."

On Friday, the health unit posted 65 new COVID-19 cases, plus another death, a woman at Roberta Place, bringing the region's death toll to 139.

The variant was first detected at the Barrie long-term care home after a staff member came in close contact with someone who became sick after a recent trip.

Since then, the virus has claimed 51 lives at Roberta Place and infected all but one resident and 83 staff members.

"The problem is this very stealthy variant is 50 per cent more contagious. It's able to find little holes in our armour, so we have to be just that much more vigilant," Lee added.

Lee said two of the U.K. variant cases remain a mystery. "We don't know where they got it from." Still, he noted that it's somewhat encouraging that there are just two unknown cases.

Despite the grim numbers, Lee remains optimistic. "We have a fighting chance to slow this down and certainly, believe in miracles, and maybe, we might be able to contain it further."