BARRIE -- The region has nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to the health unit, for a total of 71 cases.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner says a total of 17 people have recovered, including one Barrie man who had been on life support in the hospital.

The health unit reports 10 people are hospitalized in Simcoe Muskoka, and four people have died of the virus.

Dr. Gardner says the number of community-acquired cases has jumped to 19, expressing concern that with Easter weekend approaching, the public needs to stay home.

He stressed the importance of avoiding get-togethers at this time, including family dinners of five people or less, with the exception of those in your household.

"We need to be connected from a distance," he explains. "You could become a case through contact with those individuals. It's very important to realize transmission is happening in our community, and you don't know who is a case."

Ontario has 401 more COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 16 deaths.

Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon has had two more deaths, bringing the total to 16, with 24 infected staff members.

The province now has 2,793 cases of the virus, including 831 people that have recovered.