BARRIE -- An Orillia woman in her 70s is the region's third COVID-19-related death, according to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU).

Health officials say the woman is one of six people that they believe contracted the virus through community spread right here at home.

The health unit announced eight new cases on Thursday, totalling 29 lab-confirmed cases of the virus to date.

One new case has been identified in Grey Bruce and more than 30 in York Region as of today.

Two men, both in their 70s, died with the virus at Barrie's Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre earlier this month.

Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU's Medical Officer of Health, says all three people who died of the virus in our region had pre-existing medical conditions and passed within days of becoming infected.

Three of the eight new cases today are men who travelled to Austria, Switzerland, Dubai and India, reports the SMDHU.

Dr. Gardner called out a lack of assessment centres in Huntsville, saying the region is testing about 33 per cent fewer people than Simcoe County.

He also stressed the seriousness of practicing social distancing yet again.

"More worrisome to me is the need for everyone in Muskoka, and everywhere in Simcoe, to exercise the physical distancing as community transmission from person to person will lead to the surge we are going to see."

Dr. Gardner says the person-to-person spread of the virus could mean thousands of cases across the region. "What is safer for people to do is assume they don't know who could be a case because we certainly don't know all the cases. There're probably many more cases in the community than what we are learning through testing."

Across Ontario, another single-day spike was recorded with 170 new cases, totalling 858 on Thursday.

At least 12 of the newly diagnosed people in the province are hospitalized, including two people in their 20s.

The province said so far eight people have recovered.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV's Mike Arsalides.