OTTAWA -- Four cases of suspected COVID-19 variants of concern have been confirmed in eastern Ontario.

Three of the cases are staff members at the St-Albert Cheese Co-op in St. Albert, according to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. The health unit did not release details on the fourth case.

On Thursday, the health unit tested all 200 employees at the cheese co-op for COVID-19. The factory and store temporarily closed after three employees tested positive this week.

"As test results return from the laboratory, the EOHU will collaborate with the factory to determine how to move forward," said a statement from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.

"The EOHU has determined that the outbreak presents no risk to the general public. The EOHU is also reassuring the public that products produced at the factory are safe for consumption."

The St-Albert Cheese Co-op store is scheduled to reopen on Saturday. 

Officials are now awaiting specific genetic testing to identify the exact variant types of the four cases in the region.

"While I am concerned about the presence of COVID-19 variants of concern in our region, I am not surprised as they are being detected across the province," says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health.

"Seeing as these variants are much more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19, it is essential that we continue taking the precautions recommended by public health until a majority of the population is vaccinated."