OTTAWA -- Ottawa's medical officer of health is reporting a significant increase in the number of Ottawa residents testing positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern.

Dr. Vera Etches says while 70 per cent of COVID-19 variants of concern cases are linked to travel or a household contract, there are indications that 30 per cent of the suspected cases of COVID-19 variants of concern are linked to community spread.

There are currently 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in Ottawa. Public Health Ontario reports eight cases in Ottawa of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom and one case of the variant first found in South Africa.

On Wednesday, Dr. Etches told reporters that 73 people have screened positive for an initial genetic indicator of a variant of concern, and further testing is underway to determine the variant.

"These screen positives are likely to be confirmed as a variant of concern when the genetic sequencing is complete," said Etches.

"The stricter we are with our preventive behaviours, the better we can avoid a rapid rise in all types of COVID-19."

Etches says 70 per cent of the variants of concern are related to either travel, close contact with someone who has travelled or a household contact.

"But that does leave 30 per cent of the time, this is something people don't know the source, so that's the indication of community spread."

Dr. Etches said Ottawa Public Health has yet to see the COVID-19 variants spreading faster than the non-variant COVID-19 cases. In other jurisdictions, the variants of concern have been identified as spreading more easily.