OTTAWA -- A rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Arnprior area over the past week is being linked to a social gathering in Renfrew County.

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit says over the past week, nine residents of Arnprior and five individuals that reside in the Township of McNab/Braeside have tested positive for novel coronavirus.

The health unit has also identified 37 high-risk contacts and six local businesses affected by the cases.

"Many of these cases attended the same social gathering, and several others are considered close contacts of those that attended the gathering," said the health unit in a statement.

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit has directed all persons and businesses impacted to self-monitor and/or self-isolate until exposure and risks have been assessed by the contact tracing team.

"I really encourage the residents of Arnprior to take this virus seriously and not let your guard down," said Arnprior Mayor Walter Stack.

Renfrew County has been in the green zone of Ontario's colour-coded framework since Feb. 10, allowing for social gatherings, along with non-essential businesses to open.

"RCD has been classified as a green zone for weeks now, which will likely change if cases continue to rise," said Dr. Robert Cushman, Renfrew County's acting medical officer of health.

"Businesses are finally getting the chance to open again, to employ their workers, and to serve their customers delayed needs. The last thing we want to do is to jeopardize our status and clamp down yet again on the economy, or possibly implement more stringent rules in the Arnprior area."