VANCOUVER -- A B.C. community is facing a cluster of COVID-19 cases after dozens recently tested positive for the disease.

Interior Health announced the cluster in Fernie Wednesday, saying 81 people have tested positive since the start of the year. Of those, 63 cases are still active.

"This week, contact tracing confirms new cases of COVID-19 where people are reporting higher numbers of close contacts which contributes to increased community spread and heightened concern," said Dr. Albert De Villiers, Interior Health chief medical health officer, in a news release.

"Declaring this cluster today allows us to continue working together in Fernie while strengthening our collective response."

The health authority says clusters are declared when "problematic COVID-19 transmission" is happening in a community. In this case, the cluster isn't linked to a single event or location, but local social gatherings.

The health authority says the events are "a significant concern" and is urging residents to follow public health orders, which prohibit gatherings outside immediate household.

"I would like to thank the dedicated physicians and staff in the region who are working hard to support their patients and stop the spread of COVID-19," said Susan Brown, Interior Health president and CEO.

"We call on everyone in the community to focus on following all the public health measures that help keep ourselves and loved ones safe."

A cluster was also recently declared by the health authority in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region. Since New Year's Day, 314 people in that community have tested positive for COVID-19 and as of Wednesday, 150 of those cases were still active.

In that cluster, most of the cases are linked to social gatherings in Williams Lake.