SASKATOON -- A COVID-19 outbreak in Beauval was declared Friday following an increasing number of cases, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said in a news release.

A contact tracing investigation is underway.

The health authority asks anyone who may have travelled through the community of Beauval between April 12 and April 27 to self-monitor for any symptoms of COVID-19.

These include: fever, cough, breathing difficulties, sore throat, runny nose, chills, diminished sense of smell, and body aches. They should call HealthLine 811 or their community health centre for evaluation and advice if they develop any of those symptoms.

If they identify any of these symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately, the health authority says.

Earlier on Friday, the province said the far north — where the community is located — was home to 19 of the province's 26 new confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Another northern community, La Loche, is currently grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak that has resulted in dozens of cases and claimed two lives.

In Beauval an employee at the Beauval General Store tested positive for COVID-19  earlier this week.

According to Beauval Mayor Nick Daigneault, more than two dozen employees from the store have since been tested for the virus.

While he's heard most results came back negative, some did not, Daigneault said.

"Of course with the positives now that means some of those employees live in the townsite of Beauval itself," Daigneault said.

The mayor credits precautions already in place at the general store, owned and operated by nearby English River First Nation, with limiting the extent of the outbreak.

"They always kind of had it in the back of their mind that this could potentially be a reality with the store being as busy as it is. It is a travel hub for the Highway 155 area, meaning it serves anywhere between Green Lake and La Loche and all the communities in between," Daigneault said. 

The store is closed, but Daigneault said it may be able to reopen as soon as next week.

In the meantime, many in the community of over 800 and the larger region are without access to a grocery store.

He said some in his community tried to head south to purchase groceries but we're turned back at checkpoints enforcing travel restrictions put in place under the current Public Health Order.

"I'm hearing they are being turned away which is not good news for us because we were assured that grocery shopping was an essential part of travel," Daigneault said.

"I'm sure they're going to clean that up in the next little bit but today there was a lot of disappointment and frustration around that."

Amid the outbreak, Daigneault said he and other leaders in Beauval are trying to pass on a message of calmness to those directly affected by the virus and the larger community.

"We have personnel an volunteers in pace to really help the families that tested positive and we're to help them and we're going to get through this together."