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Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin leaves after a COVID-19 news conference, in Halifax, on Feb. 24, 2021.Tim Krochak/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia won’t hesitate to close its provincial boundary if a COVID-19 outbreak in northwestern New Brunswick spreads elsewhere, Premier Iain Rankin assured Friday.

An advisory to avoid non-essential travel to the Edmundston, N.B., area was issued late Thursday by Nova Scotia health officials. The move came a week after Rankin announced that people travelling from New Brunswick to his province would no longer have to self-isolate.

Rankin said his province is monitoring the situation closely. “If we need to close our border to New Brunswick again, we will,” he told reporters.

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said the biggest concern is the confirmation in Edmundston and its surrounding communities of the presence of a more contagious variant, first identified in the U.K.

Still, Strang said there was no reason for Nova Scotia to immediately shut its border.

“The cases are isolated to that particular area,” he said. “However, if the outbreak starts to move into other parts of New Brunswick … I will not hesitate to make a recommendation to reinstate the 14-day quarantine.”

Soon after Strang made his comments, New Brunswick reported 13 more cases of novel coronavirus – all in the Edmundston region.

Nova Scotia reported five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as well as a probable case connected to a Halifax-area junior high school. It now has 27 known active cases.

The new cases are all in the Halifax area, with two under investigation and the other three being close contacts of previously reported cases. Strang said the probable case, at Sackville Heights Junior High School, is connected to a case reported Thursday at a nearby high school.

On the vaccine front, Strang said the province had administered 20,000 shots over the last four days. He also said that vaccine appointments can now be booked for people between the ages of 75 and 79.

However, he said the province had received word that a shipment of more than 14,000 doses of Moderna vaccine expected next week would be delayed by the company for about a week because of quality control issues.

“We are able to adjust within our existing supply of Moderna, so it should not take us off target as long as it’s only a week delay,” Strang said.

In the meantime, he said the province would not be opening up any further clinics scheduled to use the Moderna vaccine until there is a renewed assurance of the promised supply.

Strang also said the federal government expects to receive another 1.5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine next week, with Nova Scotia’s share expected to be about 38,000 doses.

As of Thursday, Nova Scotia had administered 83,148 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 23,662 people having received their second shot.

Under questioning from the Conservatives' Michelle Rempel Garner in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he'll press top European leaders to make sure Canada isn't affected by tougher export controls on COVID-19 vaccines. Rempel Garner sought an absolute guarantee that no doses would be held back.

The Canadian Press

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