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N.B. restricts access to hospitals, long-term care homes for those who’ve travelled internationally

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, speaking to reporters at a media briefing in Shediac, N.B. on June 13, 2019. Callum Smith / Global News

New Brunswick is asking residents who have travelled internationally within the last 14 days to stay away from hospitals and long-term care homes as it attempts to deal with the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, said at a press conference on Wednesday that anyone travelling from China’s Hubei province or from Iran should self-isolate for 14 days.

She said the restriction on those who have travelled internationally does not apply to health-care workers unless they travelled to Iran, Italy or China’s Hubei province.

READ MORE: WHO declares novel coronavirus disease a pandemic

The decision dovetails with the guidance provided by Education Minister Dominic Cardy earlier this week,

A memo distributed on Monday evening stated that children, students, staff, volunteers and family members returning home from international locations after March 8 are to stay away from schools, early learning facilities and school district offices for 14 days.

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The memo also stated that all school-related international travel has been cancelled for the rest of the school year.

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The New Brunswick Medical Society came out strong against the education department’s directive on Wednesday, describing as being “not rooted in evidence-based public health policy.”

In a press release, the organization’s president said the policy has “caused confusion and concern” for parents, students, educators and health-care providers and that it “risks placing a strain on an already fragile health system”

“I believe it requires a public health review and reconsideration,” said Dr. Chris Goodyear.

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Russell said there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, but health officials are expecting that to change.

“We are expecting cases in New Brunswick,” she said.

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“This is an evolving situation, and every member of society has a role to play… we need to take care of each other.”

More information on the novel coronavirus is available on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website.

READ MORE: How many Canadians have coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

Canada has now surpassed 100 cases of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, according to tallies from the provinces.

As of Wednesday, Johns Hopkins CSSE said there were 121,564 confirmed cases worldwide. There have been 4,373 deaths.

With files from Global News’ Shelley Steeves, Aya Al-Hakim