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Border closed between B.C., Northwest Territories

The B.C.-Northwest Territories border is now closed after the territories reported its first case of COVID-19 on March 21. A travel advisory is in effect at the Petitot River Bridge on Highway 77, and motorists are advised to reroute via NWT Hwy1.

The B.C.-Northwest Territories border is now closed after the territories reported its first case of COVID-19 on March 21.

A travel advisory is in effect at the Petitot River Bridge on Highway 77, and motorists are advised to reroute via NWT Hwy1. 

The border closed as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, and only emergency and enforcement vehicles can cross the border, according to Cabin Radio. All others will be turned away.

Territorial ministers urged residents this past weekend not to make any last minute trips into B.C. Anyone who did faces two weeks of self-isolation.

The infected patient travelled to B.C. and Alberta, and developed mild symptoms three days after returning to Yellowknife.

The person is now recovering at home and public health officials are in the process of contact tracing so all those exposed can be monitored or tested.

"Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola has issued an order prohibiting entry of non-residents to the Northwest Territories by land, air, or port with limited exceptions," Health Minister Diane Thom said Saturday.

"These measures are drastic. They will be challenging. But they are necessary."

Disobeying that order is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and six months in jail, according to a news release.

The North is considered to be among Canada's most vulnerable locations to an outbreak of COVID-19, because of the limited health care access.

The territory is requiring that returning residents self-isolate in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River or Inuvik in an effort to stop the virus from making its way to smaller, more remote communities.

Thom said the government is doing everything in its power to prevent an outbreak.

— with files from The Canadian Press