HALIFAX -- Health officials in Nova Scotia are advising residents to avoid non-essential travel to northwestern New Brunswick because of a rise in COVID-19 cases in the area.

Officials say they are also concerned that New Brunswick authorities have confirmed in the Edmundston, N.B., area the presence of a more contagious variant, first identified in the United Kingdom.

On Thursday, Nova Scotia officials stress there is no change to a policy announced last Friday that opened the province's boundary and allows New Brunswick travellers to visit Nova Scotia without self-isolating.

In a news release late Thursday, Premier Iain Rankin called the situation "dynamic" and says it's one his province is monitoring.

Rankin says the advisory follows a move by New Brunswick to place Edmundston and its surrounding areas into that province's red alert phase of COVID-19 restrictions.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang says travel to the area should be avoided "unless absolutely necessary."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2021.