Residents in northwestern Ontario are being warned not to travel outside their region because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in both Manitoba and southern Ontario.

“Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Manitoba and southern Ontario, non-essential travel outside of northern Ontario should be avoided,” said Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, medical officer of health at Northwestern Health Unit, in an Oct. 1 news release.

That health unit serves a broad area of northwestern Ontario, including part of the Kenora district.

The travel recommendations also apply to sports team, Dr. Young-Hoon said in the release.

“Travelling for sports is not considered essential and I would recommend that sports teams do not leave northern Ontario to compete in other areas of the province or country,” she said.

“Determine whether the purpose of your trip is worth the risk of potentially contracting COVID-19 and bringing it back to our area.”

Those who decide to travel outside northern Ontario should complete a risk assessment before leaving the region, Young-Hoon said.

They’re also asked to self-isolate for 14 days when they return if they have come in close contact with a positive case or have been exposed to an outbreak situation.

“Northern Ontario is not seeing the spike in cases that other areas like Manitoba and southern Ontario are seeing, and we must all do our part to keep it that way.”

The new recommendations come after a surge in COVID-19 cases in Manitoba. Another person died from COVID-19 in a  personal care home in Winnipeg on Friday, raising the death toll related to COVID-19 in Manitoba to 21.

As of Friday, there were 652 active COVID-19 cases in the province.

Health officials in northwestern Ontario are also asking residents to download the COVID Alert app on their phones as an added safety measure to assist in contact tracing if they are exposed to possible COVID-19 cases in their area.