As New Brunswick reported 18 new cases of COVID-19, the province's top doctor pleaded with residents to take on the responsibility of stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"While the virus isn't very mobile, people are," Dr. Jennifer Russell said during a news conference Friday in Fredericton. "It is vital that we do everything that we can to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Russell said that keeping two metres apart is enough to deny the virus an opportunity to spread.

Of New Brunswick's 18 new cases, there are eight new cases in Zone 2, seven new cases in Zone 3, two new cases in Zone 4, and one new case in Zone 5.

The new cases in Zone 2 include two new cases at Lily Court at Parkland Saint John. That facility now has 20 cases involving 13 residents and seven staff. A case was also reported at a nursing home in Baker Brook, N.B.

Testing was also done on staff and residents at two other long-term care homes where positive cases were identified on Thursday.

This brings the total number of active cases in the province to 143.

"There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital, and that is something to be thankful for," Russell said.

Even with this bit of good news, Russell reminded New Brunswickers of the importance of following public health guidelines, especially as a more contagious variant of COVID-19 is identified in several Canadian provinces.

"Because of all the people who are off, our health system remains vulnerable," Russell said.

New Brunswick also announced Friday it is prohibiting all non-essential travel into the province following a sustained rise in COVID-19 infections

"We return to the pre-June rule that unnecessary travel into the province is prohibited," Russell said.

Even Canadians who own property in New Brunswick or who have family there are no longer allowed to enter for reasons the government deems non-essential, Russell added.

"It's that constant movement of people between cities, provinces, countries that has enabled COVID-19 to spread to every corner of the globe," Russell said.

She said travel into the province will be permitted for work, medical appointments and for compassionate and child custody reasons. New Brunswick residents returning home from travel deemed non-essential, or people who are moving to the province, must isolate for 14 days, Russell said.

Russell also stressed on Friday the importance of being honest with contact tracers.

She says people who refuse to answer or don't answer truthfully are now subject to charges.

"This came about as a result of regional investigations with our public health nurses who do the contact tracing and they were extremely concerned about not receiving truthful information from people they were interviewing," Russell said.

On Wednesday, a case of COVID-19 was identified at Bessborough School in Moncton and students have since stayed at home.

Education Minister Dominic Cardy says it's hoped they will return to the classroom on Monday.

With files from The Canadian Press.